My moments with Mandela (5 December 1999)

My Mandela Day

My Mandela Day

Fourteen years ago, equipped with my Masters degree in Journalism from Rhodes University. I moved with high expectations to Cape Town with only a volunteer job and an interview. My task as a volunteer was to run the daily Vukani (Awakening the Spirit) newspaper, which appeared as an insert in the Cape Times. It reported on the 1999 Parliament of the World’s Religions’ weeklong events. A few days into editing, writing and shooting for Vukani, I went to the unveiling of the Peace Pole on Robben Island. “The Sunrise Peace Pilgrimage” started early on the Sunday morning. I boarded the ferry and watched Table Mountain recede; the choppy seas finally took me to the surprisingly barren looking island. Before the peace pole was erected I visited Mandela’s prison cell, it was small, bleak and so empty – almost hollow. It was incomprehensible to even imagine what it may have been like to have spent 18 years within those prison walls. The Peace Pole with the words: “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in English, Zulu, Xhosa and Afrikaans was blessed and was witnessed by more than 300 dignitaries.
That evening I arrived early at the Good Hope Center Arena, along with an array of newspaper photographers. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela would address the plenary and was due to receive two awards that night. We were told that only two photographers would be allowed backstage. The excitement was palpable. I was taken aside by the organizer and asked if I wanted to shoot backstage. The other photographers were not impressed as I was unknown in the newspaper world. Mr Mandela arrived backstage with his bodyguards, I asked the organizer if I could meet him. The bodyguards were relentless and would not let us near him. I spotted Ebrahim Rasool (ANC’s Western Cape leader at the time), I had had a good interview with him the previous day, so I decided to ask him to introduce me to Mr Mandela. He swiftly took my arm and ushered me past the staunch bodyguard. There I was in-front of ‘Madiba’, he shook my hand and we chatted. I had him all to myself for a few minutes; it felt as if time stood still. It was dark backstage but his presence filled the space. The rest of the evening was a blur, I photographed ‘our’ hero but my student-equipment felt inadequate. I was the only backstage photographer that day.

The morning of December 5, 1999 I visited Mandela’s Robben Island prison cell, by the evening I shook his hand and 14 years later to the day, I am saddened to say: “Good night, Tata”.


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Shift4Ward Magazine

Shift4Ward Career Magazine

Shift4Ward Career Magazine

4Ward! Is a vibrant free digital magazine for graduates and young professionals in the world of work.The article appeared in their 3rd issue of 4Ward Magazine.

4Ward! Article

4Ward! Article


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When the camera turns on you!

I was blasted into the past, almost to a different time – the time of the medium format trannie – with this image.

Angie Lazaro in Meditation

Angie Lazaro in Meditation

Those were my Farilady days. I was the Picture Editor/ Photographer at the time. The magazine was running an article on meditation. At that stage the magazine preferred to photograph their own images instead of plucking them from picture libraries. My best was to conceptualise and come up with ways of illustrating the various articles.

This shot, was taken by my assistant – I was the ‘model’.
The process: Set-up the shot then once into position, either get someone to trigger, or use a remote trigger.
On the day, the stylist, Danny Toua, and the picture researcher, Kelly Smith, with a large super-heavy picnic basket containing all the camera equipment necessary sneaked into the forest. It was a last minute picture request so we didn’t have the luxury to arrange a permit. Riddled with guilt we pretended to go for a girly afternoon picnic, we smiled and waved as we sauntered past the guard.
This was about 10 years ago, the days of film, when everything was as a little more cumbersome, more difficult to set-up and time consuming waiting for Polaroid’s to develop to check light etc.
The glare effect was added later during post-production.

After all this time, I still like this shot!


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Pretty, Dirty, Rich

There is something particularly exciting and challenging about shooting fashion with models on location. Usually the weather conditions are not the same as when you first scouted the location, so its important to readjust and switch into a different mode (not wish for what you don’t have, but work with what awaits you).

It was a perfect day at the poolside. The swimwear was stunning and the models were gorgeous and so much fun! I have had a fair amount of shoots with inexperienced models and that makes a shoot harder and frustrating. Directing the model and pre-empt every pose takes the photographer’s focus away from creating real magic. It’s great for me to see how the model moves, and then see what is unfolding and then capturing shape, form, light, shadow and expression in the right combination to create the mood.

Our male model is from Brazil, he definitely worked his Latin look. Our female model, is South African and had featured in Sports Illustrated, and knew just how to work her body. The shoot had a sultry yet a tangible filthy rich feel.

Alexis Chaffe (fashion editor), had selected some interesting costume jewellery to finish off the looks. We had Carl Isaacs on board doing the hair and make-up. It was fresh, with such great colour. The TV crew joined us for a day in the sun and shot behind the scenes footage. Not only did they do their interviews and filming but I gained a few more assistants, holding reflectors and adjusting this and that.

Shooting in midday sun in South Africa has it’s challenges. The harsh black shadows can either work against you or with you, depending what you do and how your decide to shoot the fashion story.

I shot in straight sunlight, some dappled light, some reflected light and against the sunlight. Even though I used the light differently it is important to make sure the editorial reads as one story and not just stand alone images.

Photography: Angie Lazaro
Photographer’s assistant & behind the scenes photographer: Tiro Sauls
Fashion: Alexis Chaffe
Hair and make-up: Carl Issacs
Models: Bruno and Shane, Full Circle Models
Top Billing TV Crew – Insert director: Lars Schwingers; Cameraman: Wimpie Ackermann; Sound engineer: David Minaar


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The student years – circa 1996

I discoverd an old disc with these images from one of my first websites I created as a student at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. All the black and white images were shot on film and printed in the darkroom. The level of excitement to see what you captured on a strip of negatives is something that is practically gone forever or, perhaps I just need to dust off my enlarger and hang out in the dark!

Student Fashion

Jackie was also a photojournalism student, and I roped her and her boyfriend, Steve, to a shoot on a Sunday morning. We had so much fun finding places to shoot. Oooh, I do remember that stinky toilet. I at least was outside the cubicle!
Then there was Graunt a fellow Journalism student keen to do some shots in the theatre, if I remember correctly I used one red head (tungsten) light, bare bulb. These lights always became very hot.

Nude exhibitions

Since my third year I exhibited every year during the Grahamstown festival. I focused on producing a nude exhibition each year. Bodily Impressions was the first, shot in the forest. The second was shot in water, I loved the distortions this work was called The Limnetic Zone and I exhibited with Tanya Poole’s underwater paintings. Skin & Scales featured, Monty the python photographed at the brick works. Body Dance was photographed on stage as the dancer moved and danced.


Traveling has always inspired me to photograph the architecture in different ways. This is a collection of images shot in London and Koln.

First Physical Dance Theatre

Ever since I photographed a dance class, I was hooked… I loved the movement, the angles, the light, the physical grace of the dancers and the absolute challenge to capture the motion. I was in awe of what they could do, slide across the stage – always bruised but such magnificence. Shooting was a challenge with film you ‘knew’ if you had the shot – to be confirmed later in the darkroom, or not.
Gary Gordon was the mastermind behind First Physical Dance Theatre, the works he produced were always spectacular and pure perfection.

Gary Gordon


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Fashion Photography Images

A collection of some of my fashion photography work: Ah, my favourites for now!


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A day in the life of Angie Lazaro


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Travel: España

A version of this article appeared on Elle Deocoration‘s site for their 25th Birthday International Issue.

Escaping the SA winter I headed to the warm lands of Spain. I sensed that this trip was going to be different – I was armed with a guidebook, my ancestry and Ernest Hemingway’s e-book The Sun Also Rises written in 1929 (about Pamplona’s running with the bulls).

Traveling in our hired car we left Barcelona and found our way through a picturesque country filled with historic towns. I never once put down my camera as we explored Sos del Rey Católico in the province of Zaragoza and into Basque’s Olite, Vitoria and Bilbao.

This is a land where architects are celebrated, each new structure is a masterpiece, take Frank O. Gehry’s post structuralist style with his spectacular Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao and then to see his distinctive design at Marqués de Riscal wine estate, in Rioja and of course the Rioja wines, another experience to celebrate.

With culture and history come the festivals, and the most famous is San Fermín (the running of the bulls – the Enciero) in Pamplona. We were dressed in white with the traditional red scarf and sash. The first bull run of the week-long celebration happens at 8am, where testosterone congregates in the narrow streets as the bulls chase the crowd – people get trampled, knocked over and some get ‘corneado’ (horn injury). We didn’t join that lot, though, but we lapped up the festivities and continuous party.

Once we recovered we headed for the Costa Brava, Catalonia. We went beach hopping starting at Cadaqués and going southward. Imagine swimming in the azure Mediterranean with the historic 12th century Tossa de Mar castle on the highest point. We, of course, ate our way around the country feasting on several courses of croquetas, jamón, chorizo, paella, fabada, tortilla de patata, sardines, pinxos, turrón and tapas.


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Condé Nast House & Garden – Contributors

The editors letter and the featured contributors for the July issue of the magazine!

Cropped contributors insert

Conde Naste editor’s letter and contributors page


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The end of an era: Cover Shoot

Cover shoot with Isidingo’s most manipulative characters: Cherel and Katlego

Michelle Botes must be one of the most recognizable faces, (she gets around the soapie sets, and of course never dies but seems to kill off everyone else); I wonder how many hours she has featured on our tv screens – probably more than Riaan Cruywagen or about the same?

On my first assignment with Top Billing in 2006, I had the pleasure of meeting Michelle and her son Daniel for the first time. This was an insert for the tv show as well as the magazine – a skiing trip on the snowy slopes of Lesotho there is an interesting story about that shoot which I will share soon. Five years on I would get to photograph Michelle again and it would also mark the last Top Billing Cover shoot. We came full circle together – I like that thought!


This time Michelle and her colleague, fellow actress Kgomotso Christopher were to feature on the cover. Kgomotso has such a haunting presence in the way that she moves and yet she has such a strong personality. We started the shoot with the images that would appear on the inside feature of the magazine, with Michelle in a sheer pink dress by David Tlale.

I wanted a soft fresh feel to this shot. I specifically wanted to overexpose the light seeping through the windows, making the image look as natural as possible. She almost looks like she belongs in a fairytale.

With Kgomotso I went for a more dramatic but romantic look. In a dark brown velvet gown she looked mysterious and pensive. There is a silent drama, and yet a feminine gentleness to this image.

The day wasn’t without it’s challenges. There was a wedding about to take place at the venue: Westcliff Hotel. We had to hurry things along. We did another three shots to go with both Michelle and Kgomotso, one exposing their “super-bitch” Isidingo characters and another as a cover option with more charm than venom.

The final image was to be the cover. Shot in the garden, while we watched hoping that none of the wedding guests arrived early. There was no time to over-think anything!



I was so humbled when Michelle said: “My favourite part was working with Angie again – magic!”

The team: Photography: Angie Lazaro; Production: Hayden Fortmann; Art Direction: Julia Fell; Hair and Make-up: Nikkila Mann; Stylist: Jessica Lupton


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