The work of freelance photographer Neo Baepi has appeared on various local and international platforms, most recently to promote Queen Sono, a crime drama series celebrated as the first original African production for Netflix.
Baepi worked as a community manager for Woolworths and Ogilvy before venturing out as a photographer two years ago. After initially making the mistake of not asking for help on how to run the business side of this creative pursuit, Baepi found it “impossibly difficult” to make a living. They remain proud of the decision to change careers and believe it is important to be memorable and reliable, and to keep at it even when people say no.
As a result of this combination of talent and grit, they have worked for clients including Amstel, Woolworths and Stimorol, and developed a network through those commissions. One of Baepi’s specialities is portraiture, often shot in black and white.
Through honest discussions, Baepi hopes to help create a South Africa “where our queerness and our blackness and our trans-ness and all our ‘nesses’ aren’t up for debate”.
They appeared on the YouTube channel Pap Culture, and a conversation with poet Maneo Mohale was included in They Called Me Queer, a compilation of poems, stories and essays compiled by Kim Windvogel and Kelly-Eve Koopman to challenge ill-informed concepts of queerness.
Baepi also took the photographs for the children’s book The Girl Without A Sound by Buhle Ngaba.