Anthony Bila: The man behind the lens

By Lindelwa R

1.       Let’s pretend you’re not the creative genius we’re interviewing, what would be the one thing you can’t live without?

Well you’re very generous for saying that, I would have to disagree though, I’m no creative genius. One thing I can’t live without? I think we should all be able to live without material tethers or anchors, they in themselves can trap us into certain ways of thinking, so besides food, water & shelter, I can’t think of a single thing I can’t live without, really.

2.       What’s the book you’ve read which changed your life?

The book is one that took approximately 1,600 years to write. The book had 66 different writers over that time period who wrote from different vantage points, they were from different walks of life and different social classes and countries even. Yet, this book is flawless, infallible even in the way that it carries the secret to true enlightenment, happiness and understanding our purpose. That book, of course is one inspired by a higher power, it’s the most published book in history despite many attempts to thwart its proliferation, and this book is the Bible.


3.       This next question is a becoming a cliché but, how do you think art can encourage a revolutionary way of thinking, in the youth specifically?

I think art, the truest form of it questions all our beliefs, and it interrogates them. One should always ask “why?” And asking “why” isn’t a sign of anything except curiosity and wanting to be more enlightened and gaining understanding to me. So yes, if art is there to express an emotion, to question a system or even to subvert it, art is often a catalyst for change. And art can take so many various forms, music, writing, painting, even the way one lives their lives can be art, it’s everything and anything that is done with a certain finesse, a certain je ne sais quoi.

4.       What do you think us youths need more of from ourselves?

We need to be honest enough to say what we really feel, unafraid and brave enough to voice our thoughts about everything and driven enough to act. All to often we as young people we just don’t take enough initiative to change the status quo. South Africa has a 52% population under the age of 23, and that means we are the future but if we do not demand better representation and opportunities of the system and of ourselves, nothing will change. We have to be revolutionaries, and assert change to benefit us since we are the ones that the future of South Africa will depend on.

Anthony Profile

5.       How would you describe the purpose of your art? Your video & photography, writing and paintings, what are you saying through your art?

The message is often so varied, but at all times, me end goal is to break the misconception that the world has of our country and our continent. In various ways, shapes and forms, I want to do one thing: Bring Africa to the world and the world to Africa. That is my end goal. To break free of what the rest of the world thinks Africans should look like, sound like and think, we are global citizens with influences spanning our entire planet, connected through the internet, Africa is so much more than dashiki’s, kwashiorkor and civil wars. There is so much more to each and every country on our continent and I would love the opportunity to showcase each country for the jewel that it is.

6.       What is the best thing about being a freelance photographer?

The opportunities come thick and fast, when they do eventually come. That is most certainly the best aspect of it, being able to find new ways of interpreting your own style of photography and having the best chance to express your creativity on someone else’s dime. I enjoy the challenge of conceptualizing new ideas and reinventing yourself with every project. It’s a challenge one always needs to be able to rise to, to be better than your last project.

7.       Can you describe your process for us; how do you decide where you’ll shoot and the subjects of the particular capture? What pulls you to a setting?

I take in a lot of information through books, movies, series and the internet. All that information kind of mulls over in my mind and it can take very little to spark an idea, once an idea is born, it grows like a virus and your selective perception begins to take hold, so based on that idea, you start to consciously or subconsciously to look for venues that fit the vision born in your minds eye. From that point onwards, the rest starts to take shape until you’re ready to shoot. That’s one process, the main process. Sometimes, I ‘ll be driving and come across a hidden location and that location then inspires an idea to shoot there. It really does vary.

8.       What has been your favorite shoot to date?

The last shoot, is always my favorite shoot. The current one I just completed was entitled “NOTHING WAS THE SAME”. It was based on how things often change, but stay the same, I collaborated with an up and coming designer who I think is a futurist in a lot of ways. You can see the shoot and collaboration at or at my Behance page

9.       Who are your Top5 Creatives of Africa, at the moment?

That’s a very difficult top 5 to come up with, with so much burgeoning talent:


4. Sindiso Nyoni

3. Kudzanai Chiurai

2. Okwui Enwezor

1. Nelson Makamo

10.   And finally, in the spirit of vanity: What is your favorite art piece by yourself? Describe what it means to you and how you became inspired to make it.

That’s very hard to say. But it would probably be a concept I’ve spent some time developing called “THE BLK SRS” or “The Black Series”. It explores popular culture in the context of race relations. What makes us who we are? Is it race, social status, wealth or is it something else?

I am still working on this project, which integrates many of my interests, photography, writing, music, video & cinematography, painting. I want the project to be a multi-sensory experience and as a result, it’s been challenging and fulfilling all at once to do.

Photos by Anthony Bila and Stacey Van Der Walt

Author: Represent

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