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Photographer & Director

Koto Bolofo is a director, art and fashion photographer who was born in South African and raised in Great Britain He was among the first to be considered when the international fashion system decided to look at African style.

While attending an art and design college in London In the 1970s, he was introduced to a three-week photography course with which he spontaneously fell in love. This made him more determined to continue and develop his own photographic style, until Conde Nast called him to become a regular photographer and a collaborator under the watchful eye of Franca Sozzani for 25 years.

In 1988 he was contacted by American photographer and portrait artist Richard Avedon who, passionate about his work, told him he would like to meet him in person. For Koto, it was one of the most enriching and inspiring visits he ever had early in his career.

Bolofo, however, has also been able to distinguish himself through his commitment. As a filmmaker, for example, he has made several documentaries denouncing apartheid, helping to define another image of Africa. But without agreeing to be confined to the ethnic or anti-racist “shelf.” His latest photographic volume, One Love. One Book is, not coincidentally, a tribute to the German publishing house Steidl (with which he often publishes) and to publishing as a practice of craftsmanship and pursuit of quality.

He returned to South Africa in 1992, two years after Nelson Mandela was released from prison. The first thing Bolofo did was visit Robben Island, where Mandela had been held for the majority of his 27 years in confinement in a cell barely six square meters in size. The photographs he took with his wife have been published in a new monograph titled The Prison (Steidl).

Bolofo has photographed for prestigious magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, and GQ. He has created award-winning short films for international film festivals, as well as advertising campaigns for brands including Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Dom Pérignon. His books with Steidl include Venus, I Spy with my Little Eye, Something beginning with S, Vroom!, La Maison and Grande Complications. Bolofo is the distinguished recipient of the 2022 Lucie Award for Achievement in Advertising in photography.