News & Events

Unisan’s expert eye garners top photography award

Building on past successes, Unisa student Sydney Seshibedi has been named the Sports Photographer of the Year 2019 by South African Breweries (SAB).

Seshibedi initially wanted to become a journalist, but did not have the funds to pursue this dream. He turned to photography after being awarded a bursary by the Market Photo Workshop.

Sydney Seshibedi, 2019 SAB Sports Photographer of the Year

Currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Politics in the College of Human Sciences, Seshibedi started his career over 20 years ago with an internship at Swedish newspaper Vasterbottens Kuriren. He later returned to South Africa to join the Sunday Times and subsequently worked for the Saturday Star and The Times. Currently he works for Gallo Images and writes, on a freelance basis, for publications such as the Sowetan and the Sunday Times.

‘During the first eight years of my career,’ says Seshibedi, ‘I focused mainly on news and politics, while sports was just one of the things that I covered for the publications I worked for. However, I have always regarded photography as a powerful medium of expression.’

Seshibedi’s recent accolade is not his first. In 2004 he was named PSL Photographer of the Year and in 2006 became one of the few South Africans to be awarded the prestigious World Press Photo Award, in the action sports category. He was also named the SA Sport Photographer of the Year Award in 2012.

Winners of the 2019 SAB Sports Media Awards

Picture credit: Jody Hendricks

Seshibedi names renowned photographers Alexander Joe, Themba Hadebe and Juda Ngwenya as major inspirational forces in his career. ‘I have had the honour to photograph everyone I admired and aspired to photograph,’ he says. ‘These included the late Nelson Mandela, whom I photographed holding the FIFA World Cup trophy in Zurich, Switzerland, as he and the world reacted to the announcement that South Africa would host the 2010 FIFA World Cup. I have, on many occasions, also photographed the South African cricketer Kagiso Rabada, whom I admire greatly. I believe he is a legend in the making.’

Seshibedi says that it is never too late to become involved in the art of photography. ‘For those interested in photography, if you have not started taking photos using a manually operated camera, it is not too late to learn and experience the magic and the liberating feeling of understanding basic things, such as light, on a much deeper level than one’s daily interactions with it. Imagine, at some point in the future, people analysing your photos to make sense of the time in which you lived, and leaving those immortal images behind for such future research analysis, to accurately assist future generations to piece together previous human existence.’

Unisa takes pride in having such a talented photographer as a student, especially someone who so profoundly understands the value of having a formal qualification.


*By Nancy Legodi, Acting Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2020/01/20