As much as business is about money, it is also about passion; and what better way to make money than through a passion…or in this case a hobby. Shiko Letseka, conceptualized Fluorescent Imagery in March 2015 with nothing more than an idea and a camera, today Fluorescent Imagery has built up a steady following in the Gauteng region. Shiko Letseka, currently a Strategic Brand Communications student at Vega School in Randburg, South Africa, envisioned starting a multimedia company specializing in photography, cinematography, marketing, and brand strategy consultation when he first started taking working in the Johannesburg and Pretoria areas. After viewing some of Fluorescent Imagery’s work with well known clients like Chad Da Don and iFani, to name a couple, hiring them to take pictures of my mother’s 45th birthday party, and marveling at how well he and his team managed to capture such beautiful moments, naturally, I had questions.
Q: What types of jobs get you really excited to get to work?
A: Honestly, photography started as more of a hobby and became more than that with time. I would have to say that, as much as personal photo shoots are amazing, I personally love covering events. Every job teaches you a typical lesson in terms of photography, so there is never a point where my team and I aren’t learning more; but with music events for instance, I get to see how the industry works from an insider’s perspective, and potentially see where Fluorescent Imagery would fit into that industry.
Q: Fluorescent Imagery offers its services in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Pretoria right now; how was it getting your team together when you registered your company?
A: Right now we have more photographers in the Gauteng region, but we are always looking for more. The goal is that there will be photographers in each province eventually. I like to think of this as building an army, and I guess we could call the first team that I assembled my first platoon. The people I started my company with have been in my life for a while, and what brought us together was the common interest we had in media. They’re more like founders and family than employees in my eyes; granted that can get a little hectic when it’s time to correcting missteps, but overall I never feel like I’m going to work…work feels like home.
Q: Today, it seems that everyone is a photographer, especially in very trendy places like Johannesburg, for instance. When starting Fluorescent Imagery, what was something you worried about and how did you counteract it?
A: No matter what you do your field is going to be full of other people who are aiming for the same goal as you. My industry is no different. The one thing we wanted to be conscious of was registering a company and honing in on our branding. I noticed that a lot of different photographers as I was coming up weren’t as focused on their brand as much as they were on their craft, so I really wanted to push myself to do both. I also wanted to make sure that we feature different subjects, so having different types of photographs and models, or just switching up what we shoot…we didn’t want to chase the hype; we want to make the hype. That’s the idea I had in mind when we first got started…that’s what we work towards.
Q: What were a few moments where you felt like you were on the right path for achieving those goals?
A: I’ve had a few ‘aha’ moments since I got started with Fluorescent Imagery. One was when iFani hired us to do some of his personal photography. Something that he said that stuck with me was the fact that he liked that our photographers worked under a company and not just as individuals so that in the event that one of the photographers got held up with something, he wouldn’t be out of a photographer. Stuff like that makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing. Another moment was when I felt like the website was ready. I felt things were coming together. And of course the occasional nods of approval from some of the people in the industry make for great ‘aha’ moments as well.
Q: You have spoken about the difficulties of being a student and running a business on Twitter before, what has been helpful in easing those concerns?
A: For one, I think that studying a degree that better relates to my business helps a lot. I studied Social Studies at Monash University, initially, thinking that it would help me understand people more, but I got over it because it just wasn’t working for me. Eventually, I switched degrees and towards the end of that year, I asked myself what next. That’s really where the plan for creating a media company instead of being a lone photographer got started. As much as I still want to drop out sometimes, and just focus on Fluorescent Imagery, I also want to make my mother proud…to make her smile.
Q: Fluorescent Imagery currently manages the branding and visuals for ThandoNje (singer). How has it been working with her so far?
A: Thando and I have been friends for a long time. The dream for Fluorescent Imagery is to one day become the visual and media team for various businesses. Working with Thando has helped me get a better glimpse into the music industry and honesty as my friend she has helped me so much professionally as well. A lot of the entertainment industry is about who you know just as much as how good you are. Between Thando and me, she is the more outgoing one that most people know and recognize. I have met other photographers through her once I started working more in Johannesburg and building up those kinds of connections has been a great learning opportunity. I try to surround myself with people who make me better as well as people who are hungry for success; Thando is one of those people. Right now, when it comes to working with different people and groups, if it’s beautiful, let’s do it.
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