I Am Black Panther

Dinokeng, South Africa – 2021

Archival Pigment Print

The creative concept was to build a set in South Africa that allowed for a sense of collective tribal adulation. After all, our lead would be Wakanda – the superhero. Zulus seemed the right choice of tribe; they live locally to the shoot and are excitable and energized, especially when asked to go back in time and celebrate their rich heritage. It was not hard to find 100 extras, even with a 2 am pick up.

Kevin Richardson – The Lion Whisperer – looks after a handful of black leopards in his sanctuary and as with his lions, there is no possibility for anyone other than Kevin to be in an open area with them. Black leopards are part of the panther family and can give a human a very nasty bite. They should not be underestimated and safety is always the primary concern. It is, however, possible to work from inside a heavy cage and that was the path we chose for this set.

My preference is to shy away from long lenses and magnification if possible and this tends to mean being close to the lead subject. The cat moves so quickly that depth of field will always need to be sacrificed for shutter speed. It is a balancing act, as this image is nothing without the chaos behind and this needs to be given some detail. The more context that I could include, the wider the narrative and the fuller the story.

The Superhero movie Black Panther was a colossal success, grossing over $1.4bn and my instincts were to try to make a cinematic image fit for a wide screen. There needed to be Zulus to the left, to the right and most certainly above and behind – a visual human vortex of strength and territorial-ism. In this work, there is a palpable sense of trespassing into another world – a Marvel world.

The Africa I know is chaotic, frenzied and often daunting. This photograph leans on these references. Of course, there are pockets of serenity – but not for this storyline.


Large: Edition of 20 + 3 AP
  • Image Size: 56” x 96” in (142.24 cm x 243.84 cm)
  • Framed Image: 71” x 111” in (180.34 cm x 281.94 cm)
Standard: Edition of 20 + 3 AP
  • Image Size: 37” x 63” in (93.98 cm x 160.02 cm)
  • Framed Image: 52” x 78” in (132.08 cm x 198.12 cm)

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