Bruno Poco, South African Photographer – Maker Profile
I met Bruno during an epic all-day Sunday affair. After returning to Johannesburg from Cape Town, I went straight from the airport to dropping of my bags to hitting up Market on Main – the thing to do on Sundays in Jobug. We ate, we watched Kimboza (a style of dancing), we moved on to the locals’ fave sunset spot (with drink in hand, of course). We grubbed some more, and then we ended up at Lenin’s Vodka Bar.
Bruno served me a drink, and I don’t remember exactly how or why but I quickly discovered that he splits his time between Johannesburg and Chicago. Totally intrigued, I started asking a bunch of questions – and next thing you know we set up a time to hang. Bruno is a photographer, photography lecturer, primary-school art teacher, and occasional bartender and curator. He’s super active in the growing biking community and emerging art scene in Joburg.
We spent an afternoon puttering around the Maboneng neighborhood. We hit up SOMA Art + Space, a gallery and event space. We checked the D'Zair Art and Craft À Johannesburg, an exhibition of contemporary Algerian design at the Museum of African Design. We popped into five8ths, checkin’ out handmade, beautifully constructed shirts. (Liz is originally from Baltimore by way of Colorado!). We hung with his buddy, Marlon, talking all things Joburg while drinkin’ Nestlé instant cappuccino white chocolate (an instant coffee mix that surprisingly tastes good mixed with black coffee!) and waiting out the African Storm. (Holy shit, I’ve never experienced a storm so intense, with power transformers poppin’ off).
Throughout the afternoon, I learned more about Bruno’s current project – photographing the cycling culture in Johannesburg and Chicago. When he first went to Chicago, he got a job as a bike messenger. Bruno instantly connected with the people in the cycling culture. It was a natural fit – the generally smaller group of people stuck together, they “believe that things can be different” and “they create the difference for themselves.” Meet Bruno and you get it. He’s a connector. His group of friends are diverse and every single person is super rad, making shit happen in Joburg. An art gallery manager working to make art more accessible for everyone. A doctor delivering babies one minute, then working to promote legislative changes the next. An interracial couple who own a bike shop and organize weekly bike rides.
Bruno’s goal is to exhibit his cycling photographs, publish a book – and photograph the cycling culture in other cities around the world. YES! We love supporting rad people on their very own world tour. A BIG thank you to Bruno for making time to hang and for answering our Maker Profile questions. Want to see more? Check his work.
1 - First, the basics: pencil or pen, ruled sheets or grid?
Always a pencil, never a clutch. But I do have a weakness for a classic Parker pen with green ink. Plain paper first then grids. I’ll leave lined paper to schools.
2 - What’s your favorite South African food to grub on? South African drink to sip (or guzzle, you know how we do)?
Having a good old South African braai is amazing. You have to include Boerewors sausage. On a sunny day with lots of black label, Windhoek or 2M beer.
3 - Describe the Johannesburg art scene in 3 words.
Vibrant, brave and socially aware. I know that’s 4 words.
4 - What’s the one thing everyone should experience in Johannesburg?
The inner city. Both for its exciting gentrification and poorer areas. It’s so culturally diverse and unique.
5 - You have a jet all fueled up and ready for your own personal World Tour. Where you headed?
Besides my move to Chicago, I’d go to Central and South America. Specifically the southern part of Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. India and Nepal. Russia. Too much to see haha.
6 - Any tips for taking people’s photos on the street?
A big smile and good manners. Being approachable is most of the work. Also have your craft waxed. Technology must never be a barrier to your creativity.