Photographer in Focus – Meet Kristin-Lee Moolman
Published 9 months ago by

Moolman has been announced as the 2020 winner of the biennial Rudin Prize for Emerging Photographers. 

Inspired by the contrasting nature of the city of Johannesburg, Kristin-Lee Moolman is on a mission to constantly challenge the outside perception of Africa, by representing everyday life in South Africa through the exploration of themes such as sexuality, violence and black magic. 

Moolman was born in the late 1980s in the Karoo, a semi-desert region in South Africa but is now based in Johannesburg. 


She told Indie Mag: “There are two approaches to photography in this country: One half desperately wants to be Caucasian and European and American and British. And then the half other, where I think I have managed to pop over, explores the real South Africa. 

“Weirdly it’s dictated by the two cities, Cape Town and Johannesburg. It was only when I started coming to Johannesburg that things starting to fall into place. When I finally moved to Johannesburg full-time, I rented a place in the city, not the nice friendly suburbs.  

“On a daily basis, what I see, who I see, what I experience, it’s just inundated with inspiration.” 

READ: Photographer in Focus: Meet Self-Taught Photographer Fundiswa Ntoyi

She describes the city as “barbed wire rubbing against silk”.

Shooting Johannesburg’s queer community 

Moolman is known to have a penchant to shoot the Johannesburg queer community more than just casting models. 


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Sinegal for @alistermackie @the___leopard photographed by moi, styled be @ibkamara & Hair by @jawaraw 🐱

A post shared by Kristin-Lee Moolman (@kristinleemoolman) on

When asked why, she said: “Most of the people in the pictures are my friends and fellow artists, dancers, musicians, rappers, etc. Shooting models never appealed to me. It’s more what people do that I’m really interested in; like the two boys that I always shoot, Desire and Thato from FAKA.  

“They are incredible musicians and pretty controversial performance artists. I had seen on the Internet what they were doing and then I met them, and they were such incredibly beautiful people, physically and as personalities. And then I just met more and more beautiful and talented and incredible people doing interesting things, so that I just needed to look at modeling agencies less and less.  

“It’s this kind of symbiosis that we work in, everyone influencing everyone. I cast based on what the person does, because there’s a level of power that it brings to an image that you wouldn’t have if you just cast a model from an agency.” 

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Sinégal shot by me & styled by @ibkamara

A post shared by Kristin-Lee Moolman (@kristinleemoolman) on

Moolman has shot for Dazed, Vogue, L’officiel Hommes Germany, Rollacoaster and King Kong, look books for brands including Oath Studio and Oxosi and, most recently, teamed up with London-based stylist Ib Kamara for 2026 at Somerset House’s Utopia exhibition. 

READ: Photographer in Focus – Meet Self-Taught Photographer Basetsana Maluleka

RUDIN PRIZE for emerging photographers 

The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida, has selected Kristin-Lee Moolman as the 2020 winner of its biennial Rudin Prize for Emerging Photographers. 


Established in 2012 and sponsored by the May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, the $20,000 award celebrates underrecognized photographers who are pushing the boundaries of the medium.  

Moolman was presented with the honor on Saturday 29 February. 

See more of her work here. 

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