Since moving to Johannesburg from the Karoo, a vast, near-desert region in South Africa, photographer and film-maker Kristin-Lee Moolman has been “continually inspired by the city and the people I meet.”
“The creative scene in Johannesburg at the moment is pretty exciting,” she tells It’s Nice That. “I feel like everyone is driven and committed to pushing boundaries and creating new work.” Still, it’s as hard in Joburg as London for emerging creativity to thrive. “Aside from our political issues and shitty economy, the most problematic issue is the creative industry itself, there is a fundamental lack of consideration and support for many younger creatives.”
Kristin-Lee’s photographs offer an insight into a world where her subjects — “friends and people I’ve met through social media… talented artists, musicians, actors and dancers” — perform complex gender and sexual identities in opposition to both traditional cultural stereotypes and the conservative attitudes which are still held not only in the city, but in South Africa as a whole. “I have an issue with how gender and sexuality are defined in contemporary society, how masculinity and femininity are policed,” Kristin explains. “How heterosexuality is normal and how anything else is perceived as out of the norm or a ‘subculture’. Why is it like this, and who decided on these labels?”
Kristin-Lee’s cast of friends and family kick back against those labels. In one image, a man with an afro and goatee beard stands proudly in a makeshift toga-style dress spray painted with the words “Fun is Not Dead”. One leg emerges, Liz Hurley-style, from a thigh-high slit to reveal a knee-high sports sock worn with a sensible black leather loafer. In another shot, two men gaze through their ringlets at the camera from beneath the rims of their black hats. They wear gold buttoned blazers with the sleeves cut off at the shoulder to accentuate elbow-high white gloves which match their boxers, emerging from perilously low-slung baggy jeans.
One constant in Kristin’s shots is the ever-present sunshine which washes out the scenes and makes the costumes of her sitters surreal. It’s a feature made even more pronounced by the dull, everyday locations in which the photographer captures her subjects — outside garages and car washes, lounging on plasticky sofas or satin-sheeted beds.
Recently, Kristin has shot editorials 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. “I’m focusing intensely on video work at present,” she says of her upcoming work, “and doing research for the next exhibition. IB and I are also working on the 2026 book to be published soon.”