The Baloyis is a creative couple and duo consisting of photographer John "Jay" Baloyi and muse/ meditation practitioner Itumeleng "Solar" Baloyi. The couple has been shooting together since they met on a photoshoot set in 2014, they got married last year on 17th July, exactly two years after they reconnected on 17th July 2016, after having lost initial contact in 2014.
The duo has been recognized as photographer and muse, however recently the couple decided to extend their collaborative efforts as co-creative directors, John shares how the collaboration unfolded; "the creative direction duo thing happened organically but it became a conscious decision for us to create work as a duo after we were approached by a publication to shoot a hair editorial. It was our first time being booked together for a job and we realized there was a gap for that kind of duo. A photographer/model/creative director duo is rare in the industry."
The couple has collaborated on three visual series TSHWUKA, KOTSI and MONTSHO, all with individual meanings but a universal theme, love.
On the intention behind the series, John shares; "we really wanted to concentrate on making art and being intentional with our message. And that has always been portraying black people as works of art. The experiences we go through, that only we can understand, are things we wanted to come through in the work. When it comes to our personal stories, what we’re going through usually determines what we want to say. For Tshwuka for example, it was symbolic of Itumeleng’s welcome into a Tshonga family. All the series are fundamentally built on love."
Individually the series explore different contexts and aspects of love; TSHWUKA is a Tshonga wife and as John expressed, it was symbolic of their union and Itumeleng marrying into a Tsonga family. KOTSI explores the allure of love. Kotsi means ‘danger’ and ‘accident’ in SeSotho, serves as an interpretation of why human beings find ourselves hurt when in-love even when we have seen signs and warnings. And "MONTSHO is a mythical queen believed to only appear in the dreams of those willing to fulfill their purpose. Once you see her, she starts to appear everywhere. In visions. In those you encounter. Staring into your soul. Reminding you, remember your dreams. Remember you."
Essentially reminding you to remember what ignites your soul, an act of loving yourself and by doing so allowing the love within you to emanate to others.
The different aspects of love explored by the visual series can be summed into the love we have for our families, our partners, our cultures, ourselves. "The images were edited with moody and rich, dreamy tones to express the depth of our current feels. We are in a transitioning phase when it comes to our work but at the same time, going back to the reasons why we started making photos. We’ve always wanted to create images that can live in black homes and be part of black families for generations. That will continue to inspire our work." - John, on the Baloyis process of creating. Additionally, since they live through their art, their process of creating is very intuitive and organic. They both have different and similar things to offer, which allows for a balanced partnership. They also alternate occasionaly in shooting one another.
Creative Direction: The Baloyis
Photography: John "Jay" Baloyi
Model/ Muse: Itumeleng "Solar" Baloyi