out of focus, blurry, colorful and very contrasted portrait of a healer from South Africa by Thom Pierce

Sangoma A photography project by Thom Pierce

‘Sangoma’ is the name given to traditional healers who play an important role within many different sections of South African society. In rural communities they are many people’s first port of call in times of need and illness.

Through a combination of prayer, dance and medicine (Muti), Sangoma’s contact the ancestors for advice and prescribe natural remedies for illness, good fortune and physical improvement. To become a Sangoma is not simple. Chosen by their ancestors, the training and initiation can be long and arduous. The work is an emotional and physical commitment which, combined with western medicine, forms part of many people’s healthcare choices.

In recent years, Sangoma’s and institutions of western medicine have frequently worked together to define their separate roles and acknowledge the importance of each other within modern South African society. Sangoma’s are accepted in several denominations of the christian church, their diverse rituals and attire can be informed by their varying ethnicity and religious affiliation.

Monthly Photo Contest

Color film portrait photograph of a young woman by Michelle Marshall
© Michelle Marshall

2021 Portrait AWARD Deadline: 31 May 2021

"In a portrait, I’m looking for the silence in somebody."
- Henri Cartier-Bresson

Portrait photography has one of the oldest and most interesting histories that harkens back to the early days of the medium. Through portraits of iconic figures or ordinary people, we discover a deep interest in others.

Recent works or gems from your archives, classic or experimental, and through any kind of storytelling: we want to discover the most powerful and captivating images of today’s portrait photography. We are open to all interpretations and want to see faces that gaze right into the soul!


1st Prize: $1000 · 2nd Prize: $600 · 3rd Prize: $400

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