Travys Owen // Reds, blues, pinks and yellows combine to express the richness of portraits

Travys Owen is a Johannesburg-based photographer and film director with a passion and relentless enthusiasm for light and colour. He has worked with major international brands and publications: Fader, Honore Magazine, adidas (South Africa), Elle Magazine and artists including Nigerian singer and record producer Davido, visual artist Esther Mahlangu and musician Petite Noir amongst many others.

Colour takes on a new meaning in Owen’s photography—it is moody and dramatic, vivant and pellucid. His enthusiasm and passion for light comes across in his exquisitely lit and often times fantastical images—an aesthetics of joy.

Owen’s work is a tableau of faces, limbs and bodies — the human form in all its glory. It contains as much energy as it does enchantment.

I have always been drawn to the human form, particularly faces. I am interested in the subtle differences and details from each face —person to person. We wear our experiences on our faces; even when we try and conceal our true emotions, they come across through the face. I try to strip everything down to reveal these emotions.

Owen credits his success in the industry to putting in the work, staying grounded and being deliberate about nurturing relationships.

There are so many photographers in this world, the quality of your work only generates interest but it is how you deal with clients on set that really matters in keeping good relationships.

When I quizzed him about his experience shooting legendary Ndebele artist Esther Mahlangu he responded: This was one of the best experiences of my career. Esther exudes honesty and power in a manner I have not seen before. She has a strong presence — almost ethereal. This experience will remain one of the best experiences and a career highlight.

Owen is not one to put restrictions on his process. His journey has diverged, pivoted and oscillated but eventually converging at the axis of film and photography.

I have done everything from graphic design, illustration, animation, editing —you name it. A lot of the times it was to ensure that I had a steady flow of income to allow me to start shooting for myself and making films. Things started to take off when I started shooting and now I find myself trying to slow down and be more deliberate with my work.

Prismatic, sunlit tones and unforgettable contrast found in Owen’s work inspire quiet delight and cathartic joy.

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