Sunday, October 1, 2023

Q&A: Condry Calvin Mlilo

In the firing line of our quick questions this week is London-based Zimbabwean and photographer, Condry Calvin Mlilo – a guy who’s more than just great at positioning people in a lens.


Having shot some stunners, including Louis Vuitton’s Nykhor Paulsome of Naomi Campbell’s favourite faces and an FHM Top 100 Sexiest Women-listed model, Mr Mlilo’s had a great year, being published in Papercut MagazineFault Magazine and Institute Magazine “to just name a few.”


We sat the man (who also moonlights as Tirade Magazine‘s online editor) down to find out more – including how stylish he thinks he is, as well as what pressing tasks await in 2014…


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SPICE: Happy New Year Condry! How was your transition from 2013 to 2014? 

Condry: Happy New Year to you, too. I had a good transition and made some great steps towards the end of 2013, setting myself up for an interesting and exciting 2014. On NYE, some friends and myself went to the spectacular fireworks display in Westminster, so it was very lovely and calm… No crazy antics.

We know you’re a fashion and beauty photographer but how would you describe your role and what would you be doing if cameras were never invented?I am a visual artist really and if I wasn’t working with the camera as my medium, I would most likely be creating fashion or art of some sort. 

How’d you describe your daily grind in 3 words?

Enjoyment, energy and consistency  – in that order.


What’s the biggest myth you can dispel about your job/industry? 

There are quite a few but one that stands out is that clients and models that are not professional can be made to look as good as professional models do. The truth is, that is impossible, hence there are models who do it as a profession. Another myth would be that creatives work for free; people need to respect the craft and the profession.

“I owe everything to God really.”

Can you name-drop some of the people and publications you’ve worked with so far?

Tirade Magazine, Fault Magazine, Glass-Book Magazine, MOD-Magazine, FashizBlack Magazine, Institute Magazine and Papercut Magazine, just to name a few. I’ve also shot Vince Kidd (The Voice), Louis Vuitton model Nykhor Paul and FHM’s Top 100 Sexiest Women 2013 #88 and 2012’s #100, Franziska Klein. If you have watched recently Naomi Campbell’s hit show The Face, long before the show I worked with some of the girls on there: Nadine Silva Mendes and the feisty Racquel Smith. It was nice to see them go on and do well in the show. 


What was your most recent shoot about and where can we find it?

I recently did two amazing shoots that will be published in Issue 3 of Tirade Magazine, which can be purchased at Selfridges, Harrods and other stockists across the UK and overseas. The issue should be out in February, just before Fashion Week. The beauty shoot was a creative and colourful shoot done in a bath tub full of milk and different coloured liquids; quite dreamy, sexy and iconic. The fashion shoot was a menswear editorial, toying with the theme of travel – it features some cool props and layered styling; certainly one to look out for.


You work in fashion but how fashionable are you – scale of 10? 

I would like to think I have style. I do not really follow trends; I try and create my own style, piecing things together and coming up with some dope looks. I would rate myself an 8… 


The epitome of style to you is…?

Wearing something gracefully and making it your own; wearing something for you and not for your peers. When you look good, you feel good – and then no one else’s opinion matters.


“I would like to think I have style… I would rate myself an 8…” 

Who’d you love to work with if your contacts were limitless and living forever was a ‘thing’? 

There are quite a lot of people I would love to work with if given the chance. Tata Nelson Mandela would have created some iconic portraits, and I would have loved to shoot with Marilyn Monroe. Bianca Balti is a favourite of mine, and Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Natalie Portman are the ones that I can think of at the moment – but I am sure the list is huge.


Any brands/creatives in your field that have your attention atm?

I like the work of stylist Laurent Richer – he is one to look out for. I would love to work with Hila Karmand, too – she is a very talented makeup artist. I am bad with brand names but when I see something I like I know right there and then.


Fashion or beauty  – which do you secretly prefer to shoot?

Feels like cheating on one of the two if I answer this question (haha). I love both equally but I think beauty is the one I connect with more – it has more substance in my opinion.


“Beauty is the one I connect with more – it has more substance in my opinion.”


What would you say has been the biggest influence on your work to date?

I am inspired by life; life lessons and those around me. I walk around sometimes and see things that may seem normal to everyone else and it’s quite weird how those everyday occurrences can influence me or inspire me to go into the lab and put something together for a shoot. Ultimately I think wanting to be better for myself, family and friends is what drives me as I want to do everyone proud.


Who do you owe everything to? 

I owe everything to God really. I have been through a lot over the past few years and wouldn’t be where I am without prayer and God delivering. I also have a great mother who has never questioned my desire to pursue a career in visual arts, rather than becoming, say, a doctor or teacher. Especially being of African origin, I am grateful that my mother allowed me to be who I wanted to be.


2014, for you, will be…? 

About working even harder, building my clientele and venturing onto other projects, which you will know about in due time.  In 2014 I will be better than I am now; there certainly will be progress. As long as I am moving forward I will be happy. They say “progress is a slow process.” 

Lastly, what is the most pressing item on your to-do list? 

Got a few piling up, but mainly based around equipment as most of it is taking its toll. So getting a new shooting kit – camera, various lenses, monitors and lighting… Just to freshen everything up.


All images by Condry Calvin Mlilo.

Follow Condry on Twitter: @ccmphotography & Instagram : @condrycalvinmlilo

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