Dale Yudelman

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Overcoming adversity

Homelessness is often an overlooked reality for an estimated one hundred million people worldwide of which five million homeless live in South Africa. Many of these people go unseen and are merely just the ‘people of the street’. Yet, some of them no longer will go unnoticed. They have been given a voice; a voice to display their robustness and how they can survive despite the difficulties that everyday life throws at them. This voice is provided to them through the use of the lens thanks to Dale Yudelman.

Dale’s work reflects day-to-day life but in a way that highlights a lot more than, for example, a man roughly sleeping on the streets. They depict those who are trying to make a living and who have to face the difficulties of living ‘under democracy’. His work tends to have a political edge to it, sometimes focusing on those living in poverty. However, he turns these situations into something positive by using the photographs to comment on the fact that the people are still surviving despite their circumstances.


Like father, like son – inspired by his father Lou, who is an accomplished amateur photographer, Dale decided he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father at the mere age of 12. For the past 35 years, he has been capturing images around the country, as well as venturing across several continents to pursue his passion in the industry. He left South Africa in 1986, due to the unsettled situation under apartheid to continue a career as a photojournalist. Whilst in London he worked as a newspaper freelancer and then spent the next ten years in Los Angeles working for various media organisations. He returned to South Africa in 1996, the country of his birth, to pursue his passion, which was photography in his own right. Much of his work is inspired by scenes of real life in inner-city areas mainly around Cape Town and Johannesburg and turning the plight of someone’s life into an imaginative piece of photography.

Ernest Cole Award

His talent was recognized in 2011 by the University of Cape Town (UCT) in the shape of the Ernest Cole Award, which acknowledges photographers whose work highlights human rights or social change. The award is named after Ernest Cole, a South African photojournalist who created work inspired by what it meant to be black during the apartheid era. Speaking of his achievement, Dale said he felt grateful and honored winning this prestigious award. He is also thankful that the judges embraced his work even though it was ‘off the beaten track’, as this particular work was photographed on a cellphone.

Trying to find the groove

For Dale, feedback is an important factor to his success. Throughout his career, he has listened to the words of his father, friends and other artists whether it is criticism or praise. He describes his life long career as a ‘journey of trying to find the groove’ where his experience on the street has given him the most valuable practice, proving that you do not need formal education to succeed in the industry.

Advice from the maestro

Dale’s key advice to aspiring artists is to be patient, to think things through and to not rush trying to get your work out there. ‘Have fun along the way. Don’t take yourself too seriously,’ Dale asserted. ‘But take your work seriously. Perseverance and a deep passion for the subject is necessary. With these two qualities, you can get to wherever you want to be.’

Further work by Dale Yudelman can be found at http://www.daleyudelman.com


Some of Dale’s images below

Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the images (if you do nothing after opening the first image, a slideshow will run)


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