We thought we needed a superhero – someone to save us – until we realised that we could become exactly what was required.
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (22 July 2021) – Kierran Allen – a photographer from KwaZulu-Natal – decided to capture the riots, looting and eventually the community rallying together to rebuild Durban in order for South Africa to have real insight into what was happening on the ground.
For the past 16 years, Allen has captured content that connects people through creativity. He was just 15 years old when he decided that he would become a photographer.
“The idea of using a camera to create visuals that would influence how people view things intrigued me!”
He became obsessed with the craft. He now specialises in adventure, travel and wildlife photography and has gone across into hard news as and when a message of truth needs to get out there!
“Creating is my passion, and I’m super thankful to live this extraordinary life.”
We sat down with the incredible photographer to chat about what it was like during and after the riots.
What was it like being in the middle of the riots?
I have shot many protests and riots in SA over the years, but this one was different. To see people in so much desperation/poverty was sad. The apocalyptic scenes over the past week will go down in history as one of the worst. People running frantically, grabbing anything they can get their hands on with absolutely no idea of the damage that would follow!
A video that Allen put up on social media quickly went viral with hundreds and thousands of views. The photographer found himself in the middle of the mayhem in Watercrest Mall.
Watch it below:
That shopping centre footage looked harrowing; was it scary?
I was completely lost for words, I have been a photographer for 16 years and covered many protests around the country, but this was just on a whole new level!
For me to be ok with going into the mall alone takes years of experience. Knowing how to read a crowd and know the exact reason for what’s happening. In short, yes, it’s scary but getting the visual message out is far more important.
But Allen also found himself on the other side of the riots, while communities rallied to clean up together.
What was it like being there for the cleanup?
Being at the Cornubia clean up was heartwarming! Seeing people from all over come together for one common cause is what being South African is all about. It’s about taking ownership, being the change and taking charge of becoming the solution. South Africa needs this!
Allen says that South Africa is his home, and he loves his country and all who live here. His message to the country is that we need to move forward… together!
“We have so much to offer the rest of the world; let’s not let any negativity influence the work that is being done to create a better South Africa for all South Africans. Unity is the only way forward.”
If you would like to see more photos and videos, visit the Kierran Allen Photography Facebook page.