William Matlala, a worker in the food industry and shop steward in the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), started taking pictures for his union between 1980 and 1986. As the trade union movement became more actively embroiled in the political and economic front in South Africa, Matlala’s photography gravitated from portraiture to documentary, focusing on labour movement activities. His training included several workshops at Photo Teach, Market Photo Workshop, and with the Afrapix photographers’ collective. He also obtained a diploma in photography by correspondence. In 1989, he became a full-time photographer with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), and later worked for the South African Labour Bulletin (1992–1993). Since then, he has worked as a freelance photographer.
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