Gisele Wulfsohn

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Biographical information

Gisele Wulfsohn Image source


A freelance photographer specialising in portraiture, education, health and gender issues

First name: 
Last name: 
Date of birth: 
Location of birth: 
Rustenburg,South Africa
Date of death: 
Location of death: 
Johannesburg,South Africa

Gisèle Wulfsohn is a freelance photographer specialising in portraiture, education, health and gender issues. Gisèle studied Graphic Fine Art at the Johannesburg College of Art, after which she joined The Star newspaper in 1979, where she worked as a staff photographer. In 1983 she became staff photographer for STYLE magazine, and in 1986 she was appointed chief photographer for Leadership Magazine. In 1987 she went freelance and joined AFRAPIX - a photographic collective that documented social issues and the anti-apartheid struggle.

Since the late1980s she has documented various HIV/Aids awareness initiatives. In l999/2000, while working for the Dept of Health's Beyond Awareness Campaign, she compiled a series of portraits of 31 South Africans who had publicly disclosed their HIV status. Her Living Openly photographs were published extensively in newspapers and magazines around South Africa, and were exhibited at the Durban International Aids Conference (July 2000).

This project was featured in an e-TV documentary (also entitled Living Openly) that was broadcast four times in August 2000. The Living Openly exhibition has now been displayed at various centres and conferences in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng, including at the Aids In Context Conference at WITS University in April 2001. It will be exhibited next at the Healing Through Creative Arts Conference at Museum Afrika, Johannesburg, in November/December 2001.

Gisèle's photographs have been published internationally in publications such as Der Spiegel (Germany), Marie Claire (UK, Germany, Poland, Hong Kong), The Lancet, Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, The Economist, New Internationalist, as well as in numerous local specialist and general publications. In addition, her photographs have appeared in various corporate Annual Reports.

In 1994 she was commissioned by the Independent Electoral Commission together with four other photographers to document the first democratic elections in South Africa. These pictures were published in a book entitled An End to Waiting. She was picture editor/photographer for The South African Women's Health Book published by Oxford University Press in conjunction with The Women's Health Project in l996.

In 2000 she was commissioned by OXFAM UK and Frances Lincoln Publishers to take the photographs for a children's' counting book, entitled One Child, One Seed, set in rural KwaZulu Natal. This book is currently on the Exclusive Books Publishers' Choice list of the nine best children's books for 2001.

In 2001 she was commissioned by Frances Lincoln to research, write and photograph Bongani's Day: From Dusk to Dawn in a South African City - part of an international series. Bongani's Day will be published in 2002.

Her work is held with Panos Pictures in London, and with Gallo Images in Johannesburg.

Gisèle lives in Johannesburg and is married to Mark Turpin. They have twin sons, Samuel and Joseph, aged six.

Further reading: Gisele Wulfsohn – the late photography legend had a vision to expose social injustices

• Waller M & B. Waller B, (2000), A bigger picture: a manual of photojournalism in southern Africa, (Juta M), p. 337
• Gisele Wulfsohn, from Walkerbooks, [online] Available at [Accessed 08 September 2011]
• Gisele Wulfsohn, from Francis Lincoln Publishers, [online] Available at  [Accessed 08 September 2011]

Last updated : 04-Apr-2018

This article was produced by South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011

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