Gavin Goodman

Pleating Paper into

Sculptural Headwear

South African photographer Gavin Goodman had a vision to create a series influenced by traditional African headwear done with a modern and simplistic touch. Commissioning a local origami artist as a unique way to bring this vision to life, they transformed delicate paper into beautiful African-inspired sculptural objects. 


Gavin’s series titled LUHLAZA translates to the word “green” in Xhosa, the main African language spoken in Cape Town. With a simplistic approach in mind, the choice for a minimal colour palette was twofold – “Firstly, from an aesthetic point of view, I've always loved how beautifully this color compliments darker skin tones. And green has a calming, tranquil effect with strong associations towards nature which felt like an appropriate connection towards the imagery of African tribes I was originally inspired by,” says Gavin.


After stumbling upon unique origami art online, Gavin was inspired to execute his series with this delicate, malleable paper. “With a few designs drawn out and a detailed moodboard provided, we commissioned a local origami artist to create these gorgeous props for our shoot. Each prop was made by pleating a single piece of paper,” he explains.


Keeping his lighting soft but still directional, Gavin created a key light overhead by shaping and bouncing 2 flash heads off of a large white bounce that travelled through another large diffusion frame before hitting the subject. On the ground, there were two backlights also travelling through full diffusion frames. Creating a large, soft light source allowed his subject room to move around without the need to move lights accordingly. 

 The X1D II was an absolute pleasure to use on this shoot. It's officially my favourite camera system to date! Everything from the simple touch screen focus features to the quiet, unassuming size and manner it captures high resolution imagery really appeals to me and my process.

 I'm still in awe everytime I see one of these images captured on the X1D II in print form. I always strive to create as close to the final image as possible in camera. The color accuracy from my NEC calibrated monitor to the final prints are spot on, and honestly these images required very little fine tuning. The detail captured is so good it forces me to be quite precise on set as I know everything will be seen in glorious detail!


Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, Gavin Goodman is a passionate surfer and image maker. After film school, he spent 7 years shooting mostly TV commercials within the local film industry. Somewhere down the line, Gavin felt the call to switch to still photography and was able to transfer his eye for storytelling and technical knowledge of light and camera over to the new medium. Being based in Cape Town has given Gavin the opportunity to take part in many incredible campaigns over the years. Recently, he started a new venture called Semblance Agency where the team collaborates with interior designers to create photographic fine art for various developments around the world. See more of Gavin’s work here or @gavin_goodman.



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