Thom Pierce – 40 powerful photos of masked horsemen in Southern Africa

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Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 5. Lebohang Monyamane – Letseng, Lesotho, 2016

Published: January 30, 2017

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Introduction

In May 2016, photographer Thom Pierce spent 8 days in the Semonkong highlands capturing the rawness of the majestic horsemen and women against the most astounding Lesotho background. Through his photographic medium, Pierce manages to blur the line between fine art, portrait, and documentary photography.

The Semonkong region of Lesotho

In the Drakensberg Mountains, the Semonkong region of Lesotho is comprised of various small villages. Semonkong is nestled high up in the mountains; so the area is almost entirely inaccessible by car. Some villages are close to four or five hours apart, so the local population has to find creative ways to move from one community to another. Mostly, the villagers utilize horses as their primary means of transport; the horses also come in handy for trading and herding.

The Horsemen of Semonkong

The images speak for themselves without having to necessarily rely on text-based descriptions. The series contains a total of 42 photographs, and they consist of horsemen and women and young herders, as well as the commuters Pierce encountered during his journey. The blankets adorned by the subjects make such the strong visual statement that makes it impossible to ignore them.

Analysis

His photographs engage the viewer almost immediately, and one cannot help but feel a connection with the men, women, and children that took part in the series. The immediacy in his portraits grabs our attention to transfer such pertinent information within a nanosecond. With the proliferation of photographic images nowadays, it is often difficult for a photographer to captivate audiences within such a short time frame.

Conclusion

There is a quality to the portraits and the subjects that almost resemble knights of valor partly because of the blankets and balaclavas, but also because of the horses. The combination of the horses and the stunning Lesotho landscape produces a product that is quite dramatic, yet there is a balance between the drama of the subjects and their horses and the exquisiteness of the landscape. The result is portraits that convey the majesty and pride of the people of Semonkong.

Photos

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 1. Thabo Lekhotsa - Ha Lesala, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 1. Thabo Lekhotsa – Ha Lesala, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 2. Letima Tokata - Ha Sechache, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 2. Letima Tokata – Ha Sechache, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 3. Thapelo Moiloa with his dog Limo - Ha Salemore, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 3. Thapelo Moiloa with his dog Limo – Ha Salemore, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 4. Hlokomelang Motoko (8 years old) - Semonkong, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 4. Hlokomelang Motoko (8 years old) – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 6. Paleho Silase - Ha Bati, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 6. Paleho Silase – Ha Bati, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 7. Tholonna Mopa - Semonkong, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 7. Tholonna Mopa – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 8. Fusi Lekhotla - Ha Mateketa, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 8. Fusi Lekhotla – Ha Mateketa, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 9. Lehlohonolo Phethoka - Ha Molajafe, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 9. Lehlohonolo Phethoka – Ha Molajafe, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 10. Thabang Ntomane - Ha Maluke, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 10. Thabang Ntomane – Ha Maluke, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 11. Chabeli Mothabeng - Semonkong, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 11. Chabeli Mothabeng – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 12. Fihlela Ramanyatsi - Semonkong, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 12. Fihlela Ramanyatsi – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 13. Bokang Lijo - Ketane, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 13. Bokang Lijo – Ketane, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 14. Bokang Makhala - Ha Thabo

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 14. Bokang Makhala – Ha Thabo, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 15. Thabo Ntoi - Ha Muahloli, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 15. Thabo Ntoi – Ha Muahloli, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 16. Thabo Moso - Tsenekeng, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 16. Thabo Moso – Tsenekeng, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 17. Tseko Masotsa - Ha Lesale, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 17. Tseko Masotsa – Ha Lesale, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 18. Thabang Moholi - Ma Letsunyane, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 18. Thabang Moholi – Ma Letsunyane, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 19. Shabe Shakhane - Ha Ramosoathoane, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 19. Shabe Shakhane – Ha Ramosoathoane, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 20. Teoho Malme - Ha Hlalele, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 20. Teoho Malme – Ha Hlalele, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 21. Teboho Mokhele - Ha Lesale, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 21. Teboho Mokhele – Ha Lesale, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 22. Morolela Mosetako - Ha Matete, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 22. Morolela Mosetako – Ha Matete, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 23. Motlatsi Lesenyetho - Ha Bati, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 23. Motlatsi Lesenyetho – Ha Bati, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 24. Mokhabi - Semonkong, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 24. Mokhabi – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 25. Tlali Tlali - Semonkong, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 25. Tlali Tlali – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 26. Lilotho Ramalei - Ha Tsekane, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 26. Lilotho Ramalei – Ha Tsekane, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 27. Lucas Phethoka - Tsenekeng, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 27. Lucas Phethoka – Tsenekeng, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 28. Thabiso Tsietsi - Ha Mahluti, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 28. Thabiso Tsietsi – Ha Mahluti, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 29. Taboho Pakara - Tsenekeng, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 29. Taboho Pakara – Tsenekeng, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 30. Retselisitsoe - Semonkong, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 30. Retselisitsoe – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 31. Mamasisi and Masisi Letsapo - Mohlakeng, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 31. Mamasisi and Masisi Letsapo – Mohlakeng, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 32. Maphakela Kuenehelo - Semonkong, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 32. Maphakela Kuenehelo – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 33. Rethabile Motsapi - Tsenekeng, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 33. Rethabile Motsapi – Tsenekeng, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 34. Paulosi Lethibelani - Ketane, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 34. Paulosi Lethibelani – Ketane, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 35. Khothatso Motake - Ketane, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 35. Khothatso Motake – Ketane, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 36. Mpho Khanyapa - Ketane, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 36. Mpho Khanyapa – Ketane, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 37. Motiki Lepheane - Semonkong, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 37. Motiki Lepheane – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 38. Motaba Motaba - Ha Seqhoasho, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 38. Motaba Motaba – Ha Seqhoasho, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 39. Mohlouoa Makafane - Ha Seqhoasho, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 39. Mohlouoa Makafane – Ha Seqhoasho, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 40. Mohasoa Motoko - Semonkong, Lesotho

Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 40. Mohasoa Motoko – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

All images: Thom Pierce.

 

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