Maropeng Vushangwe

A man in a patterned jumper, white trousers and white shoes walks near a blue wall with white windows. Taken on a Canon EOS R by Canon Ambassador Maropeng Vushangwe.

"This image was captured just after sunset in Cape Town," says film director Maropeng Vushangwe. "We had really minimal natural light, and just played around with it." Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens at 1/200 sec, f/2.8 and ISO 200. © Maropeng Vushangwe

No two days are the same for film director Maropeng Vushangwe. Whether it's working with actor Forest Whitaker or filming musician Stormzy up on stage, the Canon Ambassador's career is hugely varied and consistently on the rise.

"I feel like it's just been the grace of God," says Maropeng, reflecting on his career to date. "Obviously, you do the best that you can, but you can also be up against financial constraints, or other constraints which limit you. But suddenly you think, 'I'm filming with Forest Whitaker' or 'I'm flying around the world for my work' and it's amazing."

Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Maropeng moved to South Africa in 2012 to study directing, producing and scriptwriting at City Varsity. He also went on to study cinematography and completed his Master's at AFDA in Cape Town.

Today, he is renowned for his stylish videos across film, television, music and commercials, but he didn't pick up a camera until he was a teenager. "My dad had a camera when we were growing up in Zimbabwe, but I wasn't allowed to play with it because I was the youngest of my siblings," he says. "I was looking at my options during high school and considered being a psychiatrist for a short time, but my maths wasn't amazing. Then I decided to apply to film school in Cape Town, and that changed everything."

A headshot of Canon Ambassador Maropeng Vushangwe smiling through a car window. © Mzungawi Maclean
Location: South Africa

Specialist areas: Filmmaking, directing, producing

Favourite kit: Canon EOS R5 C
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM (now succeeded by the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM)
Canon Ambassador Maropeng Vushangwe's showreel containing clips of his various projects.

Maropeng, whose first Canon camera was an EOS 700D, began experimenting with his mother's camera during high school. "My mum was an estate agent and she used to take pictures of the properties," he explains. "I really enjoyed using her camera, so I continued using Canon when I moved to South Africa to study."

The more he learned about filmmaking, the more Maropeng fell in love with the profession. "Initially, I just wanted to make movies," he says. "Then I began to learn about the different roles: a director, a producer, cinematographer, and various other technical positions. I still do photography here and there, but everything has just kept on growing."

A man in a black and white patterned shirt leans against a wall and looks down at the ground, in a photo taken on a Canon EOS R by Canon Ambassador Maropeng Vushangwe.

Maropeng's portfolio is bursting with slick and stylish commercial shots, such as this one. "This is a friend of mine, a model from Angola and he is brilliant," he says. "This was one of our first photoshoots together, and I was a one-man crew at that time. I was praying that the light stand didn't get blown away! Luckily it all came together." Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens at 200mm, 1/200 sec, f/2.8 and ISO 100. © Maropeng Vushangwe

A portrait of a woman in a one shoulder blue top and pink hair, holding a Himalayan salt crystal in her hand. Taken on a Canon EOS R by Canon Ambassador Maropeng Vushangwe.

A commercial image taken at the studio in Cape Town. "I'm addicted to smoke machines," says Maropeng. "I like to smoke it up to create some amazing visual effects." Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens at 170mm, 1/160 sec, f/2.8 and ISO 320. © Maropeng Vushangwe

It's not just his love of filmmaking which has grown – Maropeng has continued to hone his slick style as his career has moved forward. "I like to make each project I work on personal – I enjoy the smooth shots, and giving the editors the type of shots that they can speed ramp," he says. "I'm also into handheld filmmaking, and I love working with lens flares. I think that encapsulates my style."

As for whether he prefers shooting stills or video? "I think I might lean more towards video, to be honest," he admits. "That's my space, that's what I'm known for. It's where I really thrive."

What has been your most challenging shoot to date?

"I worked on a shoot where I had to film 'out of town'. Sometimes, I can be a wimp when it comes to nature and bugs and things like that, so the crew will know that if the camera needs to get close to water, they really have to convince me! We had two challenges – the actress hadn't told us that she couldn't swim, and we were shooting at a lagoon. When you got in, you were knee-deep, and there were these harmless creepy crawlies, but they were dancing around my feet the entire time. I had to just get the shot, and it looks phenomenal now, but I always remember it was a tough environment for me. I was thinking, 'These things could bite me and what happens if I drop my camera?' It was challenging and uncomfortable, but we got there. I have also filmed in South Africa's townships, and we have had to get in and tell a story, on one occasion without security. But we got it done."

What's been the most valuable lesson you've learnt during your career?

"Communication, communication, communication – from start to finish, on any project. I often have so much going on, and then I need to keep on top of emails. Some days, I will work on multiple shoots in a day. You just have to keep communicating. And that might mean on a shoot day, you have to say, 'Listen, guys, I just need 20 minutes to send a really important email.' It's nice in this industry that people understand and respect that."

Do you have a favourite location to shoot in?

"I really enjoy going to new places, so anything that allows me to travel is amazing. But I also love the commercial space, as you can be so creative."

What's next for you?

"I want to shoot in every country in the EMEA region, and also in the United States of America. Other than that, I would just like to continue to film amazing stuff and meet new people and broaden the knowledge – not only for me, but also for the team I have been growing. That way, it is a win for all of us."

One thing I know

Maropeng Vushangwe

"Relationships are so important. The next person you meet could be the contact for your next gig, so it's really important to treat everyone you meet nicely. Keep it rocking with every single person that you meet, and meet as many people as you can. Then when the opportunities come through, just make the most out of them – really go all the way, and don't hold back."

Instagram: @directorbling


Maropeng Vushangwe's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Canon Ambassador Maropeng Vushangwe's kitbag containing Canon cameras, lenses and accessories.


Canon EOS R5 C

Combining the best of Cinema EOS with all the advantages of the EOS R System, this camera allows you to shoot incredible 8K movies and capture rich, detailed 45MP stills. "This is my personal favourite," says Maropeng. "This camera goes beyond just video. It is a cinema camera which allows us to compete internationally and to create images that are fantastic in all spaces possible."

Canon EOS R

A full-frame 30.3MP sensor with impressive detail, ISO performance and Dual Pixel CMOS AF. "I have had this camera for years and I take it almost everywhere," says Maropeng. "The sensor can produce pure magic."


Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM

This wide-angle prime lens boasts a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture and macro capabilities. "This angle is twofold for me," explains Maropeng. "It gives me the room to shoot wide shots, and in the next second, I can go in close for macro shots when we need to get details."

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM

This fast-aperture telephoto zoom is a favourite with photographers spanning all genres. "This is my go-to lens for my stills shots," says Maropeng. "I love the creamy bokeh I get from this lens and its versatility." Now succeeded by the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

A short telephoto focal length, combined with a large maximum aperture and fast autofocus, make this lens ideal for portraits. "This lens is portrait heaven for me," says Maropeng. "I love the compression I get from this lens."


Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT

Take a new approach to lighting with a Speedlite flash that's powerful, versatile and portable. Radio-frequency triggering makes off-camera flash easy to do, and opens up new ways to get creative with your photography.

Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT

Usable off-camera or in its hotshoe, this flash gives you the versatility you need to take complete control of your lighting. "This is my best friend when shooting events," says Maropeng.

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