George Hallett is a photographer based in Cape Town. He was born in District Six, Cape Town in 1942. He taught himself the craft as a child, and solidified his career as a documentarian with his District Six series, which documented his home community before forced removals took place. Fleeing South Africa in 1970, Hallett traveled throughout Europe, documenting the lives of fellow exiled South African artists, writers, and intellectuals. Hallett returned to South Africa in 1994, commissioned to photograph the first democratic elections. His photographs were published in a book, Images of Change, with over 140 black-and-white images of Nelson Mandela during the election. Hallett was also tasked with being the official photographer of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Hallett has exhibited across South Africa, Europe, and the U.S. in a career that spans over fifty years. His works are included in several permanent collections, including the Scomburg Centre for research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library and the South African National Gallery. Several books on George Hallett's work have been published since the 1980s, including, among others, Portraits of African Writers (2006), Images of Change (1995), and African Writers Portfolio (1981).
George Hallett's subject matter is notable in and of itself; perhaps no other photographer was as devoted to capturing the figureheads and events of such a tumultuous period of South Africa's history. Yet, what makes Hallett's work truly noteworthy is its consistently humanist approach. Across Hallett's archive, historical moments are marked not by spectacles, but by the rich, idiosyncratic nature of human stories.