Sunday 14 August 2011, by Cécile Desbrun

Born in 1965 in Johannesburg, South Africa, Kevin Mackinstosh began his career as a photojournalist in his native country before leaving for England a little more than 20 years ago to study theatre and film and where, ultimately, he became a professional photographer, working mainly for fashion publications and advertisements. He also makes portraits. His artistic formation learnt him how to use a narrative in his photographs, to give them a cinematic feel and there’s often a surreal, fantasy-like dimension in his striking and colourful photographs that owed him recognition. "My work is my storytelling," he says. "I consider my work as a photographer as a journey, always throwing up different chapters in which to consider." His influences in arts include filmmakers Federico Fellini, Emir Kusturica or Giuseppe Tornatore as well as painters Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon.

He published his work in publications such as Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Muse, Fashion Inc., Condé Nast, Harper’s and Queen, Times, Visionaire, Architectural Digest, World of Interiors, House and Garden-America, Bloom or View on Colour and he also made advertisement campaigns for Judeirah, Aveda, le Printemps and Kenzo.

He’s been working in collaboration with South African set and prop designer Daryl McGregor, whom he met when he was teaching art at the Michaelis School for Fine Art in Cape Town for over 10 years. "Daryl brings his knowledge of art and history to the set," he says.

This is his vision and sensibility to storytelling that owed him to be chosen by Tori Amos to make the visuals for her eight studio album, The Beekeeper. "I choose people I think are very tapped into the sonic vision and are able to listen and help translate this into a tangible visual," Tori said in an interview for Rip It Up Magazine on April 28, 2005. "The art director and photographer worked with my manager Chelsea Laird and myself on what the six gardens were. I named the gardens and wrote about what the gardens were. Kevin Mackintosh is one of the great art directors in England and has the lighting and ability to capture and tell a story. He’s worked with Italian Vogue and he’s South African. I usually have an international crew because I want a vision that’s global." The photographer shot the pictures symbolizing the different gardens of the songs that are included in the booklet of the album.

In 2005, he was commissioned to do a photo session with the Bolshoi Ballet Company in Moscow just before the theatre closed for a 10-year renovation period. His photographs were made to document the troup and theatre in what is now its historical state. This work was first exhibited in Moscow in 2005 before travelling to South Africa. He also photographed many celebrities, including Vivienne Westwood and Keira Knightley and The National Portrait Gallery of London has acquired some of his photographs in their permanent collection.

Mainly residing in London, he splits his time for work between London, New York and Paris and goes back to South Africa on a regular basis, to shoot some photographs or just to get back to his roots.