matthew willman

Matthew Willman is a South African based documentary photographer, author & professional speaker. He has expressed himself through an extraordinary body of work which includes writing, storytelling and exhibition.

Willman has gained over 25 years’ experience working for some of the world’s foremost institutions in the field of visual communication, development and the visual arts. A true global citizen, Willman has worked in 48 countries tailoring his inventive brand of communication to the needs of an array of clients that include: Oxfam International (Australia), The World Health Organisation (Geneva), The Nelson Mandela Foundation (Johannesburg), The Bill Clinton Presidential Library (Little Rock Arkansas), The Vodafone Foundation (London), The National Underground Railroad Freedom Centre (Cincinnati), Robben Island Museum (Cape Town) and The European Commission (Brussels).

Willman has had the pleasure of being commissioned to photograph individuals from a cross-section of the global community. Private commissions include: US Presidents Barack Obama & President Bill Clinton, 7 South African Presidents, Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Annie Lennox.

Perhaps one of Willman’s greatest achievements was his significant contribution to the recording of the process of South Africa’s democratic change. In 2003 Willman was commissioned to archive and document the life and times of Nelson Mandela for the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Over the years this afforded him many intimate experiences with a man who for Willman embodies the very spirit and conviction we all possess as Africans in the world today. Willman’s collection of work is now central to the Mandela Centre of Memory & Presidential Library in Johannesburg.

In 2011 Willman founded a non-profit foundation trust to support his various endeavours with a focus on enabling young Africans in their quest for education and development within the field of visual and commercial arts. Matthew is a nomad hungry to engage, understand and experience the multifaceted world that exists out there in what Willman calls ‘The Human Condition’


‘Matthew is passionately connected to the complexity of his existence and those around him. I’m sure of Matthew’s gift, it’s not an issue…he connects with his passion…the rest just follows.’

Annie Lennox

Musician Song writer

‘Matthew has the ability to see and creatively narrate the essence of life where it is found, his work is seminal in its vision and iconic by its very nature’

John Pepper

Chairman of Walt Disney (Retired)

‘Mr Willman is a world-class talent whose striking and evocative images have found its place on the world stage.’​​​​

The Nelson Mandela Foundation


‘Matthew is a remarkably talented photographer and I am thrilled to see the quality of the work he is producing’.

​​​​Archbishop Desmond Tutu


‘Matthew’s passion and enthusiasm for his art, his sensitivity and love of people is immediately felt. This is how his magic begins, allowing his vision and mastery to come through his camera then onto paper. Willman’s work is a gift, an artist of world-class standing.’

Monsieur Hubert Hermes

House of Hermes, Paris.

Willman’s photography is timeless and helps contribute to the incredible work individuals, organisations and charities are doing everyday around the world.

​​​​​​Oxfam / WHO,


Select Galleries & Exhibitions

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center – Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
The Bill Clinton Presidential Library – Little Rock, Arkansas USA
The Vlinderpaleis, Antwerp Belgium
Bonhams SA Art Exhibition & Auction – London, UK
Conner Prairie, Indianapolis, USA
Art in the Yard – Franschhoek, South Africa
Areteos Gallery, Central, Hong Kong
World Human Rights Day – South African High Commission, London, UK
Oxfam International – Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Australia
Robben Island Collection – Cardiff, Wales
The SA Jewish Museum – Cape Town, South Africa
The Everard Read Gallery – Rosebank, Johannesburg
The Thon Dittmar Palais – Regensburg, Germany
The South African Embassy – Berlin, Germany
DEG Bank – Cologne, Germany
World Congress on HIV & Aids – Mexico City, Mexico
CHIVA Africa Exhibition – Pall Mall, London, UK
The Gallery – Rosebank, South Africa
‘Prisoner in the Garden’ – The Nelson Mandela Foundation – Houghton, South Africa
‘Dreams for Africa’ Chair – Durban Art Gallery – Durban, South Africa
Vukukhanye: Rising Up – Tromso, Norway
‘In our Hands’ Mandela & Rhino – Bowral, New South Wales, Australia

Books published include:

The MW Collection – 2009
We Called Him Madiba – 2014
Tripping Over Presidents – 2018
22 Years – 2020
Stepping Away – 2022


+27 (0)33 345 1857

Section 21: 2002/005186/08 | Non-Profit Organisation: 006-136NPO