© Leigh Skinner

Oscar Gutierrez was born in Guatemala, moving to the United States at a young age to complete his schooling in English, a language he could not speak at the time. Supporting himself through part-time jobs, Oscar moved on to an electrical engineering degree, working as an engineer and continuing his studies across several US states.

It was then that Oscar found his life’s calling, completing a photojournalism fine arts degree at the prestigious Rochester Institute of Technology. Since then, his photographic skills have been developed through experience that spans working as a photographer for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in the US, as a photojournalist in Latin America, and in commercial photography studios around the world.

Oscar currently lives and works in South Africa, having travelled to the region on assignment in 1994. He is internationally recognized for his work capturing images of the key moments in the country’s contemporary history. These range from intimate family moments to community meetings and school events, to many of the most important political and cultural events in post-Apartheid South Africa.

His work spans key moments and leaders in South Africa’s transition and constitution, portraiture of the country’s political leadership, images of artists and musicians in action, aerial cityscapes, and an honest portrayal of the country’s stark beauty and inequality.

Apart from Rochester Institute of Technology, Oscar has qualifications in International Business from St. Mary’s University, Texas; Management and Labour Relations from Lansing Community College/Michigan State University, Michigan; and Electrical Engineering from RCA/TCA Institute, New York.

Photographic projects

South African Democracy

  • Iconic moments in South Africa’s achievement of democracy from the first general elections in South Africa to the ANC’s annual National Congresses
  • Independent Electoral Commission during national elections
  • Key moments within the labour movement in South Africa

Development of South African constitution and Constitution Hill

Mozambican Democracy and Labour

  • Mozambique’s first general elections after its independence from Portugal
  • The living and working conditions of Mozambique mineworkers in South Africa


  • An extensive photographic archive of South African music and musicians playing at iconic venues from Bassline to Orbit and beyond
  • Festivals from Cape Town International Jazz Festival to the G8 Tribute to Nelson Mandela 2005

Commercial Photography

  • Coca-Cola Africa
  • Mobil Oil Africa
  • Ogilvy
  • Leo Burnett

Civil Society

  • Sonke Gender Justice Network
  • LoveLife
  • Johannesburg Development Agency
  • Mott Foundation


Last night at the Bassline, 2017: Oscar and anthropologist David Coplan collaborated on a book about the role that music played in South Africa’s recent history.

65 Years of Friendship, 2017: Oscar’s photography is featured in the account by George Bizos of his 65 years of friendship with former South African president Nelson Mandela.

Joburg, 2007 and Joburg, 2009: Oscar’s work and achievements featured in two photographic books on events, life and culture in Johannesburg.


Nelson Mandela Centenary Exhibition, 2018
Several group exhibitions in Africa and Europe, 2010 – 2020