Monday, March 27, 2017

Portrait Shoot: Pierre van Heerden

So a number of years back I did a shoot of Pierre van Heerden, South African actor, musical performer, playwright and comedian, at my old studio. It was just for fun, really. I was exploring some portraiture ideas, for a project I was considering at the time. We had a great time shooting these, exploring some cool ideas as we spent the morning talking rubbish, laughing and drinking coffee.

Fast forward some years later, and he contacted me to do an update of the images, but this time for his book.

The images were meant for publicity purposes, his marketing material and such, but what I want to share here is just some of the expression shots we did once we had those in the bag. Working with an actor in stills is great, as they know their face, they know expressions and have a large selection of facial "skills" to employ for a portrait.

I would simply call out a bunch of emotions/expressions and he would comply each time.

The "30 second portrait" I made is an idea that I got from Chase Jarvis, who did some 60 second portraits a couple of years ago and I really liked that. Something happens when you look at someone's face for an extended period of time. To me it seems like that defining moment in a picture can sometimes be a bit restrictive. Stretch that defining moment by 30 seconds, and your initial take of the portrait might differ. These videos explore that idea.

Anyways, here are some of the expression stills we ended up with:

(c) Danie Nel Photography cc

Friday, March 24, 2017


Herewith a little video I put together for Creation Wines's leg of Stage 2 of the 2017 ABSA CAPE EPIC MTB Race. #untamed

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Corporate Portraits with Sham Moodliar

So Sham came over to the studio a couple of weeks ago to get some corporate portraits done. Portraits have always been something I really enjoy, especially if the brief is slightly more open. Well, this brief was open in that I could do whatever, as long as it spoke to Sham's view on corporate governance, business views and his general maverick outlook on all things business.

He is a business consultant, but also owns a skate-wear line, and has been working in corporate positions all over the world for many years. He has now turned his attention to helping corporates unlock their potential by being more open-minded, personal and for lack of a better word, more relationship-focused entities. It's probably best if you google his articles. I won't do it justice. All I can say is, I had fun!

Here Sham and I even did a mirror selfie for Instagram. This should give you an idea of the tone of the whole affair!

Sham is a guy who waxes lyrically about his passion, view and lust for life. I felt completely energised after the shoot to go out and be the difference in my industry I want to see.

What is important about shooting "off-kilter" corporate portraits is that the balance with usability, relevence and presentability to media needs to be retained, no matter how off the wall your client's image might be. Not that Sham is any way a clown,  but the temptation is there to go so far out on these type of shoots, to make a point about "image" or "brand" that you end up completely alienating the media or audience you're targeting.

No matter how wild you are, some publications simply will not publish images of people clowning around, and will need you to supply images that fit their requirements, yet still speak to your own brand.

It is very dangerous to insist on having only unusual corporate portraits and images. As the photographer, I have to be able to use the portrait to still capture the person's unique character and message in a way that is still palatable to the more conservative media.

On the other side of the coin, it is important to make sure that your imagery that are slightly off the wall are not cliched versions of well-known images that does not even relate well to you. Being unusual for the sake of being unusual is a recipe for disaster. Make sure your message is well-defined and contained within the image.

A pic of a guy in a suit jumping might look cool, but be completely pointless if it does not speak to the business or individual in the image. Imagine finding out that the person jumping for joy in his suit is your local undertaker and is planning on using that image for local media and marketing. Hmm.

Ultimately, the best defense is to have a good collection of images that can speak to different publications, people and topics.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Wellness in the City #ActiveChallenge Video

So, Marisa from Wellness in the City contacted me last year and proposed a little project. (I know her as a PR Boss at Butterknife PR). One of her projects away from the PR business is a wellness blog/website she runs with her friend and co-fitness-fanatic, Nicole Upton. They've taken to doing different kinds of fitness regimes for a month or two, with some sort of final goal in mind. Training and finishing a triathlon, for instance.

So back to the proposal. This time around the ladies decided that boxing training was where it's at. Or possibly could be at. I was asked to come and join them (with my video gear) at one of their Virgin Active training sessions with coach Enver Pockpass, a mean boxer himself. The idea was to record the initial session, where they would be learning the ropes of the training, and then, to arrive again a month later to capture the completion of their goal: taking on Siv Ngesi, actor and amateur boxer, for a full-on, hour's worth of boxing training. Note, not sparring. Siv won't hit girls, and they would have no problem hitting him, so that would just not work.

I was impressed from the get-go. The ladies, already being fit going into this, had body awareness and co-ordination that made it easier for them to get the basic ideas behind boxing training. However, what they were not ready for, I think, was what it feels like to get hit during conditioning training. The coach would "condition" them by quickly hitting them with pads on the arms and shoulders. Now, guys are used to this, as we horse around as youngsters, and basically condition our bodies to taking beatings. Girls, not so much. Their expressions at being hit was quite funny, actually. Almost like "that is way uncomfortable". And me standing there, thinking "nah, really, you think?"

Also, the intensity of boxing training was also something new to them, I think. Hitting, bobbing and weaving, floating like butterflies and stinging like bees actually take a huge amount of energy. Core strength, leg strength, stamina and perseverance are part and parcel of boxing training.

So how did they fare? Well, I think pretty darn good. Siv is one intense training partner. With screams, trash-talking and more testosterone you can wave a stick at, it made for an interesting bout. Needles to say, the ladies had no problem keeping up with the fitness side of things. Siv just hit the pads and bags way harder! Well, you can see in the video, so no use talking about that too much!

Anyways, in terms of technical, video-geek stuff, there is not much to share. Basically 2 5D's, GoPro and sliders, etc.

To me, the best part was actually how inspiring this all was. In my younger years I was a very keen martial artists (Chinese Kung Fu), but have since become unfit, and actually a bit lazy. Fighting arts, and training, just conjures up such emotions of bad-assery, and speaks directly to that lizard-brain, hunter deep inside me. So: I've been looking around at some training facilities to get myself into shape again.

So ladies, job well done. 1 Person motivated to get fit and healthy again.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Howzit. Like seriously, howzit. I have been so so bad at posting anything on my blog these last 2 years. And I realise it might be that people don't want to read any more, but would rather gather formation in "kewl www spk" and not actual reading. Which is fine, I post on Instagram for those who don't read, and Tweet, for those who don't read much, and even Facebook a little, for those who read little, yet care to comment much.

Anyways, it's time I start doing more of this. It is like a bit of a debrief from my daily workings and life. "Vlogging" is probably an option, but I'm too pedantic, and will want to make videos that are of broadcast quality and miss the point by adding unnecessary work onto my plate. The reason I'm blogging so little is that I simply don't have that much time.


I've run out of time and need to go.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Making my own Music Videos

I often do music related shoots, video and stills, but now and again, and this is very seldom, I get to do that for myself, as in, my own music.

I have 2 main music projects that I work on, this is apart from serving in a worship ministry at The one is something called "Danie Nel" - wow, I know! This is more main stream rock and folk and easier listening compositions. Then I have an alter-ego, called "Crashtackle", which as the name suggests, tackles your ears and make them submit. This is more metal and hard-rock and whatever I feel like doing.

So for Crashtackle's song, "Hammerfall" I have made a video before. If you scroll down on the blog, you'll see that post. Now, there is a new song, "The Reaper", but here I shot very little of the actual footage, but for some performance imagery that is added into the video for balance and context. The rest of the footage I obtained from the public domain, specifically through the "Pond 5 Public Domain Project".

Anyways, the music video is mostly a  visual atmosphere accompanying the lyrics, which deals with the failings of humanism and human thinking. In short, most wars, and especially those done in the name of God, but not with his blessing, are simply products of erroneous human thinking and ideology.

Anyways, herewith the video:

And for convenience, here is the video for "Hammerfall"

Anyways, till next time, enjoy the tunes!!

You can also get the tune on Spotify, Amazon Mp3 and all major online retailers and streaming services, otherwise just play it on YouTube like crazy!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Shooting a Time-Lapse on Cape Town

So herewith a little video of how I shot the time-lapses I ended up using in my Hammerfall video for Crashtackle, my band.

On this particular day, in early 2014, the wind was absolutely howling, as it does when the clouds look best on Table Mountain. I apologise for the bad sound! Where necessary I added subtitles.

In short: I used the Triggertrap MD3-N3 Mobile Dongle and N3 Cable Kit Remote Release for Canon (Red) with my Samsung Galaxy Note, a Canon 5D Mk II with a variety of lenses, a Manfrotto tripod and a sandbag. I also mention the nice little cell phone holder designed for bicycles, that holds the phone in place, as it triggers the camera. For your convenience here is a link to where you can get the Trigger Trap.

Settings: 1 second intervals

The reason is that the clouds were actually moving quickly as it is, and if I made the intervals any longer, at 25 frames per second in the final render, the clouds would move too quickly and look comical, not dramatic.

Render: 25 frames per second, 1080p

And here is the music video I ended up using it in:

The clips are also available as stock footage directly from me. Please contact me for pricing.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Danie Nel VIDEO: Loki Rothman - Wheel don't turn.

As promised, herewith another video I did for Loki Rothman, this time a lyric/performance video of his new song from his upcoming album. The song is "Wheel don't Turn".

It was all shot in studio, and took a couple of hours to film. Then the editing and voila! It took a bit of co-ordination to pass him the guitar after taking the ukulele, to film and swing in the mic at the right time! Ultimately, we're very happy with the result.

Check it out!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Danie Nel VIDEO: Loki Rothman performing "Uptown Funk"

I had the opportunity to shoot Loki's latest performance video, a cover version of the Mark Ranson/Bruno Mars number, "Uptown Funk". The great thing about shooting this is the relative freedom I had in choosing angles and playing with all my toys. I used a jib, a slider, a GoPro, 2 DSLR's simultaneously, a bunch of my lights and good music to boot.

There is not a heck of a lot to tell in terms of behind the scenes, but he had to play the song about 10 times, and we got the footage in about two hours. So far the response has been very good.

Watch this space for another Loki Rothman video coming soon.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Creation Wines Ad for Online Ordering

Unfortunately I don't have any behind the scenes video or footage of this particular shoot, but I thought I'd share it anyways.
The client needed a short video to add to a newsletter encouraging people to order their wines from the client's online shop. The storyline/concept was supplied by the client and I was tasked to make it happen.
The bulk was shot in about 2 hours in a guesthouse in Stellenbosch that was loaned to us! It was shot at almost noon, so we had to black out the place quite a bit, and I needed to gel some lights to get the desired "night-time" effect.
The actor, Khail, also happens to work for Creation Wines, but was an excellent sport and did a great job. For the record: the idea was a cheesy comedy feel, almost slap-stick. His colleague, Karlè Briedenhann, who is a professional actress and is involved in wine part-time, directed his performance and was also largely responsible for the concept.
In terms of crew.... well. It was I and my alter-ego's Gaffer-Dan, Dolly-Dan, Camera-Dan, Key-Dan, Editor-Dan, Dan-of-Photography and a bunch of other low-level Dan's. That is the way I, myself and we roll.