Friday, December 07, 2007

End of year...

Well, the season is upon us and it is indeed a time of rest..., but not before all deadlines are set 2 weeks earlier, all magz need to be put out in half-time to make up for printer's holidays, and get the bumper issues out plus all the end of year things that keep us busy. You gotta love it. If you don't you're probably in the wrong game.

I'm looking forward to a great holiday in the balmy Mpumalanga region and then to the breezy West Coast for the second half of the holiday. For photographers however (me, especially), this does not mean putting down the camera, but rather turning it on my enivironment, family, self and just letting myself loose. I never holiday from my camera, it is what I do. It is such a natural extension of myself, that I cannot but take pictures. I see to much, think too much, do too much, feel too much to just switch off. I just switch gears, or cars!

You must have a fantastic time this Christmas. I will! I'm as always on my cell, mail etc, so don't hesitate to call.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fold a reflector

For you photo-assistants, go have a look at how to fold a Lastolite reflector...well, not very effectively, but do-able... I do it in a split second...maybe I'll upload a video!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Djembe man!

2 Days ago, at one of the "Tourist" weddings I do from time to time for KapEvent (mostly German tourists wanting to tie the knot in our fair land), I ended up playing in a drum circle with the minister, a guest djembe performer and the bridal couple! This was the idea of the minister (Walter - a fervant drummer) to give the tourists some Africa to take back. Well, not being a stranger to having to perform multiple roles in weddings (2 days before that I sang and took pics at a friend's wedding), I was most willing to oblige.

Ah, the joys of my job!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Shooting a recipe book

I had the good fortune to shoot a recipe book for NB (Media24). Without giving away too much info, all I can say it was good fun. So people wonder, what happens to food after the shoot. Well, we eat it. Simple as that.

In the old days, yes, people used to use lamp-oil to make food look nice and shiny, but since the fall of the National Party, someone has discovered olive oil and it is actually possible through the very capable hands of chefs like Jean Nel, food stylist Khanya Hunt and her right-hand woman, Thandeka (Winkie), and some basic photo technique from moi (but it's all them really), to make food look good 2-dimensionally, and then eat it afterwards.

How long does it take? Well, we were at it for 5 full days. Styling and prepping takes a long time, and while all that happens I need to get the light right, composition etc, so that when the food arrives hot and steamy, we can shoot and get it out of the way before sauces congeal etc etc etc.

Anyways, I had good fun, as you guys can see from the piccie!

Updates are a'coming

To those whove been waiting for portfolio updates, especially on the Wine side.... they're coming, hang tight!!!

Monday, September 10, 2007


I've been thinking about the "thumb-print" phenomenon in the creative industry and how your work carries a certain sublime signature trademark, recognised instantly by those who know your work.

I've over the years sported a serious of flash-in-the-pan thumb-prints, but mostly I think these were personal trends, discoveries, or simple leanings, that permeated my work at different stages. I have lately noticed a certain amount of similarity, not tangible enough to define, but noticable nonetheless, in my creative work. Especially in portraiture, landscapes and commercial portrait work.

One or 2 of my clients hold their own ideas on my thumb-print, some quite confidently, but I'm not quite convinced yet. Is it something one should pursue? Or should one be neutral, as a commercial photographer, almost askewing thumb-prints to be more commercially adabtable? Even as I'm writing this, I know the answer. One can't ignore your thumb-print or leanings, as these define your work, and ensures you are not a clone of the commercial photography genre as a whole.

One would almost then begin to wonder whether a thumb-print should be actively pursued, or rather left do develop in its own good time? I would think leaving it (if you do the amount of work I do anyways) to develop, as stimulation is more than enough. If you are however a amateur, and don't shoot that often (I shoot up to 5000 - 6000 frames a month), maybe you should spend time shooting to develop. I've been doing photography as a hobby and career collectively for 17 years now, so I've had plenty time to develop skills and be in loads of situations that challenge my creativity.

Another random thought comes to mind, and that is that a thumb-print most certainly isn't just a sum of all your photographic skills, but almost certainly would have roots in your personality and character. Even in commercial work there is room for expression. In fact, you'll be amazed to see the different result photographers come up with with wine bottle pack shots for instance! I am very phlegmatic by nature, but with an earlier history (and still some definite undercurrents) of melancholy temperament. Being phlegmatic helps me tremendously to deal with people in stresssed situations, or just generally helping everyone to chill while we're working, and this has an influence on my work. Even on landscapes. Rather than necessarily try and control the elements I'm much more proned to work with the elements in a shot. My melancholy nature however is the perfectionist that doesn't allow me to just let go, willy nilly, and has often prompted me to re-set up shots because I wasn't entirely satisfied, even if the client would've been. That part of me also allows for technical excellence, and the continual pursuit thereof. All this will show in a collection of images.

Then there is the one thing a lot of gearphiles would love to explore: the influence of the equipment you have. Early on in one's career not having everything at your disposal can aid your style. I for instance only worked with a 24-85mm lens for a long time! Your limitations make you creatively look at other means. The lack of a Pro7IIB pack made me look at off-camera flashes (long before emerged), and also hard reflectors. These are just small examples, there are loads more. Today I have loads more equipment (with loads I still need to buy!), but some of those things I learned has stayed with me, and I haven't stopped using. There is a line from a cheesy 80's ninja movie that goes something like this: "Rule of the Ninja: The environment is your friend" alluding to the fact that if you look around, you'll find an answer to your predicament. In this vain of thinking I discovered some great tools:I still think slightly warm/cream coloured walls are the best portrait softboxes around, bean bag weights are unnecessary when you have all your penlight batteries in a plastic bag, a 10 guide number flash is great for lifting shadows in an interior, or plonking it in a lamp-shade with a slave if you hate tungsten casts, sub 80mm lenses make great portraits if you approach the subject right, if it's not wide enough then learn to stich, etc etc.

In closing, I've also adapted a way of thinking that allows the subject to guide me (be it a bottle or a person), whereas lots of photographers have success the other way around. Who knows what this thumb-print is. We can go into the laws of Gestalt, the theories of perception and whatnot, but is it something worth considering as an artist? I think so.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I won a Fuji Photo Award!

Hey hey hey! The first year I enter and I win an award! I'm very chuffed, even if it is but a Bronze award, I'm quite happy!

Go to Fuji's site to go and see the image. It's the one of the angry (Theo Crouse of Nude Girls fame) chap staring into the camera.

Aah, let me get back to work.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Rooibos with Catapult

Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to go shoot for Rooibos LTD in the Cederberg around Clanwilliam with the team of Catapult Advertising Studios, particularly the boss, Rene.. Part of the team was video man Neill and Gerda from Rooibos. We spent the first day on the farms around Clanwilliam and at the factory doing industrial photography. The second day was spent shooting out in the mountains, over the Pakhuis-pass, the Biedouw valley and ultimately Wupperthal!

In the picture above we're all sitting down for a cuppa of Rooibos (no less) at the tea-room in Wupperthal, after which we secured some bread from the bakery and generally spent good time in this magical little village (old mission station) in the mountains. We took the way back that afternoon over "zinkplaat" roads that rearranged our chromosomes temporarily whilst entertaining ourselves with a brand of dry humour best reserved for lonely places. One very funny (probaby you-had-to-be-there)comment made by Neill went the way of: "I want to die the way my grandfather did, in my sleep...,while everybody else in the car screamed their heads off."

Aah, well, a great time in the bundus, a great time creatively as well. Oh, and next time you're in the mountains, see if you can stop ANYWHERE without seeing a discarded Black Label can or bottle.

Fill up the studio with STUFF

So, what to do when your studio is 54sq/m big but you need to store about 30000000 cubic tons of produts? Well, you just do what you do when you put a elephant in a matchbox, you take the matches out.

For Svenmill fabrics, earlier this year, this became necessary. For their marketing material, we needed to shoot upholstered sofas, enormous lampshades (they were hung from the ceiling), scatter cusions galore, railings with swatches, sample books etc etc etc....oh, and 4 women. The designers/stylists/clients made up the rest. "Could you put up a curtain railing on your curve?", "Could you screw this into the ceiling", "Could you carrry the sofa there" etc etc. It felt like I was moving house, but it was fun. See, making do is often the way to great thinking, creative problem solving etc etc. I also realised most people don't know how big 54sq m is.

Thanx guys for making do!

Friday, August 31, 2007

The National Braai Day Shoot

So how long does it take to create a national flag out of BRAAIVLEIS, WORS AND PAP???

Well, a meeting of planning, sourcing product, sourcing a prep-stylist, quoting, getting it accepted, styling and shooting..... Latter 1 full day!!

What to do with the food afters? Well, you eat half of it during the shoot, then divide the spoils and also give to those who are needy.

What does the photographer do while they style? Make coffee, fiddle here and there and wait.

Adriaan du Toit of Q-Bit, Jean Nel (Foodie) and Moi spent that time doing this shot for a campaign of the most noble intentions: Getting people to braai. Remember 24 Sept 2007 is National Braai Day, so you'd better be braaing.

Look at for this poster at your local Pick n Pay store soon!

Trying to tell you more about what happens at shoots

A lot of people aren't totally aware of what goes on at a shoot, and how it all works. This is understandable, as not a lot of people actually ever get to go on one. So I thought I'd start a serious of posts on different shoots I've done in the past with pics (Still figuring out how to upload any!). Hold your breath so long!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Sitting in a coffeeshop

How much work gets done in a coffeeshop? I retouched Desidarius Pongracz sparkling wine images, did RAW conversions on a prosthesis shoot, checked emails, did banking and wrote a delivery note, all the while having Hindu Chai tea and a banana muffin.

I think coffeeshops are the best kept secret in truly effective people's lives. You get your fix, look professional, do work, and manage not to feel alone and cut off from civilization as I do at times working alone in my studio. It's just a shame about the music sometimes. At the moment I'm exposed to a form of house-music that could've stayed at home.

I also read in coffeeshops. I've often done studies in a coffeeshop. A coffeeshop is a place of meeting, working, eating and drinking. I like coffeeshops.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Danie, why don't you shoot fashion/girls in bikinis/erotic/chicks?

Any client who has ever asked me to shoot any of the above might've encountered some resistance from me in the form of uncomfortable wigglings, to mmm, not sure if I can, to straight out 'no way Jose''s. Many people assume because you're a photographer, you're in the profession for the same reason as David Bailey who said: "[Fashion] photography gives me what I love most: women, money and photography," or something along those lines. Often I get a wink with a line that goes something like this: 'So you must see some nice honeys, hey?' Apart from the fact that its a bit juvenile, I suppose I can understand the stereotype. However, I thought I'd let you know why I don't, by preference, shoot fashion (ladies), girls in bikinis and the like.In order of importance my priorities are laid out like this:
My faith in God and Christian conviction.
My marriage
My child and family And somewhere after that, you'll find my career, which by the way, is very important to me.As a Christian husband, I don't see how shooting scantily clad girls will improve my testimony to others regarding the Christian viewpoint on women, modesty, marriage, lust etc. Guys generally just assume that if you shoot them, you're probably checking out the menu as well. (Funny that the same people that assume you do this, are the same one who'll say you mustn't be square about it.) Important - I don't see it as a sin to shoot these, I just don't think it beneficial to my Christian testimony, marriage, parenting or mindset. As a Christian I need to keep the highest standards for my mind, thoughts and inclinations. Though I don't by nature walk around lusting, 'perving' or eye-ing women, putting myself in situations that I might tempted to look lustfully at women is contrary to the teachings of Christ, who explains it as adultery in your heart (Matt 5:27-30). Liberal religious arguments tries to find ways around this, but clear Scriptural teaching abound. I choose to follow these, and can see the fruit of it in my life. That by in large is my view on it. Erotic imagery, nudity and imagery portraying and promoting violence, racism, hatred etc, is obviously on my not-to-do list. I have to ask myself as well what my baby-daughter will say when she is 18 one day, seeing her dad shooting 18 year old friends of hers in suggestive settings etc. Again, if your family value does not hold to Christian (Biblical) standard in this regard, it might seem strange to you. However, to me, it makes sense.