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!