Tuesday, April 28, 2009

At Ronnie's Sex Shop

Now, for those who are not familiar with this institution would frown immediately and then start wondering about the morality of yours truly. For those aware of this institution, but virtue of either visiting it on the R62 between Barrydale and Ladysmith, or reading about it in pretty much anything from Conde Nast Traveler to Getaway to Weg, you probably just smirked. Recently, on my way to a shoot for Wine in Calitzdorp (a nice 850km round-trip plus shoot in a day), I had the oppurtunity to see the place for myself.

Some short history on the weird name and what it is. It's a bar. A very normal, slightly grotty, little pub in the middle of nowhere, just plonked down. Ronnie owns this piece of soil, and decided to open "Ronnie's Shop". His mates, one night after a drunken debate, decided that Ronnie's store would need some marketing impetus, and decided to paint in "sex" on his signage on the building. Well, the skidmarks, and evidences of hasty u-turns on the 500m of tarmac either side of Ronnie's, is proof that in fact, this piece of marketing worked fantastically. Choppers touching down next to it is apparently not uncommon.

It was about 9:30 and I've been on the road more than 3 hours, so I thought stopping there for a quick coffee and ham-tomato-cheese toast would revive me. It did. The smell of Klein-Karoo vegetation, the sound of the cool breeze and surprisingly good coffee set the pace for the rest of my day. On inspecting the bar/pub-area, I met "Not-Ronnie", also known as Hugo (see pics for explanation). I went to the loo where the graffiti on the walls, I must confess, was offensive to my general morality. I really do not need to know that a underage young girl had just been with her best friend's boyfriend etc etc. Then again, the name would draw this type of thing. The rest of the little establishment is quite charming, though. There are clothes and caps everywhere, hanging from the roof, a chess-board, a tv, post-cards and business cards, graffiti and whatnot adorning every nook and cranny. What caught my attention almost immediately was an old, warn, upright piano just gathering dust in the corner. On further enquiry from "Not-Ronnie", I was invited to sit down and jam a bit, which I under false protest was happy to do.  If only I was wearing a waist-coat and a ball-hat, I might as well have been in the Wild West, playing the honky tonk. A kind Gauteng gentlemen relieved me of my camera and proceeded to take some pics of me while I played.

After playing for a short while I considered decent (your own music is much like your own body odour, if you catch my drift) and proceeded to pay for my "to-go" Coke.  A startling R10 later I enquired after Ronnie, who I was informed would be in late because he was sleeping out a hangover. Ok. Though, as I was about to leave Ronnie, an old hippie with a long braid, beard, tie-die Ronnie's T-shirt and scruffy voice entered. I asked if I could take his picture, he complied and I got my Ronnie pic. I confirmed the legend about his mate's actions resulting in what is now one of the hottest spot on the R62 and he said yes, "stranger than fiction".

"Not-Ronnie" (aka Hugo) left, Ronnie (right)

Once outside I snapped a quick couple of shots of the establishment, jumped in my new little panel-wagon (only had it 2 days) and was half-an-hour late for my next appointment. The next appointment understood the circumstance and was glad I had a chance to see this.

Ah. If you can't enjoy the journey, then I don't know what the point of traveling is.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A moment like this

This is a short post about a sweet little moment on my brother's wedding. I was designated MC for the day, and graciously given the day off photography-wise, and I was asked to write and perform a song for them at the ceremony.

Well, I had the verse and chorus, but had to freestyle verses 2 and 3 on the spot (it goes like that sometimes, but since it's an original, nobody knows whether what you're singing is right or not). The song went down well, in fact, so well, that my little daughter who was the flower girl, decided to run up to the pulpit, grab me by the leg (now, I'm "Lank" concentrating on freestylin' some lyrics) and then proceeded to dance in front of the pulpit for a while, before sauntering off-stage back to mom.

Hannes se Troue met Karla Pic: Duane Denton

Well, one thing is for certain, these little kiddies keeps you on your toes. As a photographer you wish for these little moments, as a performer, you appreciate them in hind-sight.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I get around

First off - the assistant position has been filled. After about 60 CV's, 300 hits on my ad at Gumtree and numerous queries, I have appointed a new assistant. He will be revealed 1 May 2009... What I realized is 2-fold: There are youngsters out there with some mad photography skills (I went solo age 21... I know the feeling of apprehension, despite having the skills), and  the market is depressed. It's depressing finding that freelancers who've been eeking it out for 3 to 4 years, suddenly has to start applying for junior positions to pay some bills. To those applicants and individuals I have one word: RESPECT. You're heroes, just keep going. I had to waiter tables in my first year to stay alive. God bless your efforts.

Then just a little post on getting around - some images from my shoots - just self-portraits (often taken as light tests).


Levi's Shoot at Studio. Jeremy behind me.

Me and JP at Wiel Coverhoot, Klipheuwel.

Taking a shot at Bouchard Finlayson, Hermanus

With Jeremy, Nissan Advertorial Shoot for Good Taste, Aquila Game Reserve, Touwsrivier

With Jeremy, Mount Plessir, Tulbach

Creation Wines, Hermanus

Mate's wedding, Bloubergstrand

Rust en Vrede, MyWeek Shoot, Stellensbosch

ITWEB Brainstorm Shoot, Engen Court, Cape Town

Aerial shoot, Hermanus

With guests, Kommetjie Lighthouse, KapEvent Wedding

Testing my Gary Fong Lighsphere, with DIY foil insert. 6:30 am....


So these are just random moments from my work days. I love my job. I love the people, the places, the business, the effort, the everything. Right now I like blogging - as part of work.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bronx Shoes Billboard Shoot

1647 Billboard(CPT) 1647 Billboard(Jozi)

If you're passing Gugulethu Taxi Rank's way, or JHB Taxi Rank, you will notice a 6x9m billboard with a Bronx ad on it. Above is the Gugs one  and the Jozi one.

Now, if you've wondered what goes into shooting something like this, well here goes.


Client: Bronx Shoes

Agency: Traffic Integrated Marketing - www.trafficintegrated.co.za

Photography: Danie Nel Photography - www.danienel.co.za

Post and Design: Bianca at Traffic Integrated Marketing

Model: Bobby Roache - Base Models - www.basemodelagency.com

The concept was of a guy sitting perched somewhere, so one can see a Afro-entric urban landscape in the background, dramatically lit. The product shots of shoes (I shot those later in studio) would then be dropped onto the image along with copy, logo's and catchline. Also, a JHB skyline, shot by another photographer, would be dropped into one of the shots for the JHB billboard.


First you quote and get approval and get that out of the way. Then you go for a recce mission to get a suitable location.

20090212_067 Bianca on recce somewhere in Woodstock. I needed a model to demonstrate the lighting technique. So. As these things go, the locations we chose were not available, and others were sourced later. I saw them first when I arrived on the shoot. No worries, though, we were ready.

20090216_056 Shoot day: 2pm - Make-up finished at Traffic offices. Arrive at location #1. Strand Street Cape Town, roof, 7 storeys to street below. (This will become relevant soon.) Quick set-up, have a Coke, discuss all the nittiy-gritty, sweat (about 35 deg C) in  the sun, talk and test lighting.

20090216_002 While model gets prepped, Jeremy stands in as model for a quick light and flare check. Need some flags for flare. Jeremy gets on it.

20090216_121 Now, what is behind Bobby? A safety net? Some invisible, cleverly hidden safety harnass, mattress, anything? Nope. Just 7 seven stories of cleanish freshish air and a warm north-westerly breeze to keep things interesting. Bobby is a star football player from the States, gone model, so he's brave and gets up onto the 15cm wide wall. Bianca holds his feat down (that'll really help when a 90kg guy starts flailing backwards, but we'd all rather have her do that than regret not trying). Bobby notes that her grip felt like cement bags on his feet as he was getting up. Tests his balance and we're good to go.

20090216_103 Ok, maybe let's stretch a bit.

20090216_128 We get a couple of nice shots here and decide to head for location number 2 in Roeland Street. Volume of fresh air? 18 storeys. Done playing around, we're going Spiderman.

20090216_265 Arrive at location #2: Ok, so 18 storeys to the right (with a 30cm wide ledge, should you decide to fall), a little less wind, and a slightly wider edge, maybe 30cm or so. No harnass, just guts. Someone says something about "chutzpah". I agree. Bobby gets up. At this stage we've made loads of jokes about falling, dying, flying and related matters.  We also note that in the States or Europe, you'd need 715 forms filled out to do this.

20090216_267 Getsy upsy. Solid.We're living this thing. A step to the right and he's dying for it.

20090216_151 We start banging away, getting cool shots, great skylines etc.Remembering always that the shoes are the heroes.

20090216_150 Looking good. Finishing off. But then....

20090216_260 Jeremy (BMX-er, surfer, all-round adrenaline madman) decides he'd like a shot of himself up on the wall before we pack up. As I shoot he jumps up, kicks out Mr Miyagi-style and lands on the other foot. We all but die right there screaming and asking him to come down and then..... wait a minute - why don't you do that again, but this time just jump towards us...?


20090216_261 Jeremy digs, thus Jeremy does. Important to note that while in my service he even dislocated his shoulder in a scooter accident.I ward off some anxious 3rd party law-suit  and COIDA and Department of Labour gets-tough-on-me-thoughts.

20090216_269 Bobby reckons now he's gotta give this a go. We agree. We're sort of forgetting about the whole 18 storeys of fresh-air. We likes what we see. We decide to play around with this idea.

20090216_274 Who's your daddy now? We get some killer pics of Bobby jumping 18 storeys in the air. He's getting really psyched. But alas, we have to start finishing and we're fearing fate by now.

 20090216_255 20090216_257  So here we are - Me, Bobby, Bianca, Johanni (Traffic) and Jeremy. Good fun, good day, good night.

Special thanks to Bobby for his bravery, willing to die for art and all that, Bianca and Traffic Integrated Marketing for great design to wrap my images in, and the location people being cool about us using the sites, public liability insurance and God, for creating a location such as the  Cape.  Oh, and Jeremy for being the mad instigator.