Skip to main content

Perks of being a photographer

© Danienel (Help)

In the past (I've been a pro photog for almost 10 years, starting at age 21), when people would say "Wow, it must be a cool job!", even though they imagined me standing taking pics at kiddies parties (commercial photographer doesn't say a heck of a lot to Joe Bogs), I would reply with a "Yah, well, it's not ALL glam, it's got a lot of hard graft and tough aspects as well", which isn't untrue, but I said it because I didn't want people to think I had it easy, and they hard (I grew up Calvinist and South AFrican...white...guilt is sort of built into default set-up). However, one day I came to the realization that I made the choice to do what I do when I was 12, pursued it since then and worked very hard to get where I am, and on any given day still earn the same or less than they do, BUT I have perks. And I love my job. I love the exposure. I love the business side. I love the hard times. I love the carrying equipment as well! I love sweeping the studio floor. I love having coffee with my assistant at weird and wonderful locations.

Here are some questions I get asked and I will answer now:

© Danienel (Help)

FOOD SHOOTS: YES, I always taste the food. Inedible food-styling is left for the TV guys, Us stills guy respect good food and what you see is what I eat. I have had Micehelin 3-star chefs (Giorgio Nava) have me eat at his kitchen counter. I have had from 1 star to 5 star. The above pick is Springbok (SA Gazelle) game from Savoy Cabbage. I have had the Cafe Royal Fat Bastard Burger in Cape Town Long Street, I have sampled 99% of the dishes in a Touch of Rooibos that I shot. Yes, I eat the food.

© Danienel (Help)

WINE: Yes, often times wineries are nice enough to give me a couple of bottles of the best. Currently I have a bottle of Waterford The Jem, Jean Daneel Director's Bin Chenin Blanc 2006, Graham Beck 1994 (2006 Degorge) MCC Brut MAGNUM (Nelson Mandela drank this when he became president in 1994), some fine wines from Iona, Rijks, and various other top notch SA wineries. I also have photographed the 1791 Vin de Constance at Klein Constantia, the very wine Napolean Bonaparte drank while in exile on St Helena, and Charles Dickens writes about in one of his novels.

CARS: No, I don't often drive the cars myself, but I always get to ride IN them. However, I have driven the Audi R8 V10 on a road outside Elgin, South Africa. Wow. Wow. Wow. See the video here: http://danienel.blogspot.com/2009/08/i-drive-audi-r8-v10.html .I have driven in the Aston Martin DBS V12 (see www.wielmag.co.za for the video I shot on a cell phone in the car while the driver did his thing). I have driven in the Nissan GT-R. Around a race-track. I have driven in more insanely expensive cars than I can recount. The irony? I'm not really a car enthusiast, I just love the look of cars. Once you get under the bonnet, I'm a bit at a loss. I desire not to have one of those cars, which is a blessing, cuz I can simply enjoy them as works of art. I drive a Toyota Panelwagon and a Chev. I love my cars. Functional. Logical.

PEOPLE: I have photographed NElson Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, in their Cape Town home. I have shot Faithless live, from the orchestra pit with Maxi Jazz almost stepping on my hand, I have shot Live Live, I have shot Ronan Keating live, I have photographer more CEO's than I care to remember, I have shot sport stars (Francois Pienaar, now played by Matt Damon in Long Walk to Freedom), Graeme Smith, Herchelle Gibbs, Marc Fish, Dingaan Tobela and many more. I have photographed writers journalists, thinkers, wise men and great woman, weird and wonderful people. Rich and unfamous, Poor and famous and a bit of both. I love shooting people.

HOTELS AND PLACES: I've slept in hotels that I'll never be able to afford, take my wife to hotels because of my job I'd never be able to do. I've seen amazing restaurants and places. My stay in Bushman's Kloof resort would've cost me my company's turnover for a month. I'm going, God willing, to Libya in November to shoot for Air Afrique.

I can go on and on. I shoot pack shots in studio - I like it. I enjoy the mundane parts of shooting. I shoot events still - I take a booking if I have the time - their money is as good as any other money - I hate idleness.

Are their bits that's tough about my job? Obviously. The creative industry is in my opinion other than full-time ministry the hardest place to make a living. But I CHOSE to. I put my head down and still take the knocks with the blessings.

I'm grateful to God I can be a photographer.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Dangerous Photography Jobs

http://www.onlinecertificateprograms.org/blog/2010/10-dangerous-photography-jobs/This is taken from the above article, with permission:Photography can be a case of life or death. It may sound absurd, but professional photographers often go to great lengths and compromise their safety in order to get the perfect picture. Whether it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to photograph Mount Everest or a mission to cover the Iraq war, many photographers risk their lives just to do their job. Here are 10 dangerous photography jobs: Extreme Weather Photography
Extreme weather photographers aren’t storm chasers, but they do have an eye for photographing hurricanes, tornados, thunderstorms and other severe weather in their most vulnerable state. As you can imagine, this job is nothing short of extreme. Extreme weather photographers have to get close to the storm when everyone else is running from it, which puts them at risk for injuries and often death. BASE Jumping & Skydiving Photography
See…

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…

Wiel - Hummer 3 - Hennie Bosman

When I was asked to shoot Shihan Hennie Bosman (highest qualified karateka outside of Japan in Kyokushin Karate, 8th Dan) and the Hummer 3 for a short feature, with no brief, except a location, I knew it was going to be interesting. I was basically told to do something action-orientated (Hennie has done stunt-work with the likes of Wesley Snipes and JC van Damme), and just go to x location and get back with pics ASAP.

With no budget for Propak 7IIB's, and the shoot being set-up for midday, I turned to my trusty polariser to get the mood and went ahead to just play with a very willing Hennie. Brett Hamilton, who wrote the feature, tagged along to hold a reflector, and to represent the mag and make sure I don't totally go wild. (He is a really able reflector holder and has earned the title of Le Gaffer)

After making Hennie do kicks from the bonnet of the car, jumping on the roof, awarding it a black-belt (I know...), screaming, making faces, driving the car through mud and having …