New Blog Address

 

 

***NEW BLOG ADDRESS***

 

Hello! thanks for visiting. My blog has moved to a different address. Find me at :

http://cargocollective.com/mapodile

 

**NEW BLOG ADDRESS***

Rainy Goodbyes

Upload from June 20, 2012

I love waking up to the sound of rain, opening my eyes and seeing water trickling down the window in intricate patterns. A rainy day in Cape Town is Bob Marley on a Sunday morning, it’s warm pancakes with ice cream and rooiboos tea. Cape Town is one of the hardest cities to leave. The energy, the people,and the pure beauty of the Mother City is hypnotic. What I truly love about this city is that it’s surrounded by, what seems like, an infinite number of small towns only a few hundred kilometres in every direction. Before leaving for Europe, I had to marinate myself in the beauty of the Western Cape. I visited Montagu, 211km from Cape Town to quench my thirst for the magic of nature, fire, camping and the outdoors. The road to this little haven was like driving in a water slide and these photographs are splashes and bits of my last weekend under the spell of the mountains.Upload from June 20, 2012Upload from June 20, 2012

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Destination Denmark

I remember the first day of this year. I was at a backpackers in the middle of the Drakensburg, South Africa, wandering with the full extent of my curiosity what adventures awaited me in the next 365 days. Two months earlier I had applied for a photography bootcamp hosted by Yuri Arcurs, A Danish Photographer and the number one stock photographer in the world. I had recieved confirmation that my application was successful and that I would take part in the two week bootcamp and try my luck at earning an all expenses paid, 3 year commercial photography education. On the first of January 2012 I was watching the first sunsrise of the new year, completely unaware that my life was about to change forever.  That for the next three years, I would be watching the sun rise from different parts all over the world. 

Through the gracious gift of the universe I survived the bootcamp and am now a part of the Yuri Arcurs photography family. We’ve been busy shooting like maniacs with an assignment almost every week. It blows my mind to think that before this whole ride, I had never directed a model or worked in a profeessional studio. My idea of good lighting was the sun and editing was a simple matter of a contrast layer in Photoshop. Its four months in and already I’ve had more shoots than I can count; shooting everything from Sexy men to Genius Kids. We’ve also had a series of exams that have tested not only our knowledge, but our will and desire to be the best and nerdiest photographers possible. I must admit that at times it was like being in a boxing ring, out for the count and leaning on the ropes; but after getting your ass kicked for long enough you start to fight back and realise how much strength lies in your dream. 

The photographs in this post are some of my favourites (so far) and just a slight glimpse of the evolution of my photography over the past few months. The shoots have been crazy but mostly filled with an anxious determination to surpass my comfort zones and my skill level. In the next two weeks, my new found family and I will be embarking on a trip to Denmark for three months. Follow me on my travels and into the depths of what I love so much.

 My first full day shoot in the studio.

 

Upload from May 29, 2012

This assignment was about endurance and creativity. We had to see what its like to be on our feet for 8 hours, while keeping the momentum and spirit of the shoot, the producer and the model. Having to tell a beautiful and experienced model what to do and how to do it was extremely intimidating at first!  But after a couple of hours and a little help from my friend Jimi Hendrix, the 8 hours started to feel like minutes and before i knew it, I had devoured the  first taste of the professional pie. I love looking back at this shoot because I learnt so much in terms of lighting and model direction. I also learnt that the studio is my playground, filled with infinite possiblities!

My first male model!

Upload from May 29, 2012

One fine Monday morning, Yuri walks into the office with a mischievous smile on his face and says: “Girls! this week you’ll be shooting sexy men!”. As you can imagine, this statement was followed by a chorus of shrieks, gasps and heart palpatations. After all the ladies had fanned themselves and caught our breathes, we sat down to look at our brief. The first question that came to my mind was “What is sexy?”. For me, its all about subtlety. Its about the nuances, gestures and body language of a man that send a trickle of sweat running down my back. When it came to the day of the shoot, I was a ball of nerves! This was my first time shooting a male model and I was honestly afraid that his hotness would fog up my eyes and render me completely useless. Thankfully when I arrived on set, the shy girl gave way to the proffesional photographer with a job at hand. I love the photographs from this shoot because I made a personal breakthrough…as it turns out, beautiful people are people too! :) 

Shooting with a 2 year old

Upload from May 29, 2012

I’m sure you’ve heard crazy tales of models and their superb egos. None of those stories compare to the very specific needs of a gorgeous two year old, with the cutest face I’ve ever seen and the loudest scream I’ve ever heard. Working with babies is considered to be the toughest job in photography. They move off their mark, they throw random objects at you and if dont charm them from the begining, the whole shoot is at risk. Luckily for me, I had an artilary of Finding Nemo toys and McDonalds fries to win over this adorable future super model. This shoot was tricky and had me dancing around like Barney at parts, but i was so grateful for it because a good photography needs to learn how to cultivate their patience. This shoot was also part of my final exam, where I had to capture the essence of a Super Talented Kid. This is the shoot that gaurenteed me a plane ticket to Denmark and a solid place in the army of Yuri Arcurs Photographers.

Beach Portraits

I moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town 4 months ago, exactly 116 days ago.  The day I moved I only had one thought…”yes”. Yes, yes, yes, yes. The yes train takes you anywhere you want to go, all you have to do is buy a ticket.  So the first ticket I bought was to the beach.

There are as many beaches in Cape Town as there are personalities.  You get Clifton 4th beach, which is like the popular boy in school; plenty of fun but always surrounded by too many people. Then there are beaches like the ones in Muizenburg and Kalk Bay. They resemble that quirky red haired girl named Wendi (with an “I”), whose mysterious air attracts the kind of people who listen to bands that no one else has heard of.   When choosing a beach in Cape Town, it all boils down to the tenor and mood of the day.

Coming from a land locked city, the concept of a body of water is so far out that its right next to the ideas of mermaids and talking fish. Every time I’m near the ocean, I’m mesmerized by the tension of the waves. How the push and pull of energy builds up and then breaks. I think that people gravitate towards it to ease that tension within themselves. The people that I photographed were not at the beach to be seen.  Just like me, they were looking for the kind of release that only a brooding sea of water could give the spirit.

Normally I’m very weary about taking my camera to the beach. The sand has a thing for my camera and it’s hard for me to keep them apart.  When I took these photographs I don’t really know what I was expecting, but I knew that I didn’t want to shoot typical sun kissed beach photographs. I guess, every time I take a photograph, I hope to go beyond any preconceptions.  Its been quite a while since I shot just portraits. I’ve really missed photographing people and how they simultaneously interact with and react to their environment.

I went to the sea and this is what I saw.


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Rocking The Daisies

Somewhere between right and wrong is a field of Daisies. I’ll meet you there.”

Have you ever heard of a successful case of auto erotic asphyxiation? I hadn’t until Rocking the Daisies. Okay maybe less erotic, and more finding it hard to breathe strictly from pure undiluted excitement. The weekend of the 8th and 9th of October teleported me into a world beyond the clouds where the land was green, the music was air and the only currency was bliss.

The magic of music festivals lies in the plethora of differently flavoured  human beings. At one point, I remember thinking that everyone I saw was beautiful. Every single person was radiant, with an elated nonchalance that glistened like a disco ball reacting to light. Its this common ability to illuminate , both ourselves and others, that always draws me in.

A couple of weeks ago I bought my first tent, and ever since I’ve become an avid camper (And by “avid” I mean, sometimes I’ll pitch it in my apartment and spend the night in it). I absolutely love the idea of a massive community of people leaving their elaborate cement lives to occupy a square metre of space. There is something incredibly organic and uplifting about lying on your back and feeling the ground reverberate underneath your bones.

There are very few occasions when I’m having such an epic time that I almost forget that I have a camera. More often than not, I get so caught up in my photography that I ‘look’ and capture the fun being had by others. But not at Daisies. To tell you the truth, I was bouncing of the walls so much that I’m pleasantly surprised that some of these photos are keepers.

When you look at these photographs I hope you see the utter gaiety of the photographer who took them.

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The Green House

I  came across the green house while shooting a story about a  group of friends who get together after school to dance. Not long after whipping out my camera, I felt a mischievous energy behind me being carried by a bubble of nervous, yet curious giggles.  I turned my back to find a huddle of little humans completely enchanted by the digital ninja in my hand. Surely enough, we gravitated towards each other like the raw elements of a chemical reaction.

I don’t know anything about them beyond the fifteen minutes that we spent dancing around each other. Even though our encounter was brief, I feel that each one animated in a way true to their personality. I left feeling as though I had captured a little of their magic. I find that body language is the best way to communicate in photography, especially with children…the most honest people in front of a camera.  They give you all they have in the single click of a shutter.

What I love  most about these photographs is the interplay of solid colours. The reds and blues set against the backdrop of a deliciously coloured wall.  This green is such a radiant explosion of life! It made so much sense that these children lived here.

Upload from September 28, 2011

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Orange Vendors

One of the things that I miss shooting  are photo-stories. The opportunity to completely immerse myself in someone’s life for a period of time, so that my shooting begins to align with my subject’s own perspective of life. The two views merge, as you become fellow travelers looking through the same field of focus. Of course, with any type of medium of representation, you can never truly leave all your biases at the door. But just having awareness of this is enough.

Its surreal seeing something from the outside, appearing so ordinary and commonplace, then diving head first into its deep pool of actuality. The ins and outs of day to day happenings that transpire all the time - not just in the two weeks that you are watching. On this particular story, I spent two weeks with Orange Vendors from Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape. This is the story of Xoli Majenge and the orange stand that he shares with Vuyani Chaza.

The first encounter with people I’d like to do a story on, is always slightly tense. Its perfectly understandable how our eyes meet and send subliminal darts of mutual distrust. If the wind blew a stranger into town with an obnoxious camera, inquisitive eyes and ramshackle Xhosa, I would also have trust issues.  By and by, time morphed the tension into a  piqued tolerance of my presence until I become Invisible. Until I lost my form and became a phantom observer. Conversely, they lost their form as well. If you look at the photographs, you’ll see that I gravitated strongly towards their hands. When it comes to people, their hands more than anything else, hold the narrative to their lives. Every aspect of what we do and who we are, lies with our hands.

Xoli has been selling oranges for the latter 21 years of his life, while Vuyani only just recently joined him at the stand a year ago. He is 49 years old and has carried out his life with despondent remiss. Vuyani is 30 years his junior and has dreams of leaving Fort Beaufort to become a journalist in Johannesburg.  The two of them get along like a gangly alley cat and ice old water. Xoli has been working the stand longer than Vuyani has been alive and yet they earn exactly the same amount of money. The neglect of his seniority burns the coals of his animosity toward his younger, but equal partner. The furnace of Xoli’s dejected heart brings a soft sadness to his otherwise hard face.

They both work from 7am until 5pm for an orange farmer who supplies the oranges and gets 80% of the daily profits.  The two men tending the stand then have to split the remaining 20% down the middle. All day, they sit in the sun, run up and down trying to catch the attention of fleeting cars, for R30 a day. Life as an orange vendor is tedious. They spend 10 hours, seven days a week, packing and selling oranges. They eat orange after orange, almost as though, only to keep their hands and hearts busy from surrender to their inequitable lives.

The orange season is short. And with its end, comes the end of the men’s employment.  Vuyani busies himself with school work and friends during the day, while at night, he prays for deliverance from the only town he has ever known. Lacking the will to find some other way of employment, Xoli depends on his reluctant girlfriend to support him during the rainy months of his inertia. He sits, waits and nothing happens. After all,  “It’s waiting for nothing that kills a mans soul”.

Photo stories are always difficult  more towards the end. You bombard someone’s life, document it and then leave. Never really knowing what comes of them. As a journalist we borrow peoples lives, and are forever osmotically changed.

Everytime I eat an orange, I think about my time in Fort Beaufort.

 

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it is waiting for nothing that kills a mans soul” - Gregory David Roberts

Upload from September 14, 2011

 

 

 

 

The National Arts Festival

I’ve tried to write up this post about five times. If I were writing on paper, there’d be an avalanche of tangent thoughts cascading my bin.  I wasn’t even going to put up this post but then; I had a glass of wine, stumbled to the after party of my pity party, and decided that I was being slightly neurotic.

 Over the last few months my camera has become my right arm, learning with cunning ease, the art of following me better than my shadow. Recently I’ve been feeling a profound disconnect with my Lulu.  I have no idea why, but timidity has found its way to the banks of my creativity.  I can only describe it as a totally irrational emotional block that I experienced while I was at the Arts Festival.

Before I go anywhere, I always imagine how I’m going to shoot it. I guess this is the very root of my problem; living in the future in a projected state of mind. I get super excited, to the point were it morphs into mild anxiety.  Since I had been to Fest in the past, I figured I could schematically map all the possibilities of things to photograph. I got to Grahamstown and a very peculiar and unwelcome impotency struck me. The very will to take photos escaped my body like a silent, but volatile fart.  And that’s exactly how I felt..like a fart.

I guess I had assumed that I could slip right into the soft cushion that had molded around me for the past four years. But being back for the first time, no longer a Rhodes student, my orientation was  off. Grahamstown was no longer my home. Too much time had passed, and like estranged lovers, me and my former haven no longer recognized each other. Truthfully, I found the place quite bizarre, with its wacko weather and unusual dimming of my resolve to take photographs.  So I surrendered to this emotion. I put my hands in the air and docked my ship at the harbor of unknowing…the harbor were losers go to die.

I like these photos, but my emotional attachment to them is similar to that of a mother and her red headed stepchild. On a different note to my previous posts, they sit on the periphery of my affections.  I’m not connected with them, because when I took them I wasn’t connected with myself.  My mood and my style of shooting always align. If you pay attention to my angles and subject matter, these photos really portray every single inkling of my limbo. So when I did take photos, I didn’t really feel like it. I was so into this grimy funk that I indulged in passive aggressive photography. In a strange way that has it’s own beauty…the sense of dosconnection. The moment you realise that your fragile, that your human and that you have levels. Up down. up down. up down.

It’s weird how I attach feelings to my work, my art. A photograph is a sponge. Soaking up all the raw materials of potential magic. So when I don’t synthesis that energy, when I don’t have that intimacy with my camera, I feel like an amputee.  I was way too in my head; consumed with my discomfort and disabled by this foreign crack in my armor.

Those close to me know that I’m always beating myself up about my photography, being my biggest critic. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. It’s probably equally good and bad.  But the amazing lesson in feeling crappy is that, that same energy pushes you to slay the dragon of  future dissatisfaction.

You are very brave in reading this rant; you will be rewarded with a gold star in my heart. Just know that it was very necessary for me to reveal my not-so-perky side. To put into words, for myself, why I feel like a 13year boy with a cracked voice and pimples on my back. With blocks, the only way out is THROUGH. This has been good in bringing my mind to a stillness that will allow my photography to flourish independently from my human insecurities.

Freeing myself, from myself, is the ultimate point.

BLK SONSHINE

Upload from July 25, 2011

CINEMA

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VUSI MAHLASELA

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MR. CAT AND THE JACKEL

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Cant remember where i took this…but this is my favourite.

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CAFE BLANCA (I will never call it Groto Mojito)

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STASH THE SUITCASE COLLECTIVE

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UNDOING

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FACECONTROL MOTHERSHIP

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wish i knew who this was…?

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Raytheon

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Alleyway Mural

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Invisible Cities: Part One

If you were to tell people to congregate on a roof top, the day before work, in the freezing  cold, I bet  the answer would be a resounding “hell to the no!” But if you were to add that its Invisible Cities part 1, featuring The Frown and The Brother Moves On, suddenly you have 200+ people queuing like housewives at a sale, to get in the door. Okay so you had to climb, what seemed to be, an infinite number of stairs to get to the top. And yes it was the kind of cold that marinated in your marrow, but it was worth it to be involved in this kind of project. Even as just a witness.

Invisible Cities Part 1 is the first installment in a series of 12 events that will take place every month throughout the year.  It’s a collaboration of music and art set against the backdrop of barren buildings and desolate spaces that are soon to be redesigned as part of the Maboneng  Arts Precinct family. I think it’s a brilliant idea hosting this kind of event in places that are in a state of flux. People get to experience a space before it has a purpose,  and before it has a name. This really mirrors the transitory state of the city, where the notion of categorization is quickly falling away.

Johannesburg is a synthesis of cultural evolution where possibility is the key theme. We are all catalysts; reacting, changing, and adapting with the progression of Art in this beautiful city. This is exactly the idea behind the festival; that the prospect of change is entirely dependent on imagination. The “city” exists beyond its concrete manifestation and enters into a liminal headspace, where the power to transform it lies in the minds of the creatively unapologetic. The Frown and The Brother Moves On were chosen for Invisible Cities because their music dares you to question, what is and what will be.

Like the cityscape, music and performance art fuse in bold and unconventional ways that provide new textures and patchworks with which to build the Johannesburg that we want to have, and are entirely free to have. Visibility is perception. Invisibility is the power to move away from what you see and letting the wave of the creative process carry you to unforeseen destinations.

Based on the first event, I cannot wait to see the dynamism with which this project is surely to expand. 

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Splashy Fen Music Festival

Splashy Fen is the birth child of a couple with an insatiable taste for music; who eleven years ago, had the brilliant idea of transforming their enormous farm in the Underburg (Southern Drakensburg) into a beautifully well organized meeting of live music, art and kindred spirits.

I’ve always wanted to go to a music festival. I remember being a sixteen year old quasi-hipster searching for signifiers of my essence and in my montage of dreams, music festivals were always prominent. I used to fantasize about being in massive crowds, rocking out as a collective energy with the sludge of mud underneath my Wellingtons.   I think I’ve always known my need to be surrounded my unfamiliarity. I cant wrap my head around how many different flavours of human beings exist! In my perfect world, I’d meet them all.

My last post was about interpersonal space, but with this one I was being invited into people’s personal spaces. With these photographs it was all about the people. What I absolutely adored was the profound sense of camaraderie in the air. The campsites were a neutral zone where everything, but the present moment ,fell away. There was such a willingness on everyone’s part to make it a mutually friendly environment. Random conversations and interactions with people that my usual social life wouldn’t extend the opportunity of meeting. Really, just pure magnetism.

This is more than just a music festival, its an all round outdoor adventure. I was so excited to sleep in a tent. I havnt been camping in almost five years, but I quickly remembered that hygiene was for the weak! There was a peculiar comfort that I found in being dirty.  Unwashed and completely raw, almost like the  experience I’d been having was stuck in my pores. There’s this sense of primal humanness that you feel when you’re out there in the elements like that. Nothing gives one more perspective than falling asleep to the lullaby of live music and waking up to a breathtaking view of the mountains with the smell of camp fire all around you.

The bands that performed this year were out of this world. its crazy to think how much talent this country has! I’ll admit that I didn’t know at least half of the live acts before the festival, but I left as a fan…a groupie even. Some of the folks that blessed my ears were Steve Newman, The Rudimentals, Goodluck, Fruit and Veggies and tons more.

I  also really enjoyed the journey to the Festival. I love road trips! Everything about them from the fuel stops, the unhealthy treats, the  old school music, but most importantly what I see out the window. Some of these journey photographs are among my favorites that I’ve ever taken. This festival opened my eyes to the importance of packing a bag, donning your walking shoes and getting out of the city.

I am so thrilled that this is the beginning of an annual tradition

 

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Live Performances

The Rudimentals 

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Goodluck 

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Boo! 

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