Friday, December 23, 2011

Images of a nation under threat.

December 16 is considered, by many Afrikaners, their most holy day.
It commemorates the December 16, Battle of Blood River in 1838 when they believe God gave them an unlikely victory against thousands of Zulu warriors.
Each year, thousands of Afrikaners gather at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria to celebrate and remember that day and reaffirm their culture values and beliefs.

New Blood River

In many ways they are once again engaged in a 'new battle of Blood River' as whites - and in particular Afrikaners - are increasingly marginalised and denied opportunities in South Africa.
When I shot these pictures a week ago, it was obvious to me that Afrikaners feel they are a nation under threat that needs to stand together to protect their culture.
But somehow this year's event was different to those I have previously witnessed. Gone was the bravado and arrogance that previously characterised such "saamtrekke". They appeared resigned to their future - or maybe they are just battle-weary.

Shaft of Sunlight

The monument is designed in such a way that every year, only on December 16, a shaft of sunlight moves up the steps of the cenotaph and is centered on it at precisely midday.
I sincerely hope I was not photographing a disappearing nation.
The images were shot with a Nikon F3 film camera on Fuji Neopan 400 and developed in a local version of ID-11.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How to choose a wedding photographer.

The business of wedding photography has changed dramatically over the past few years. The advent of high-quality digital cameras has seen many "Uncle Bobs" and "Aunt Sheilas," with absolutely no photographic experience or expertise, buy a camera, print up a business card and proclaim he or she is now a professional photographer.
And while it is true sticking the camera on idiot "auto" mode can sometimes produce passable images, think carefully about entrusting your precious, once-in-a-lifetime memories to such a person.
When choosing your wedding photographer the most important question to ask is: Will the photographer be able to capture the wedding day the way the bride and groom want? Will he or she create unique and emotional memories that you will cherish the rest of your life?
Once you've decided to get married and have chosen your wedding date, waste no time in searching for your photographer. You'll be blind sided to discover the better ones are booked heavily into the future, often over a year out so time is of the essence.

Film or digital?

Few photographers shoot film nowadays and today's professional digital cameras are capable of producing astoundingly good images and enlargements. But if you want something particularly special, ask the photographer to do some shots on medium format film. I shoot many portraits with some of the world's finest medium format film-cameras and the results more than justify the added effort!


There is no doubt, the skills and ability of the person behind the camera are far more important than the equipment itself. That said however, you want to be sure your photographer has high-quality kit as well as back-up equipment should the primary camera, lens or flash fail -- and they sometimes do! Pros will ALWAYS have back-up units. Ask the photographer what sort of lighting equipment he or she will use and if an assistant will be present.

A new trend in wedding photography.

The hottest trend in wedding photography today is the Photojournalistic Wedding. Photojournalism shots are more animated, and might show the bride and her bridesmaids running into the church in the rain, or the groomsmen playing around outside, or guests having a wild time at the reception. Photos are produced in both colour and black and white but b&w is becoming increasingly popular. In a photojournalistic wedding the aim is to tell your story.
If this is how you want your wedding photographed then it is obvious you should hire someone who has experience in photojournalism or press photography. He or she may or may not have photographed weddings before but will understand how to tell a story, capture decisive moments and work under pressure and, in addition, will have taken thousands of pictures with their equipment in all manner of challenging and difficult conditions. That is the sort of person you want to photograph your wedding!

Some questions to ask the photographer:

  • Have you shot a wedding at my location before?
  • Do you have an assistant?
  • Do you have backup equipment and is it the same quality as the primary equipment?
  • What time will you begin and how long will you stay until?
  • When will the proofs be ready?
  • Do we get to keep the proofs?
  • Do you mark your proofs?
  • Where and how are your proofs marked?
  • How much extra for unmarked proofs?
  • What lighting equipment will you use?
  • Do you have tele-photo and wide-angle lenses?
  • Do you work well with the other vendors? i.e.: coordinators, caterers, videographers.
  • Can you work from a photo checklist that we create?
  • How will you be dressed?

Final points:

Make sure the photographer you interview will be the photographer who actually photographs your wedding. Read and understand the contract carefully. Spend the most you can afford on your wedding photographs -- the expensive food at the wedding will quickly be forgotten but the photographs will live for generations.

For more information on wedding and portrait photography visit my site:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The plastic-fantastic, Holga!

One of the problems with photography today -- and it's been caused by increasingly sophisticated digital cameras -- is that all images, irrespective of the subject being photographed, somehowlook the same.
The truth is, today's digital cameras are so advanced that most pictures are perfectly focussed, well lit and have accurate colours recorded. They are perfect, in a sterile sort of way.
The situation is even worse when it comes to press photography. The pic-men (or women) are herded together and confined in a specific area. All are armed with similar cameras (the brands don't matter), have similar lenses, similar flash set ups and, as a result, they get similar pictures.
I am more than ever convinced the days of professional photographers are numbered, a fact yet again brought home to me when a friend (ironically at a recent photographic exhibition and in poor light) took a picture with her iPhone. The quality was astounding! Photography is becoming so easy that there are fewer and fewer reasons to hire a pro.
In the light of that I decided to mess around with a Holga, a cheap, Chinese, plastic, toy camera fitted with a plastic lens. With the Holga it's all about compostion and creativity. You never know what you are going to get and no two cameras are the same. The only control, I believe, comes in the darkroom.
I am well-please with my initial efforts!

You can view the full series at
To purchase images please email me for prices and sizes.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Moment critique!

I am always amused when new digital photographers and photojournalists talk about the newest, latest, all-singing, all-dancing digital camera able to churn out six to 10 frames per second.
I find it even funnier when they tell me how it's impossible to shoot sport -- or much anything else -- without a camera that can fire off photographs faster than a machine gun.
They seem to forget many of the world's greatest news photographs were shot using thumb-wound cameras with just a standard, manually-focussed, lens. At the same time, many of the great sports photographs were taken with similarly wound-on cameras fitted with a single-focal-length telephoto lens that also had to be focussed by hand.

How did we do it back then?

So how did we do it in the old days before feaures like autofocus, matrix metering and wizz-bang motordrives were even thought of? And how did we do it when we couldn't check the rear LCD screen to be sure we'd got the picture?
It was, and still is really quite simple. We worked like snipers rather than machine gunners. We anticipated the action, prefocussed or zone focussed, understood exposure and only needed to take a single shot at the critical moment.
To illustrate the point, last Saturday, I took a trip to Mandela Square at Sandton City, armed with a simple Minolta X300s and a 50mm and 28mm lens. There is a large statre of Madiba there that naturally attracts the attention of locals and tourists alike.
I took up a position near by, took a meter-reading off the palm of my hand, gave one more stop of exposure, pre-focussed and waited for magical photographic moments to happen.
Over the course of three hours I got a number of really good shots that captured wonderful vignettes of life in the Square and though I was only about 10 feet away from the action, not one of my subjects even realised the were being photographed. At the moment critique I simply brought the camera to my eye, pressed the shutter and lowered it. No shutter-lag, no whirring autofocus, no grinding motordrive to attract attention -- just a single, clean shot and kill.

Look closely at this image!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Some more cyanotypes

Some more cyanotypes I recently completed in preparation for an upcoming exhibition.
All cyanotypes are available for sale as signed, limited-edition prints and can be shipped anywhere in the world. Each is printed on fine, archival-grade watercolour paper. For prices and details please visit my website