Archive for September, 2014

What do running and photography have in common?

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Now you are wondering why I am posting a photo of a surfer when I am writing a photography blog that is now talking about running. Well stick with me with my roundabout feminine logic.

Life has a rhythm doesn’t it.  Days have a rhythm.  Days of the week being different to the weekend. Days spent on holiday develop a new sweet rhythm all of their own.  My days have a rhythm to them.  I always start my day with yoga.  If I have to I will get up before sunrise to fit this in.  It’s how I roll.  Just very occasionally if I am shooting early, say at sunrise, I might give this a miss.  I start with a cup of green tea (yep, I really like that stuff) and then put on my headphones and spend an hour on my mat easing my body into the day.  I then spend the rest of the day either shooting, editing, uploading to Getty or doing all that other boring stuff that photographers have to do.  For those of you reading this that think photographers spend their entire days behind the camera think again.  Many many hours are spent at our computers doing all the gloriously mundane behind the scenes work which actually makes up the bulk of our lives unless of course you are so successful you have a team of assistants doing all the mundane stuff for you.  Sadly I am not one of them.

Now thankfully my work is quite portable and I will often take my office to a coffee shop and work there just because I can and because I love coffee as much as I love green tea.  Somewhere around mid afternoon I start to get restless and that beautiful afternoon light starts calling me.  This is my favourite time to shoot if I am working on location outdoors but this is also my favourite time to run.

Once again I grab those headphones and head down to the beach.  I am blessed to be able to call this hot and humid part of Africa home.  There is a long promenade at my local beach which is almost exactly 5km long.  I park at one end as I get out of the car and can actually feel a skip in my heart.  I simply love the freedom of running.  The way that for that time I belong only to myself.  I love the place that I go in my mind and how time stops. That I forget everything and exist only in the moment. That I find the rhythm of my soul.  Same thing happens when I get behind my camera.  Same skip of the heart.  Same place I go in my head and that same beautiful feeling of my soul finding its rhythm.

Now if you are not getting any of the above when you have your camera in hand you need to go do something else because when you are in your creative zone this is how it should be.  If the world doesn’t stop for you when you create don’t give up your day job just yet. When you are truly passionate about your art it should make your soul sing, and your heart dance. It should make you feel weightless and it should make you feel free.

When I run the promenade I watch the surfers.  I see the looks on their faces in those moments before they enter the ocean.  I literally see the freedom they feel as they catch a wave.  I know where they are.  I know that their hearts are skipping beats and dancing their own secret dances.   I feel their joy and I know that their souls are finding their rhythm.

Now go and find your sweet spot.  Find the rhythm of your soul because when you do it’s an exquisitely beautiful thing.

 

 

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Loose the ego, roll out the mat and improve your art

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I love yoga.  Not a day goes by when I don’t roll out my mat and hit those poses.  Yoga is a journey. It’s a journey into yourself.  It strips away the layers and moves you into a stillness so quiet can hear your soul whisper.  You will not succeed on this journey if you are holding onto your ego.  It’s a journey about un-becoming who you are at present and becoming who you are meant to be.  It’s about getting the inside right while working on the outside. It’s about being as conscious of where your body isn’t as where your body is.  It’s about being aware, totally aware, in a way you never imagined possible.

When we create we need to loose the ego.  How can we create when there is an ego in the way?  True art comes when the ego is laid down and we move into our quiet place.  When we dig deep and peel away the layers.  There is not room for ego in art.  If you try to create with your ego in place you will fail.  People won’t hear your whisper.  To make people see your art you need to whisper to them, get them to pause a moment and turn their heads.  When they pause and listen, they will see.  You need to give of yourself,  your real self in your art.  If you write, dig deep and find your stillness.  Create from there. If you paint loose the layers and become aware.  If you, like me, take photographs.  Loose the ego.  People will see that ego.  I see it all the time and skim past those photographs so fast I don’t even have time to blink.  If you create from your centre it will whisper so sweetly people will hear, I promise.

Shooting this yoga studio, was for me, such a privilege.  The joy of capturing someone else’s stillness as I too found mine.  Of the quiet breath of the moment and a room devoid of ego.  Of the exquisite soft light of a winters morning.  Of sharing knowledge and learning.  Of watching someone practice their art as I practiced mine.

Loose the ego and lay down the mat because if you do I promise it will take your creativity to a new level.   Get people to turn their heads and pause a moment.  They will hear your whisper.

 

 

 

Who inspires you?

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There is a fellow photographer and writer out there, the other side of the world in fact, that I have never met, and probably never will.  He has however, with his sweet words and humble wisdom inspired me in a way that I find almost impossible to express.

I started out on my photography journey long before I even knew his name and then one day during one of my favourite pastimes of whiling away a few hours in a bookshop I stumbled across one of his books titled ‘Photographically Speaking’. Within hours I was home and had read it from cover to cover and was already in the process of messaging a fellow photographer in London telling him he had to go to the bookshop and buy it immediately.  The author, David DuChemin, had made me feel as if he was talking to me alone and that this had all been written for me in a beautifully crafted, exquisitely secret message that only I would read.

This is not the case of course and I am sure that hundreds of people around the world have read this book and hopefully many of them of been dealt the same card as I was.  I have since followed David’s blog and avidly purchased every one of his books. I have never been disappointed.

His latest offering titled ‘A Beautiful Anarchy’ is, to me, as inspiring, if not more so, as those first words of his that I read so long ago. David has a way of writing that makes you feel as if he is snuggled next to you on the sofa sipping on a mellow red with the soft glow of a dying fire throwing light on his words, which are humble and honest.  They caress the creativity in me and stoke the fire that burns deep in my soul.  He is not afraid of revealing himself in a world that judges all too easily.   I like that he makes me less afraid to do the same.  For lets face it, as creative individuals, it is our fear of being judged that shatters our confidence long before we have allowed our work to see the light of day let alone make it onto the vast ocean of social media.  His invitation to begin living an ‘unapologetically creative life’ is a calling to great to turn down.

He photographic style is not the same as mine, nor is his subject matter.  I enjoy his work but in all honesty it is his deeply honest style of writing that has found its way into my heart.  I envy him his life not because of what he does but because of the way that he does it.  He lives his life as honestly as he writes.  He is fearless in his search and is prepared to sacrifice in order to find, but best of all he is prepared to share it.  Every sweet moment, good and bad, funny or sad.

David I want to thank you for finding your voice for in doing so you are helping me to find mine.

 

On the beach with Ellen

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This is my beautiful eldest daughter Ellen.

She is currently living in Cape Town working the modelling season there.  She is represented by Ice Models in Durban and Cape Town.  The Durban office asked me to take some natural, no make up photos of her for her portfolio.  Now I don’t normally get to shoot Ellen much so this was a rare privilege.

For the months that Ellen was home before her move to Cape Town we would head down to the beach every morning to do our yoga.    I have cherished this time with her. Our quiet mornings watching the sun rise.  So many moments of laughter and joy and an equal amount of moments with tears.  It has been an absolute privilege to have watched her grow and mature during this time into this amazingly self-contained, self-assured beautiful young woman.  Yoga has a way of doing that to people but more on that in another post.  Always beautiful on the outside I have seen her inner beauty develop beyond that which I thought possible at such a young age.  I envy her this journey.  I wish that I had travelled this road years ago.

After our yoga we headed down the beach to near a lagoon where there are some wooden steps coming down from the dunes.  The light was already quite harsh by this time so we did not have ideal shooting conditions and she was facing into the sun.  Most of us would look dreadful right!  No make up, post exercise, harsh sunlight and facing into the sun.  I love this photograph for many reasons but mainly because of all those reasons.  This is Ellen in all her glorious bare beauty.  She has, in her eyes, a look of such contentment and determination.  What a wonderful combination.

Her sandy coloured cardigan blended beautifully with the wooden steps and her hair naturally bleached from our mornings on the beach just added to the muted tones.  I did a Scott Kelby process on this photo.  If anyone wants to know how to do this it is in Scott’s photoshop book and is a lovely, slightly desaturated look that works so well here.

I still do my yoga every morning, continuing with my own journey through this messy thing called life.  I miss her presence beside me.  She pushed me to achieve things I did not think I would, she encouraged me to be more, as I hope I did her.  We have both grown enormously in those hours side by side in the exquisite morning light.  She has far to travel and what an incredible journey it will be.

 

 

 

Driving the Karoo

Watching the last rays fall on the vast open landscape of the Karoo.

Watching the last rays fall on the vast open landscape of the Karoo.

What a privilege it is to live in this magnificent world and there is nothing like a long road trip to remind us of this.  Driving, for me, soothes the soul and expands the mind.

This month I had the good fortune to drive with my eldest daughter Ellen from Durban on the east coast of Africa to Cape Town on the west coast.  The drive is long. Very very long.  1635km to be exact.  We decided to do it in two 11 hour stretches and stop overnight in a small town (it can barely be called a town) called Colesberg which is somewhere in the middle of a mind blowingly vast and hauntingly beautiful Karoo.

We set off the first morning at 5am and felt the warmth of the sun rise as we headed west with George Ezra’s ‘Budapest’ playing loudly on the radio.   Taking turns with the driving, swapping every three hours, we stopped at every available stop for fuel, coffee, bathrooms and a dash of fresh air.

There is something so magical about road tripping. To steal the words from a text message I had sent to a friend on the trip  ‘Miles and miles of conversations, thoughts, sweet silences and a world so beautiful it takes your breath away.  It is an exquisite reminder of possibilities’.

The rolling green of the Natal hills turn quickly into the vast open dry landscape of the Free State.  Barren in it’s beauty, but beautiful nonetheless.  Endearing towns with quaint churches and golden fields of swaying grasses littered with wild flowers, it’s very openness encourages deep breathing and equally deep thoughts.

By far the majority of the drive is through the Karoo.  One simply cannot express the incredible size of this landscape except to say that probably around 18 hours of a 22 hour trip are on a mind boggingly straight road with nothing but dry, flat desert in every direction.

We made it to our overnight stop at around 4pm.  Time to roll out the yoga mat and stretch out those cramped limbs in the last of the afternoon sunlight.  It is easy to forget how very cold it can get in the desert in winter and as the sun set I took a walk around the charming but stark place we had chosen to rest for the night.   An icy wind blew at me but I stood my ground, determined to take a few shots of this amazing landscape as the day turned its back on us.

A hot shower, a warm fire followed by an exceptional dinner of roast lamb and finally a delightfully reassuring heated bed ensured we were well rested for day 2.

Another 5am start.  This one slightly delayed upon finding the car covered in ice.  One does not associate ice and snow with Africa but let me reassure you that the Karoo is cold at this time of year!  Half an hour later and the car finally warmed up and defrosted to the point of being able to see we head out onto that long straight road we had parted ways with just hours before.

There are very few petrol or coffee stops in the Karoo and it was two hours before we found our first cup of coffee. Two hours that had passed mainly in silence with the sun taking it’s time to greet us. A grateful stop for petrol and warm drinks and a driver swap and we set off for many more hours of tarmac, vast open landscapes and easy music for company.

About 2 hours outside of Cape Town we spot the first signs of mountains with snow covered peaks and lush green valleys. A welcome sight for any weary traveller.  A couple of hours of some of the most breathtaking scenery on this sweet earth and one arrives in what can only be described as the most beautiful city in the world.  Cape Town.

This is a trip I would do again in a heartbeat.

 

 

 

 



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