Monday, 26 May 2008


“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” Albert Einstein, Physicist
I was fortunate enough to visit the Kruger National Park over the weekend. Though words escape me today, those available to my beckoning are the core thoughts, that maybe I do not exist to produce something glorious, but just so I will bear witness to this wonderful creation. I am in awe. I am awake. I am a witness.

Monday, 19 May 2008


"I know that to paint the sea really well, you need to look at it every hour of every day in the same place so that you can understand its way in that particular spot; and that is why I am working on the same motifs over and over again, four or six times even." Claude Monet, French Impressionist Artist

Some of my most pleasant childhood memories are of the journeys to our holiday destination/s. All our luggage and holiday excitement would be loaded in the car under the cloak of early morning darkness. The car’s engine has a calming buzz whilst vast expanses of beautiful horizons whiz by. For hours on end I would just look at the scenes outside the car window. Within minutes different worlds would open before my eyes. I just loved the shapes in the clouds. One can’t help but feel free in a countryside so vast.
When the wet plate collodion process was discovered during the 1800s it opened a world of traveling to adventurous photographers. It still amazes me how they were willing to travel with such heavy gear and sensitive materials just to capture moments of their arduous journey. Some of those photos still captivate.
We are in such a privileged frame of history: digital technology advances at a speeding rate and the weight and size of cameras become smaller and smaller without compromising on quality. Unfortunately it seems that our society (maybe with the influence of technology allowing things to happen faster) breeds an idea that we don’t have time. Even though we are not constrained by the longer process of wet plate collodion photography, sometimes the rest of my party do not appreciate the remarkable scene beyond the car’s window and do not regard its splendour as enough justification to stop the car, breathe it in and take a photo. But the urge to point the lens at that horizon and take a visual memory of it with me is sometimes too great and I end up with photos like these.
All the landscapes are taken on the same road but within a three month interval and of course, the daylight scenes were taken during the afternoon and sunset clouds at late afternoon. They were taken from my vantage point - within the moving car. I’m not sure whether these images carry any artistic weight, but they evoke such pleasant emotions, that to me they’ll continue to fascinate and let me dream of the places I still want to stop at and breathe in.
Photographers and painters who lived a hundred years or more ago might have had more ‘trouble’ to put expeditions together and capture some remarkable scenes, but I still envy them to some extent, because they had the time to spend in those remarkable places. They didn’t just visit those places, they knew it, became friends with it.
For now, I will keep them in my purse, they will remind me of the places I still want to ‘journey’ to and many more I’m not even aware of yet, whilst at the same time it reminds me of my history - and maybe one day we’ll be friends.

Monday, 12 May 2008

The leap

“I am not afraid, I was born to do this.” The words of Joan of Arc. She was such a brave teenager, and a girl at that. One cannot help but admire her strength, perseverance and belief in what she was intended/instructed to do during her earthly life.
In my mind’s eye most photographers are also brave - conquerors of fear and uninhibited by their shortcomings. It must be the medium which armours them against this crazed world. Maybe the camera’s eye creates an illusion of a safe distance which enables the photographer to take the shot, to be brave in that instant before the bomb explodes, as the elephant flaps his ears in defiance, or walking down a deserted street, walking out of the familiar comfort zone.
The development of photography has inspired the world to travel, to see what lies beyond their fences and to want to go there where that picture was taken. Just think of the explosion of traveling tours, cruises and safaris at the beginning of the 20th century.
Picasso said that action is the fundamental key to success, and he was right. When you don’t pick up that brush, dip it into the paint and stroke across the canvass, there cannot be a painting. When you don’t look through the lens, nothing can be seen. And no-one will see the beauty you see, no-one will see the world the way you see it.
Photography has challenged the fears so comfortable in my thoughts. Not only has it dragged me out into the world, to see its beauty, to see it in its fullness (and not just the fearful/macabre/violent), to see the beauty within less stereotipical/preconceived ideas of aesthetics and move more towards what my own perceptions of beauty are. It also questions why certain fears are embraced and maybe to realise that some need not exist anymore, because they just restrict. Photography opens the eyes to beauty where you did not dare to see beauty before.
It was my camera that led me out of the safety of the hotel to this street in the Eastern Cape one January morning. From the opposite end of the street the sun’s rays just did not reveal the vibrancy of the colours. I had to walk there to see it. Fear can govern us so easily when we allow it.When I hold the camera I’m not the timid self anymore. Walking along a deserted street alone might seem to some not as bravery, but to me even though it’s not flying, it’s definitely a leap.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Forever looking at a moment

"Photography does not create eternity, as art does; it embalms time, rescuing it simply from its proper corruption." Andre Bazin, French Critic

What is the appeal of stories with characters that escape? Thelma & Louise, Bonnie & Clyde... Why do we envy them so? Even though our lives are evolving/satisfactory the dreary routine of every day seem to evoke the power to kill any ‘good life’ into a mundane one.
I had a chance to run away this weekend. We set up camp in between the plantations of a little forestry town, Sabie. Part of the whole appeal of the getaway was the complete different sense I experienced there. Even though I knew it was only slightly removed from my backyard, it felt as though I was hidden from my hometown life’s demands.
Every corner greeted me with the allure of autumn and I couldn’t but help to want to capture some of that essence and take it back with me.
Sam Abell, an American Photographer, so eloquently described this desire: “Photography, alone of the arts, seems perfected to serve the desire humans have for a moment - this very moment - to stay.”

Maybe the whole desire to “capture” a moment is because of its impossibility. We are conditioned by romanticised silver screen dialogues of characters satisfied by just a mere moment, that makes their whole existence worthwhile.
It could be that we just want to preserve some moments, because at that moment we were just so happy or ecstatic or sad and we realise its significance. We all might be afraid to forget the intangible things we own, and losing it without knowing what we had.
Why do we want to hold on to some moments? Why are we so afraid to let some moments pass? Maybe it’s because we know how fragile they are, how significant or fleeting. And the fear of the spaces in between these signature moments might entomb us, enslave us to the mundane - make us forget.
A photograph has the power (when it is an excellent photo) to call up that feeling at that exact time we had when the shutter opened. It’s like a spell, that will evoke the exact emotion when we look at it again. When looking, one can re-create that emotion, and for a fleeting moment escape back into that frozen wink.