Travel Pt.1 (Switzerland)

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” 
― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

I like that quote. And yes, I just googled "travel quotes", because I don't know any. That was actually my first result and I think it rings very true. Prior to being 28 years old, I had never traveled abroad. The furthest I had ever gone was across one of our borders to Mozambique with a girlfriend at the time and her family.

Then 2013 came and this happened. Followed the link and you're caught up? Okay, great.

In 2014 I interned with American Editorial and Commercial Photographer Zack Arias for a few months and if you want to read about that you can check out the archival blog, Only in America. That was my first time traveling abroad and that just opened the floodgates.

My next trip was in 2015 to China with the Steinway artist Charl du Plessis, which was a very impromptu and spontaneous thing.

In 2016 I didn't have the good fortune to do any traveling. And that brings us to this year, where I basically invited myself to go on tour with the Charl du Plessis trio to Ernen, Switzerland for the Musikdorf Festival and also slap a trip to Italy on top of that and go see my friends Sara Lando and Alessandro Locatelli.

Why the f*ck am I writing about this? Well, because traveling opens you up. To new people, new experiences, possibilities. It breaks down self-imposed barriers. It's scary and wonderful traveling on your own and even with someone to foreign and strange lands where you don't speak the language and you communicate with your hands, eyes, making gestures. It's almost like charades in a strange way.

Anyway, here are some images from that trip.

Sit back, relax, maybe get some wine, because this will be a long one with many images, and then go buy a plane ticket and travel the world. It's one of the easiest things to do, which is both great and shit.

On the train from Zürich to the small town of Ernen. The reason for there being no images of Werner is that he forgot his glasses at the airport and had to double back to get them. Which I a happy to report, he did.

Some images from around the town as well as the trio rehearsing.

The trio rehearsing with Opera singer Rachel Harnisch.

On this morning I went hiking into the forests of Ernen and it was a really beautiful site. During the entire 90 minute to 2-hour walk I only encountered people twice. The thing that kinda took my breath away on this morning was the fact that I drank water from a glacier that was running down the mountain as you can see on the left in the second image. I just had to stop and take in how ridiculous this was, that two days prior I had been in South Africa and now I was in the mountains of Switzerland.

This was followed by the trio rehearsing with Rachel in the church where most of the performances take place during the festival. I also had the great fortune of photographing world-famous ballet choreographer Heinz Spoerli from the Zürich ballet company (he retired in 2012) along with Charl. This was a little bit of an impromptu shoot and as you can see I had to get creative with my lighting :)

The morning and the evening of the main performance of the trio with Rachel in the church.

The morning before the trio's final performance, as they were rehearsing I photographed the husband and wife (the first two images) who are, I believe the main sponsors of the event, as well as Francesco Walter who spearheads the festival and the last images, are of Heinz Spoerli as well as a sneaky BTS image showing how I had a nice lady hold up a piece of tinfoil that doubled as a reflector. I had to be resourceful for a second time on this trip in how I photographed one of my subjects.

This is the town hall and the place that the trio first performed in 7 years earlier. It was also a fitting end to Hugo (the drummers') tenure, bringing it full circle by playing where it all began. Hugo now lives in Beijing with his wife.

And that was pretty much it for this first part of the journey. We ate well, drank well (some of us a little too well, I would wager) and hung out with strangers and friends. It was and is probably one of my favorite trips thus far and if all goes well I will return in 2018 to document a very cool collaboration and performance. Here's to hoping.

Part two will be up soon, where I speak a little about Italy and my time there with friends as well as on my own.

Thanks for reading

Creation & Art

So far this year I've photographed a lot of things. In total, 54 things. That's roughly twice as many shoots as last year this time. I've not been doing a great job at posting about it though and keeping my website updated. I'm working on being better at it; I promise. This will hopefully be the start of it. When I started writing this post I had roughly 40 new images I want to update my portfolio with.

Before I carry on, let me share some of those images with you.

A quick insight on the images above.

  1. Anya, is the lovely wife of Tasos whom I've photographed and written about before here and after what felt like an eternity I finally messaged her and said that I wanted to have a portrait sitting with her. I missed the focus on this shot, but damn it I love it. Your photos don't alway have to be sharp.
  2. and 3. Morné, is an artist/painter that lives in the street parallel to where I reside currently and he contacted me for some portraits he needed for his upcoming exhibition at that time. The second image of him was featured on the cover of Editéur Plus Issue Nine. The first image was me trying to convey the chaos that I see when looking at his work and I'm really happy that I made that photo.
  3. Sakhile, is a dude I saw at a local cafe and after months of speaking with his girlfriend at the time we nailed down a date and I shot this profile image of him. The other shot of him is in my Instagram feed, here.

As I've mentioned I've been fortunate to photograph and work with some great people and companies in the last couple months. One such shoot was with Nataniël for his upcoming book documenting a small amount of his extensive costume collection, spanning a 30 year career. I believe the book drops in September, so until then I have to keep things under wraps.

I've photographed artists and friends and people whom have become friends. I've traveled to Cape Town to photograph the first ever piano performance by my good friend Charl du Plessis on top of Table Mountain (more on that in a follow up post). I've photographed images for a poster for an independent Afikaans Sci-fi film called, Siklus, by Louis Minnaar. I also can't release those photos yet. I recently worked on images for a Coca-Cola campaign and a lot of smaller, more intimate images with friends.

What I'm trying to say is that I've been keeping busy or, at least, trying to. Now I need to carry forward this momentum. I need to go out and create new work. Right now I am in a space where work has halted and it is always scary when I find myself in this place. In the past that's the thing that has dragged me down and into some pretty shit places where I felt worthless, and the images I were making, or rather not making, made it even worse.

Another portrait sitting that I am super happy with was of my friend Kelda's mother, the artist Margaret Nel, who is a painter and needed some images for her October exhibition. Her work is so beautiful and there is a painting of packaged meat that I so badly wish was hanging in my home. Check out her work when you have a minute.
My favourite image of her is probably the stitched panoramic portrait.

In closing, I've created a lot of imagery. Some of it I am really proud of and others less so. Is it art? It's subjective and differs from person to person. In photographing the artists and "regular" folks, I have I've come to see that through creation you get to a place where something may become art or artful. It's the process. You create and make and collaborate and eventually through struggle and perhaps a lot of crappy work you get to a point where you are happy with the art you've created.

Thanks for reading.