Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Ostrich Steaks And Haircuts.

Been having a bit of trouble with this entry the last few days. First, there was a pic, and no text. Then, text, and no pic. Then the text vanished again. Joy. I'm not typing all that again.

So here goes: Fokofpolisiekar, new promo shots, laid back, real braai, not an out-take, ostrich steaks rule, gemsbok a close second, Brenden and Wynand know the deal when it comes to sauces.

Forget mochachinos and finger foods... I should do more shoots with steak!


Monday, January 30, 2006

Murder Called.

Been doing a bit of work, of late, for Murdercall Records. I last shot Man In Suit in Cape Town for them, and was quite stoked to be heading back down again, this time to shoot two new signings to the indie label. First up was The Scare. I'd never seen them, and had little idea of what their aesthetic was... still had a site to sort and all. In situations like that, it can be tricky to come up with a idea for the shoot... when I'm shooting cold, I prefer to at least have the advantage of a studio environment. But, we tried the angle of playing on their name a bit, and did the shoot in Tyger Valley's parking lot; there's more to the in-joke there as well, but I will keep it to myself for now. Still, I would like to do more with them... will take care of that when I see them live at the Knife Fight Fest in March, where I will be the official photographer. Joy!

The other band, The Horror Cast, was also shot at Tyger Valley. That might well make sense for those that know Cape Town. While it is a mall, it's been a focal point of the scene in Cape Town's Northern Suburbs in the past... all ages shows were regularly held at the mall's skate park, and you can find assorted band members of half the groups in the North working there. It's a mecca for teen angst and alternative music, and that's not a piss take; Emo Kid Josh, Love Hunter, Neshamah, New World Inside, Fokofpolisiekar, The Horror Cast, The Scare, 5 Star Society, Aftertaste, Tonight We Die, Heart Fiction... the list goes on and on for bands that can trace a branch of the family tree back there in some way. Anyway, these guys had an idea of what they wanted to try, all 80's horror, which allowed us to mess with the theme, ala Friday The 13th. Took my old hockey mask down for the shoot... it wound up becoming a friend's house-warming gift.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

"... I DO Know When I'll Be Back Again..."

At the airport, leaving on a jetplane. Tired out... I feel like Hunter looks. It's been a crazy few days... due to unexpected changes in plans, I wasn't really as able to update as I would have liked. But at least I have been busy: The Scare and The Horror Cast for Murdercall Records; Fokofpolisiekar (three shoots) for them and their label; The Wild Eyes for Stage Magazine; Tykoon Suit for Blunt Magazine... even got to go to a launch party for a magazine that interviewed me, as well as pick up some Levi's, a Man In Suit CD and tattoos along the way. Sweet.

Everytime I'm in Cape Town, I feel like I don't get a chance to touch down enough. This time is no different. Crashing in the 'burbs keeps me from shooting more street stuff. Hopefully, with a lot of friends moving into the city bowl, I will be able to rectify that in the near future. Links, shots and list of flea bites to follow.


Sunday, January 22, 2006

I'd Like To Thank The Academy.

A friend sent word... the results of the Make Some Noise alternative music awards for 2005 are up here. I’m quite stoked, as I took Best Photographer, and Best Music Journo. Plus, they used one of the oddest photos of me I have ever seen, taking the piss with Paul Gioia, in Rooftop Studios, while recording. So thanks to everyone who voted, and thanks to Make Some Noise. They started off as a music magazine, and then redirected their efforts into that of a thriving online community, the place to be for the darker side of the South African music scene. As far as alternative music goes in SA, you’d be surprised how many artists and fans you’ll regularly find posting there.

Speaking of artists; there are some further connections in the awards listed that I’d like to mention: The magazine I string for, Blunt, won Best Magazine; the Rockstar Award went to Francois of Fokofpolisiekar (with my photo used); Best CD Release Artwork Local went to The SlashDogs, for which I shot the images, though the design work was done by the Reverend Wright, shown here to the left; Best Front Person went to Francois, with Best Guitarist going to Andreas Smit, of Forever Will Burn (also with my picture); The SlashDogs also won Best Album Local for "Spilled Blood Calls For Vengeance"; and Best Video Local went to Fokof, with one of my most insane action shots of them live used to depict the acoustic video. Odd that, though I’m glad that photo is seeing the light of day.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

On The "Road" Again.

Most of my life, I have been used to the idea of flying. In fact, my first memories take place in the back of a transport helicopter, in a combat zone, when I was around the age of four. Long story, but a true one… so goes the life of an Air Force brat. I guess that’s why the idea of flying by passenger airliner doesn’t really do anything for me.

In fact, the last time I was in an aircraft and actually cared enough to take my camera out, was in October; and that was only because it was the first time my daughter flew, and I found myself fascinated with her reactions, and intent on recording them.

This time round, I tried it again, though the cloud cover was so intense, leaving from Johannesburg International, that scarcely a minute into our climb, everything was white… sorta like the way certain wankers in this country wished Jo’burg had always been.

Landing was a different story, with strong winds forcing us to turn over False Bay and approach from a different direction than usual. That said, it’s still not the same as hurtling along in a Puma with the doors open and your legs hanging out. Coffee’s better, for a start.

Arrived at Fokof’s place, where I will be staying… the combat theme endures, it seems. The night before had been rough, with some of the guests staying over, like Jaco here. With everyone nursing hangovers and the like, the band started moving house into town. I packed away my camera and got stuck in. Looks like “work”, of the non-manual labour variety, only starts tomorrow.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Throw Me A Bone.

Just got an email from an old friend, and realised there was one band I had shot of late that I've said nothing about in a long time. Hands up if you know Fuzigish. Jay Bones, pictured here, let me know he likes the blog. Typical of him to reply in private, and not just post a comment. There are those of us here that think he's one of the most natural songwriters out, and yet he's the complete antithesis of a "rockstar", in person and on stage... totally down to earth, he typically flashed me a huge, cheesy grin after I got this shot.

It can be a mission to catch him in "action"... what with bassist Chest Rockwell going off, and two trombon(ists?) on stage that both must qualify as clinically insane, he kinda gets lost in the whirlwind. As a result, I find it hard to shoot Fuzi sometimes... like in this shot (which I don't fully like), which goes a small way to showing how crazy it gets onstage. At one point, Bones almost had his leg set on fire as the juggling got out of hand... literally.

That said, they are one of those bands that always has me reaching for the camera once I've put it away. Even though I had not particularly planned to shoot them that night, such was the energy of the show, I had to get a few. They really connect with the crowd, and can get them to go crazy. I should know; I've gotten so pumped during a Fuzi show, I've stagedived with my camera in pursuit of Nick Da Fool, their roadie-cum-good luck charm; that's him looking furtive in the corner.

So thanks for the props J; these are for you.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Missing What's Around Me.

I'm getting itchy feet... I'm keen to hit the road again. There's a sense of focus when I am traveling... like when I shot this, on tour with Familia. I do understand that it's more luck than direct skill that results in that particular moment, in the perfect balance of the lines; but I like to think a sense of "learned instinct" (if there is such a thing) also plays a part. Muscle memory on the trigger finger, perhaps. But that sense of detachment that I get from being away from home makes me focus all the more clearly, all the more susceptible. Warren asked me how I see these things... I can only offer the above by way of explanation.

The downside of being away is missing my family. This shot was taken by Francois, while we were relaxing, just after the band had finished their soundcheck for their New Year's Eve show in Pretoria. I don't usually look this goofy (I hope) but like most photographers, I can suddenly feel very uncomfortable when the camera is turned on me. But she does break down a lot of my "walls", and I think Francois got something here, concerning the two of us.

I love my wife dearly, and the fact that I am married (yet also spend a good deal of time away from home) is a source of surprise to some. But she is very independent, very strong willed, and not the type to sit around without purpose while I am gone. As not only a mother, but a student (completing her Master's) and a counselor for those affected by HIV/AIDS, it amazes me that she even notices I am gone. I hope she does. At times though, she at least gets to tag along, like here; with Johnny, on the roof of the Protea Hotel, in Pretoria.

And then there's the kid. Brigid I miss terribly, and while she is taken up during the day with playing, exploring, and watching Play With Me, Sesame (her new obsession), I know she misses me too. I have a collection of clips of her on my cell phone that, when I am on the road and particularly homesick, I not only watch myself but wind up showing to whomever I'm with. Not always fun for them, I imagine. But it keeps me sane.

There's a reason for the clips, as opposed to stills; I have never had a more difficult subject. It seems so easy to make a "pretty"picture; but how to document, how to tell a story that just progresses daily at what seems an unnatural rate, but is of course the very essence of natural? Some documentarians take incredible shots of their children. I tend to make simple shots, like these of her first day at pre-school. I guess I am too close to it.

I was listening to an interview with Simon Wheatley, and he spoke of how loneliness helped him; how he cannot work with someone tagging around. It seems the same, like this shot where Ingrid becomes foreground interest, as I track Snake's movement, the girls' expressions, try to time Wynand's exhalations of his cigarette smoke and still catch the expression on his face as he sees me shooting... all while trying to compose. That's when it works.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Sight Unseen.

Still raining. Too much time to kill. As a result, I was just reading through another photographer's blog (Clay Enos, an amazing talent), and got to thinking about this. I agree with what Dan Connor says in the comments too though. I see all digital as progressive; it seems, in terms of what it offers, to be to film what 35mm was in essence to bulky 4x5 cameras in the past: an essential tool and improvement on previous methods of telling the story. And yes, the phone cam is a Kodak Brownie in it's way.

There are many debates though around issues of "digital pollution"... and often, when shooting from the stage for a band, it is shocking to see the number of people entrenched in the front row, intent on their phone cameras held out at arm's length in front of them... and apparently not really listening to the band. They are more intent on what they are seeing moving through the phone... instant chimping, so to speak.

That said, I still love this shot. It has an old school flavour... the second mic that Francois uses is much the same as what appears in the new Cash biopic, Walk The Line, and the smoke is so very Village Vanguard. But the cellphone brings it screeching into the present, and I wouldn't change it for a thing. It's amongst many that were submitted for the article on Fokof mentioned below. Once the afterglow fades, one starts to realise what was not used. No worries though. Just hope I find some way of showing these shots in the future.


Saturday, January 14, 2006

Happy New Year.

Today is the Buddhist new year, if you follow the Mahayana tradition. A time of reflection, for those of us already full on into the swing of things past January 1st? School's back in session, work's on the go, that first paycheck of 2006 is juuuuusst within our grasp... In the words of Kalu Rinpoche: "Through mantra, we no longer cling to the reality of the speech and sound encountered in life, but experience it as essentially empty. Then confusion of the speech aspect of our being is transformed into enlightened awareness."

Less talk, more pictures. Happy New Year.


The Missing Day... The Morning After.

Just realised that there was a day left off of the Fokofpolisiekar tour journal. I had originally inteded to post "the morning after" along with the rest of the updates concerning the Voelvryf Toer, but I think Dreamweaver died on my laptop. Something like that. Regardless, rather than update the original tour journal, I though I would add the shots here. Everything was taken after about four in the morning. While most of the band and crew had to drive through to Port St. Johns the night after the show, some of them were flying all over the country... first to go was Johnny, and his flight was at some ridiculously early time. So, it was decided to deurnag, and after just chilling with the guys for a while, I decided to get my camera. This is him, strong like a lion, in the backpacker's in Durban.

It's in instances like this that I consider myself a lucky person. These are the shots I like to get, of anyone around me, regardless of their "celebrity" status. Fokof, I like to think, are used to me, and trust me to use my own discretion. That said, I know many of my shots don't exactly add to the glamour, but I have never heard a complaint from the band... they accept what is real, no matter how drunk, sleep deprived or unawares I catch them. Though, not always unawares... it seems I've got a million shots of Francois gurning.

It's shots like these that I cherish though; not the greatest of photos, but important to me nonetheless. The bigger the band get, the more nutters pitch up on the periphery. And they have soome pretty wierd shit to say. For example, there has been the odd rumour floating round concerning Snake's fidelity while on tour. While it's not my job to defend him, I have spent more than enough time hanging around with him across the country, and I have yet to meet a musician more devoted to his girl. Here, he takes Lindy to bed after she fell asleep on an armchair. It's not very "rock & roll", but it's very him. Besides, he makes up for his avoiding groupies with other insane behaviour.

Lindy wasn't the only female on tour... here's Pini, Wynand's girlfriend. It was a bonus for me that she came along. I get a huge kick from hanging with her, but hardly ever get to see her, except briefly when in Cape Town. She takes shit from no one, and this has led at times to others getting the impression that she's overly hardcore. Fact is, she's got a heart of gold, and one of the least judgemental people I have ever met. Just don't cross anyone she cares for though. With her is Rudy. He and I go way back... when I first went on tour with the forerunners of Fokofpolisiekar, New World Inside, he and I go to know one anther. That was 2002, and we still remain friends, though we hardly see each other, except for the odd tour. Rudy is the perfect roadie... if something is wrong, from an amp to the mood, he becomes obsessed with fixing it. Sorted, like.

Of course, try as they might, they had played six shows in a row. Johnny seemed to be maintaining, but Francois was fading fast. Most of the time though, looks can be decieving. Franny has more energy than any other frontman I have ever met. He's usually the mot pumped before a show, goes off like a nutter while he's up there, and then clowns around 'til sunrise after the show. One of the few that can keep up with me, it seems, though with the amount of coffee I drink, I think my liver will soon put an end to that.

This shot was taken at five in the morning. Hunter looks dead on his feet, but Wynand is still going... still drinking too, it seems. Right after this they left for Durban International. I had run out of pace on my card as well... this was the last shot of the tour. I only had to fly back later in the day, but luckily Hanu was still in town, and he offered me a lift to the airport, so that I didn't have to sit there for six hours.

Well, that's that. If you are a Fokof fan, leave a comment, I'd like to know what you think of the beind the scenes stuff. Sometimes it seems all fans want are live shots, which is ironic, as they usually get to see that themsleves.


Friday, January 13, 2006

"... The Devil Will Find Work For Idle Hands To Do."

One of the reasons I have been sans camera of late has been due to filing and editing. While I do actually enjoy it, it can get a bit tedious sometimes, especially when I saw the photos while shooting, while putting them through my workflow, and now again... only to have to wait a month or so (mostly) before seeing them in print. But when they do hit the shelves, it's grand.

Like so. The new Session, Issue 19, is on the shelves. My favourite part of it is the Familia ad; #8 in the series, known as "Demo Gods". I have read a lot on the web about photographer's frustrations with clients, when creativity is expected but according to the client's guidelines... not the best environment for creativity to flourish in. Familia certainly rate as some of my favourite clients in that even though they have a lot of input (all are very specific about what they stand for, and where the roots of their aesthetic lies) they respect my style and ideas. As a result, I'm eight ads down the lines with them, and have seen them use documentary images in an advertising capacity that does more credit to the photos than most magazines do... everyone should be so luck as to get client's like this.

Also in the latest Session is a photo feature, with a lot of colleagues' work, from local skate shooters Ben Bergh and Mig Howell, to "Bang Bang Gucci" lensman Warren Van Rensburg. Some of my unused shots from the last few years are in the mag, and they look good, I'm glad to say. The colour shot is of Q & Not U... I'm glad they came here on tour, and I got the chance to see them... they have since broken up, and I consider it a huge loss. Speaking of Warren...

He and I got the chance to be on the other side of the lens for a change. We wound up modelling for Aubrey Jonsson who was doing a shoot for SL. We were 'supposed to be fighting or something, but it seems Warren couldn't keep from cracking up every now and then. Don't think we'll quit our day jobs somehow, but it was fun to do... and it gives one an appreciation for how awkward it can be staring down a camera. Warren's day job, apart from his photography of course, is photo editor of Stage Magazine. The new issue is out, and with it my first assignment for the magazine in it's new format.

Finally, the Fokofpolisiekar article is here. There have been a lot of the band's fans asking me about this one; well, now you can go buy it. I'm quite stoked with how it came out... they went very minimal on the layout, and completely avoided using ANY live shots... only images of the band behind the scenes. Given that many photographer's that know of my association with the band seem to think I'm all about the jump shots, I'm glad Steak (Stage's editor) went with that approach. It feels good to be a "mere" documentary photographer again.

I remember a documentary on National Geographic phototographers, where one of them mentions getting the cover (I think it was Sam Abell). Anyway, he describes it as such an affirming feeling, in terms of being able to see it on a shelf and know that it's "yours". It's true. It's a good feeling. And to top it all off, it's not my usual style... Portraiture is more Warren's domain, but he was clear on what he wanted, and the result (in 07:30am Durbanville light) is that shot... more of an anti-portrait, as I have taken to calling Warren's style. Only worry for me, with the sun being so low, is the shadow in the bottom of the frame. I hoped to dodge it out once they'd selected the final image, but they went to print without letting me have a crack at it. So I'm in the shot too now. Joy.

Indulge me one last bit of punting... the spread from the Joy Of Jazz article. South African Jazz is a whole other story, even when shooting it. As far as the venues go, it's an absolute ball to shoot; the light is like butter, and one can get much sharper shots, sans flash, than one could EVER get in your average club. Props to the designer of the piece in the mag, Johan de Lange. I normally hate when peeps crop or cut my frames, as I always shoot full frame (unless I specifically intend to crop to another format). But Johan actually asked me first (how often does that happen?), explained what he had in mind, and surprised me... I like how his mind works.

Well, that's it for now. Back to hours in front of the laptop. As far as Familia goes, if you are a fan, be sure to check the next issue of Session, as a big article is planned there, concern the Backseat Driving Tour. 'Til then, I'll just keep listening to The Smiths (for those of you who haven't figured out how this post got it's title).


For Those Stuck In London.

This one goes out to Rudi. One might even think he knew where he was headed. No worries mate... it's pissing down here in Pretoria, and we haven't seen the sun in days.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

New Year, Same Story... Different Book?

Sorry it's been quiet for so long... tour wore me out a bit, and I've been chilling with the family. Realised when I came home from almost the entire December on tour, that I could no longer adjust to ordinary sleeping patterns. Sad thing is, I have hardly taken any pictures, and that bugs me some. But more on that later; for now, welcome to the new blog (or, at least, the new "When?" of Question Everything.)

Hanu, The Narrow. Amamzimtoti, 19 Dec 2005.Oh, and here's one of Hanu for The Narrow fans that came here and felt Fokofpolisiekar was getting an unfair shake... ;-) Seriously though, I have had a few fans ask me about their shows of late, since I went on tour with both bands before. In the case of the Voelvryf Toer, with Fokofpolisiekar, was pretty much on assignment for die bende... but I did get some tight shot of my Pretoria homies as well. There will be more to follow, and The Narrow may even pick some up themselves, that you will then be able to find on their site.

Excuse the odd slips of Corne & Twakkie talk... I'm loving their show of late.