"She Bee Stingin'"
A total surprise... got a call via the agent, wanting to know if I was available to head off that afternoon (driving to Jozi as I was) t'wards Emperor's Palace. GQ wanted me to photograph Laila Ali, for an interview with Michelle Constant. Since then I have worked a few times with Michelle, and I cannot think of a better place to start than with the daughter of "the greatest". But I got another highlight out of nowhere... I got to meet Laila's manager, Damon Bingham, the son of Howard Bingham, the photographer that traveled around with Ali during the key moments of his career... bizarre that the family connection should continue like that.
After shooting her portrait (a hurried affair, with a number of press photographers at my back unamused at the clout GQ seemed to wield) I got to shoot her during her warm-up/training in the ring... she has a lot of her father's humour and attitude, something that became all the more obvious when Beyonce came on the iPod and her footwork showed that something extra... after meeting her, it turns out I scored a ticket to the fight coming up the weekend. Sadly, I only found out after the fact. Still, no loss really... she knocked her opponent out in 57 seconds, her 21st KO and 24th victory as a Super Middleweight, leaving her undefeated. She even had the grace to apologize later to South Africa for ending it all so quickly, as some had been expecting more of an event what with all the trash-talking from her opponent... who was she again?
Melodi Ya Mamelodi.
Got a phonecall from New York, asking for a shoot with Vusi Mahlasela. Think this was December... it was a nightmare getting it organized, as the New York office of Trace Magazine handled everything, as I sat on my hands not 20 km from Vusi's home and 10 km from good friends who happen to also be his booking agents. Go figure. Eventually I got a confirmation from New York, for an hour slot! And this at around 11 in the morning... for those that know the African summer sun, you'd be hard pressed to pick a trickier time to shoot, and this on location... they wanted Vusi in his Mamelodi surroundings.
In the end, I wasn't ecstatic with what I got... though I liked that the b&w portrait worked out... a style I have now started to work in more and more, as you will see in the upcoming posts. That said, the highlight was getting to meet Vusi one on one for a change, and not in passing at a festival. I have profound respect for him as a musician, an activist and a voice... the Voice, in fact, as he is known. This shot was never used in the article, but meant a bit to me... it was in the street outside his gogo's house, whom he then promptly took me to meet. This while he had to be heading to a luncheon meeting with the Danish ambassador, who supported one of Vusi's outreach programmes.
So far I am still waiting to see the magazine the work appeared in... was promised a copy, but so far have only viewed it online, thanks to a friend from Pretoria (now living in New York) who tracked it down. Hopefully there'll be a package for me at the post office some day soon. Fingers crossed. If you get a copy yourself, let me know... otherwise you can view it online yourself here...
Full Of Sound And Fury.
One week down in the new year... already on New Year's Day, late night, there was the odd moment; the joys of what I do. 27 to midnight, an ambulance or two down Voortrekker Road. Bums one out a bit, reminds me of darker days spent walking Sunnyside with a camera at 3 am. Squatting, girlfriend melodrama, drugs on the sidelines, and trying to give up drinking. Learned to love Macbeth then:"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor playerThat struts and frets his hour upon the stageAnd then is heard no more: it is a taleTold by an idiot, full of sound and fury,Signifying nothing." - Act V, Scene V.
And, of course, learned to love the positive course taken since then. Something about being able to walk down to the park with your wife and daughter (even if it is Pretoria North, and even the grass in the park can saw through timber) and marvel as she climbs up to the top of a 15-foot slide. And also, as she vehemently craps all over her mother for going on the swings. Life is good...
As is work, and about to get better... keep in touch for what's coming up in 2007. A lot more colour, as well. In the meantime, go watch L.A. Story.
Sin Auld Lang Syne.
New Year's Eve was a blast, in Pretoria at the Tuks FM Capital Countdown. It's the third year running that Fokofpolisiekar have played it, and the third year that I have shot it with them. They played a blinder, a truly awesome show, even though at one point there were those of us on stage that could hardly breathe thanks to Marky of The Dirty Skirts firing off multiple fire extinguishers.
Speaking of The 'Skirts, their show was also great, though beset by sound problems. Marky deserves a medal for bravery, on account of his taking the piss out of a life-size cut-out of Kurt Darren. For those of you who don't know Kurt, or Hatfield Square in Pretoria (where the concert took place), that's some serious nailing of colours to the mast... Mark is alive and well in Cape Town, at the mo'.
More suited to a Pretoria crowd (though The 'Skirts rocked it) was Valiant Swart. There's not much to say, other than that the man is a legend. His set got cut a bit short, but he finished it in style with Mystic Boer, as usual... it was a small and awkward stage for a 6-piece band, so it was a mission to shoot, but I have plans for better shots in the New Year, of another nature. More on that later...
The night belonged to Fokofpolisiekar though, and a weird one it was too... third time in a row that things ran behind schedule, with the band having to stop halfway through their set so the Tuks DJ's could commence the countdown. Even so, they didn't cool down too much, and tore the place apart shortly thereafter. Was a bit of a "going through the motions" shoot for me though; what with the nature of the video I did for them recently, and a possible exhibition on them I have planned (from an entirely different perspective), it felt like a caged hunting trip, with all photographers present going for the same archetypal shots over and over, and likewise missing the same others. Oh well... no flies on the band though.
One bonus of the New Year's show is that while the band are on the opposite side of the country from home, come midnight, they at least have their girlfriends with them. Same applies to me, in the case of my wife... it's nice to get a little "family" time bang in the middle of what usually equates to work. To the left (and from the left) are Pini, Ingrid and Lauren. I won't tell you who's with who... like most girls with guys in bands, they don't like being defined as such, but there's a clue in the vid if you're really aching to know.
Happy New Year, everyone.