Saturday, July 23, 2011


So I have been trying to get myself out in the public eye as a photographer recently, and it would seem that some of my efforts have been paying off, particularly after the last photo shoot that I did with Andrew and Adrian.

When I was out tonight, a number of people mentioned that they had seen and loved my photography, and I have one or two possible photo shoots in the near future that came about from people seeing and liking the photos that I took of the couple. I have also gotten a couple of messages throughout the week from people just wanting to mention how much they like my photos. Even better, when I commented on a photography blog that I read earlier this week, mentioning that I was an amateur and linking to my portfolio on 500px, I was informed (by a stranger) that my photography is certainly not of an amateur standard. So, all in all I am feeling very positive about my photography this week.

Tonight I was taking a number of photographs - just silly ones mostly and nothing amazing - and a situation did arise that made me question myself. As I was leaving my friend's house, he asked me to make sure not to put certain photographs of him and his boyfriend on Facebook. He had no issues with me taking the photographs at all, in fact he was one of the people who suggested that I do a photo shoot of him and his boyfriend. He just didn't want his family to know, as they are not particularly accepting. This wasn't a problem - I get requests often from people who do not want their parents to know that they smoke or are in a relationship or are caught in other situations that they do not want people to know about. But it did get me thinking.

If I were to do a photo shoot with this friend and his significant other, he assured me that I could add the photographs to my portfolio. But how far does that allowance go? As readers of my blog know, I tend to do blog posts about the photo shoots that I do, wanting to advertise the photographs that I take for publicity's sake. A lot of the people who know about my photography know about it because of my blog posts and the photos that are shown there. These are also updated on my Facebook page and the Evanescent Photography ZA page (which you must all please, please pretty please LIKE so that I can get more followers). Would his reluctance to have photographs with his boyfriend put on Facebook extend to putting those photos on my blog and having the blog published on Facebook, but without tagging him? How would I be able to get the photos out there without breaking his trust and his confidence? How far should the confidentiality and anonymity go?

These are questions that I need to find answers to, and any advise on them would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pandas and Badgers

Andrew Cuyler and Adrian Visagie
25 and 24


Pandas and Badgers are not the most likely of companions – one is cuddly, cute and eats bamboo, the other is ferocious and fierce and eats, well, whatever it can find. In this specific case, the Panda is a quiet introvert who enjoys sitting back to an episode of Glee while sipping on a homemade Cosmo while the Badger is an outgoing extrovert with an affinity to jocks who enjoys playing computer games while sipping on, well, whatever he can find (as long as it is not pink and in a martini glass). And yet, while opposites certainly do attract, they are not the polar opposites that you would expect.

So what do a Panda and a Badger have in common? Well, they both look cuddly at least (and in this particular case, they both really are)! They both have a deep love for computers and computer related things (ie. Games). They both have me as a friend. And, most importantly of all, they both love each other. And that’s what really matters isn’t it?

When Grant told me that there was a photography competition in the Grahamstown area, I knew that I had to enter it. When I heard that it had to be of two people of the same sex holding hands, I knew that it had to be Andrew (aka. Panda) and Adrian (aka. Badger). When I heard that Andrew and Adrian literally had no photos of the two of them together, I knew that I had to spread it out into a full-blown photoshoot. The problem was that I only had one lens (my 50mm prime) as my main lens is in the shops. Well, technically I had two lenses, but I didn’t think that the telephoto that I am borrowing from my dad would really be an appropriate lens for this shoot. And so, I made my way to the fantastically wonderful Paul Mills and borrowed one of his kit lenses – a 17-80mm wide angle that I am now incredibly jealous of.

The competition involved taking photos of two people of the same sex holding hands in a public place, but as I sped through Grahamstown on Saturday afternoon, it was to find the city deserted. After the madness that was fest, it seemed that everyone had decided indoors was the place to be. Even Bathurst street, which is usually bustling on weekends with people trying to sell their wares was deserted. And so, instead of wandering the streets trying to find people to photograph the couple with, I decided to head to Grey Dam to get the photoshoot started.

The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for a shoot – not a cloud tainted the blue sky, the wind was low and it was warm enough to wander around in short sleeved shirts without feeling either too cold or too hot. We were not alone in our idea to take advantage of the warm weather. As we arrived at Grey Dam, we struggled to find parking (and by struggled, I mean had to look for more than 10 seconds) between all of the 4x4s filled with families who had come to the Dam for a braai. We walked past these happy families and took a little walk down to the other side of the dam where the water clashed with the tall yellowing grass and made a beautiful setting for a photoshoot.

With the sun setting, we made our way to the second location of the day – the Botanical Gardens. There, despite a serious lack of people, I managed to snap some hand holding shots (not that they hadn’t been holding hands all day – I just had a very specific idea of the shots that I wanted to get.) As the two sat down on some steps facing the setting sun, their love for each other shone through and I was lucky enough to capture some of the clearly intimate moments between them before the subject of Minecraft was brought up. We took a walk through the gardens, bumping into many friends along the way, until the sun was truly on its last legs and I joined Andrew at his place for one last cocktail before making my way back home.

So, I might not have gotten a competition-winning shot, but I am certainly not too disappointed. After all, I got to spend the afternoon prancing around with a borrowed lens, playing around with my camera and taking photos of two close friends. What can be better than that?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bad Photography - Bad Photographer

I think that my interest in photography has actually ruined other people's photography for me. At least, it has certainly ruined other people's bad photography.

Take the exhibit that I went to this afternoon. Had I gone there with no photographical knowledge, I may have found the photographs appealing, I might have been drawn to them with oohs and ahs. Instead, today I looked at the photos and was completely unimpressed. What I saw was photographs that were out of focus or where the focus was on the wrong aspect of the photograph. One of the photos that everyone else was oohing and ahing over, I took one look at and walked away from. The lighting was wonderful, everything else was out of focus. I looked at every single single photo and knew that I could have taken the same photo or something better.

While this made me sad about my diminishing love of bad photography, it also made me happy. People were buying these photographs for between R850-R1250! Surely this means that I could do the same?

I think I have made a decision. Next year, I am going to have an exhibition and a stall at fest to display my photography. If people are willing to pay R850 for bad photography, surely they will do the same for the good (or even the mediocre) stuff. Now to find out how to get started...

Friday, July 8, 2011

What happened to my photography?

One of my favourite photos from the last couple of months - One of my best friends from high school, Gina Levin, getting married.

There have been a couple of issues over the last few months that have led to my photography taking a backstep.

First and foremost, I got a job. No longer are my days spent wandering around the house, staring at spaces and trying to picture how I would photograph them. These days, I awaken at 7:15, put on my face and clothes, drink a cup of coffee and then am off to work. My lunch hour tends to be spent either at the bank or the doctor or somewhere that is not the office or home, and I tend to be running around like a headless chicken. By the time I get home, it is either 5pm or just after, and the sun is already starting to set. By the time I get my camera out to capture a sunset or two, it has disappeared over the horizon, and it is too late. The little photography that I have been doing has been at night, and even then there hasn’t been much of it, as during my evenings I am not doing very much of excitement. This all boils down to one simple explanation: I have no life.

Another issue that I have had, aside from my lack of a life, is that one of my lenses has started hating me. My 28-80mm, the lens that I bought with my Canon 550D body, has stopped auto-focussing. Well, not stopped completely. Every now and then it will decide to co-operate, but only for a minute or two before it throws a little temper-tantrum and refuses to work. I can hear the camera making every effort to get it to work, but to no avail. So, I have sent the lens through to PE to try and have it fixed.

I have also been trying to build my site – an issue in itself. There has been a problem over the last few months involving servers moving to Johannesburg which has meant that I haven’t been able edit anything on the site or get it properly up and running yet.

I have not been totally useless, however. I have taken a couple of pics here and there – some at Gina (Levin) Smookler’s wedding, some at the fest grounds as I walked around and some general photography whenever the need strikes. I did have a bit of an issue while trying to do photography at the fest grounds. I got shouted at by one of the stall owners for trying to take a photo of some lariats that were hanging on a branch. Having walked around all day asking if I could take photos and constantly being reassured by the stall owners that there was no issue, I had stopped asking and had just started taking photos. There is nothing wrong with it really – the stalls are not private property and it is perfectly legal to photograph them without consent. Sure, it is more polite to ask, but that did not justify the outraged response from the stall owner who insisted that I delete the photograph immediately. I obliged, not wanting to get into a fight about it, but the issue shook me and I was thoroughly displeased. If I had ever considered paying for the overpriced lariat, the thought certainly no longer crossed my mind any longer. It was not a difficult design, and it was one that I could still easily replicate with the right beads. This means that there was no excuse for him to be as outraged as he was – if he thought that I was photographing the products to replicate them, photography wouldn’t be necessary.

In any case, I thought that I would offer an explanation for where I have been photography-wise over the last few months. However, I would like to get back to the photography and would love to find people who are interested in being photographed to build my portfolio. So if you aren’t camera-shy and would like to have a photo-shoot done free of charge, give me a shout and we will try to arrange something.