Mining photography has taken me to four continents on various assignments, however the African and South American Continents are my favourite to photograph.
Meet Doba. Doba is a very serious man, and it took me about three days before he would let me take his picture, and then get an ussie It was a few years ago when shooting in the DRC that we met, Doba was my bodyguard and my shadow whenever we left the exploration camp by vehicle. Mostly we travelled by helicopter to the drill sites, and the Geologists ‘fly camps’.
A few hours drive, along narrow twisty roads, from Medellín…a quick segue: those Colombians can drive; scary stuff, but everybody drives in the same crazy manner, so it somehow works!…to a small town called Cajamarca, a simply wonderful place. There are very few cars, as one does not really need one. You can walk the entire town in under two hours.
I was on assignment in Lesotho a few years back, where I met Potso Sebeta, he used to work in the mines and was very patiently waiting for his monthly disability payout. Through an interpreter we chatted for a while, and he introduced me to his wife Matisetso, who joins him in the queue every month; she helps him get around. After a while I explained why I was there, and showed him the images I had taken and asked if it was okay for me to use them, and for what. Potso literally beamed that I would want to show other people his picture and tell his story; he put his thumbprint onto my release form.
What has been sorely underestimated is the impact lockdown, and COVID, has had on mental health. Not being able to work, not being able to do the things one is used to doing. Not seeing ones family or friends. Then there is a lack of income, and what comes with it. All this impacts us, and our minds; it is not fun. With the recent relaxation of the lockdown restrictions came the ability to travel across provinces for some recreation, and we did exactly that.
A few years ago I was shooting at a game farm (with my camera, duh), my brief was to photograph the lodge, get some landscapes, and a selection of the wildlife on the reserve. I spent a few days shooting, and having the luxury of time, I could be patient in getting some of the wildlife, as those are not an ‘off the shelf’ kind of picture. However, we were nearing the end of the shoot, and we had yet to find their elusive Rhino. Apparently the Rhino would walk past the lodge every evening to go to their favourite feeding spot, but since I was there, they must have been on a diet! No Rhinos in sight.
On occasion, I get to do wildlife photography a bit differently to most. On this assignment I spent the most part of a week in the air, and in off road vehicles covering a Game capture program. The animals were darted by a vet from a helicopter, then transported to new breeding camps, or off to be sold to other game parks, and / or breeders. The trickiest animal to find was a rather large male Cape buffalo; for its size, it was reeeeally good at hiding. At the end of the week, all the animals earmarked for relocation, or sale had been located, darted, and safely transported to their new homes. The utmost care was taken to lesson the stress and trauma to the animals, and there were no injuries to them.
Dunno who said it, but is stays true: “Good photographer; good problem solver.” There is one other thing required: Patience, because as a photographer you can spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting for the light, the weather, people, or even a ship. Sometimes one needs to take advantage of the extra time and use it. Coega Deep Water Harbour, June 2018.
Industrial photography can be a challenging subject to photograph, as most industrial complexes are not always the prettiest thing to behold. The trick is to find the ‘beauty’, and capture it. Photographs can lie, making things look better, but one should never fake it to achieve that, but only enhance what you see while keeping it industrial. Industrial portraiture can be tricky in this regard, so one does not want to light the hell out of it, it is what it is; it is not a fashion shoot. I lit these shots to keep it real, added a little more drama and bringing the industrial revolution feels to it.