Over the years I have been asked a lot of questions about photography and my work (specifically from photography students and other photographers) which I have always tried to answer but most of the time I get asked the same things so I thought that it would be best to post them up here to save time … at the end of the day it is important that I spend my time photographing and looking after my clients as apposed to answering a million emails … unfortunately there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Give these a read and if there is anything else you need to know then contact me and I will try my best to get back to you when I can.
Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1982 and was brought up there. I have traveled a lot during this time and I am now currently based in Central London, United Kingdom, but frequently work between the UK, Europe and South Africa as I have clients and commitments in these countries.
How and when were you introduced to photography?
As far back as I can remember, I have always had an interest in photography. Let me correct that and rather say that I have always been amazed at photographs and the stories behind them. I remember my parents always shooting photographs of us, as a family, on holidays and then the exciting feeling we used to share looking back at those images and telling stories about what we were looking at.
In high school, I started skateboarding and reading skateboarding magazines wishing that we could capture our group of friends the way those magazines had done. We used to steal our parents camera’s and shoot photographs without them knowing but when we received the photographs back from the printers, we realized that we never had a clue. I couldn’t understand why we were taking photographs of the same kinds of tricks we were seeing in adverts but our images had no grandeur. I started investigating what worked and what didn’t and I eventually convinced my dad to buy a decent SLR so that we could learn a bit of photography together. We had a lot of fun from then on and although I have a bunch of really good photographs from our high-school skateboarding days, I also have a lot of rubbish.
In 2000, I traveled to London for a few months and then onto Los Angeles, California, for a few months and I used this time to explore photography and try to get images that I could bring back to my family and friends to try get them to experience what I had over those months. I loved it, I loved the process of getting the images developed, I loved thinking through each shot before I took it, I loved sharing the images, I loved seeing peoples faces when I had a good photo and I love it now that so many years on, I can look back and remember things almost exactly as they had happened.
I ended up studying photography and digital design for 2001 and 2002 and during this time, I had started working for a big design company and shooting as much as I can. Quite a few of my images were published and I really enjoyed the feeling of opening a magazine and seeing my work, it pushed me a lot to improve and work hard. I was trading under the name of Melon Graphics for all my freelance work and towards the end of 2002 I decided to resign from my job and really concentrate on what I was doing.
Through Melon Graphics, I have shot photographs for top agencies, magazines, newspapers, bands, celebrities and companies and really had a lot of fun doing what I enjoy and trying hard to do it well. Now that I am based in the United Kingdom, I am freelancing in my personal capacity and am focusing on portraiture as well as band photography including music press, live music and promotional portrait photography.
What equipment do you use?
I started out with Canon back in the day but never really felt comfortable with my camera. I decided to pack it in then and make a shift to Nikon which I have never regretted. My first Nikon was an F801 shortly followed by an F90X. This became my favourite camera and this was the camera that I shot my entire portfolio on during my studies. I still think the results of this camera are amazing but due to the rush that photography brings, I have since had to shift most of my work onto digital.
My first digital SLR was the Nikon D70 which served me well. It was not a professional body but I achieved some amazing results with it and had plenty work published proving that the operator and lenses are way more important than the gear. I think I shot 180 000 photographs through my D70 and I decided to purchase myself the D200 when it was launched and keep the D70 as a back up body.
Since then things have progressed a lot and I have spent a lot of money investing in equipment.I ended up moving on to the D3, then the D3s, then the D800 and then the D810 which I loved a lot but had a bunch of faults that I just couldn’t stand … resulting in a move, after 20 years, back to Canon. I never thought that would happen and after the first few weeks of stress and panic I feel like I’ve found my sweet spot and am now happy with my kit.
I currently use the Canon 5DS as my body of choice and it’s a beauty. I have a good collection of Canon lenses including a 16mm – 25mm f2.8, 40mm f2.8 and 24-70mm f2.8. After much testing I have also included the 35mm f1.4 and 50mm f1.4 from Sigma … these lenses are insane … if only they were weather proof. I shoot with lighting most of the time and I find that Profoto really offers me what I am looking for in terms of light and build quality. If I am trying to pack light-weight then my strobe units of choice are the Yongnuo’s along with a few Pocket Wizards.
For editing and my post production work, I use the 27″ iMac 3.5GHz Intel Core i7 as well as the 15″ MacBook Pro while I’m out on the road.
Do you prefer digital above film?
For cost and delivery reasons, I would say yes. Majority of the stuff that I shoot is for publications / syndication and it is really important that they get the images as soon as possible so digital makes this a lot more possible. No lab I can think of is open at 2am ready to process my spool so that I can send it to print in the morning. With digital though, I can get back to the office after a job to log my photos and work on the ones that would be needed and mail them off to the client so that they have them first thing in the morning. It really is all about deadlines and some times images are even signed off on location which is amazing. In saying this though, I feel that the quality of my digital setup is amazing and the results cannot easily be beaten (if at all) on film.
I do still shoot film for certain things especially when exploring and messing around to create artistic pieces. For this I enjoy working with my trusty F90X, my Mamiya RZ67 Pro II and my collection of vintage cameras.
Who inspires you with your photography?
I would have to say that most of my inspiration comes from my friends and family. They have always all been so supportive of my silly ideas and helped me where they could. I get a lot of positive feedback from clients that I work with and this always excites me. I think there is no better feeling than getting appreciated for your hard work.
Skateboarding, travel and my love for music definitely plays a huge part in my inspiration. I sometimes feel as though I am the biggest most dedicated musician although I have no idea how to play an instrument. I love music and I feel that with my photography I am able to contribute and express my creativity through the shots I take with musicians and bands.
With regards to other photographers, I don’t really aspire to be like anyone else but I enjoy the work of people like Tim Flach, Atiba Jefferson, Platon and Roger Ballen.
What type of photography do you enjoy most?
I would have to say that I prefer when I am allowed to be creative and use my brain. I cannot pinpoint one specific type of photography that I prefer more than another as I try and make the best out of each situation. In the beginning I really enjoyed shooting skateboarding because I was exploring using lighting in different ways to make the images unique. Since then I have used those lighting concepts to shoot band portfolios and artist portraits and it has resulted in some amazing images. I used to shoot a lot of restaurant interiors and food stills and I used to really enjoy having the time on a few scenes to ensure that I can really bring out the clients product as best as possible. If I had to point out my most favourite though, I would have to say that shooting artists / bands is really where my passion lies. I enjoy shooting their live performances, documenting their time in studio, or on the road, and then working closely with them to create images that they can use to promote the time of where they’re at in their career.
Speaking of bands, what music do you listen to?
I have always been open minded about music and am always willing to give everything a chance. I enjoy when lyrics are thought out and being in a band is taken seriously. I feel that music and photography have a close relationship together and both have definitely helped shaped my life and the person I am.
Bands that I am currently really enjoying include Bears Den, Future Islands, White Lies, Zayn, Don Broco, Hot Water Music, Hurts, Young Guns, Pvris, Oh Wonder, Nothing But Thieves, Raleigh Ritchie, Two Door Cinema Club, Eminem, Halsey and Bring Me The Horizon.
Can I hire you for a photography shoot?
Most definitely, that is how I earn my living so I can survive and look after my family. I am currently based between London, England and Johannesburg, South Africa, but I do have an EU passport and am willing to travel as I have done so many times. Please contact me for a quotation or to discuss your idea / requirements in more details.
Will you photograph my wedding?
This is dependent on a bunch of things … I really feel that wedding photography has been done totally incorrectly by a lot of photographers and I cannot force myself to fit into that “cheesy” stigma that I feel exists. I feel that wedding photos should not consist of awkward poses with huge fake smiles as this is not a realistic capture of what is meant to be the most special day of someones life. It needs to be made clear that I am not a wedding photographer but rather a professional photographer with a unique artistic style that can easily shoot photographs of a wedding. The images that I produce will ensure that you have a documentary of your special day and I ensure to make it as easy and least stressful for you as I possibly can. Why not be photographed like a celebrity in a fashion shoot on your wedding day?
Can I purchase images you have already taken?
Yes although this would be dependent on the photograph and what the photograph was taken for. Some of them have exclusive rights and these would not be possible to sell. If you are interested in any of the photographs on this site, or any of my other previous work, then please feel free to contact me and I will see how I can help you. International purchases are handled through PayPal so it is easy for everyone.
Do you enjoy traveling?
I love traveling. I have been to SO many amazing places around the world and really enjoy experiencing the different cultures and lifestyles that each different country has to offer. So far my favourite country that I have visited must be Taiwan. The culture of the Taiwanese people is unlike any other place in the world (that I have been to) and we are always welcomed with open arms. The language difference was insane but this never stops us from having the best time ever.
Are you married?
I am, my beautiful wife Anja and I got married in September 2008 and it was an amazing day. Anja is an amazing part of my life and really my most greatest inspiration.
Do you have any other hobbies / interests?
Skateboarding, free-riding, snowboarding, cycling, traveling, finding a good coffee and walking in parks.
Can I be your assistant?
I get asked this at least once a week and although I would like to help people out, I already have a team that I work with. It is in my best interest to look after them first so that they want to keep working with me so for now I am not looking for anyone, however, feel free to pop me a mail if you feel you have something to offer and I will add you to my database for future opportunities that might pop up.