Photographer Jorina Kriel has been in the photography industry for 7 years as a landscape and wedding photographer, yet she constantly felt somewhat frustrated that her photography always had to take second place. In order to create her own doors of opportunity, Jorina boldly decided to quit her ‘9-to-5’ job December last year. Full of determination, she entered the world of freelance this year as a fashion and food photographer but by no means deserting her passion for landscape photography. Instead she incorporated it into her fashion photographs rather skilfully. However, being a great photographer and going solo for the first time are two different things completely. We asked Jorina to share with us her experiences as a newcomer to freelancing.
IT TAKES BALLS TO QUIT YOUR JOB TO FOLLOW YOUR PASSION. WHAT MADE YOU DO IT? Damn right it takes balls!! I’ve always had ambition to do my own thing and though I wanted to start my own business 4 years ago, I wasn’t mentally or emotionally ready for it. I think things happens at the right time – you just need to be open to it. I’ve learned invaluable things in the past 4 years (and not just about photography) that contributes to my career today. Last year, the lightbulb moment unexpectedly happened. I realized it was time to move on. Time to start a new chapter. And I did it! Looking back now, it was most certainly the best decision I’ve made for my career.
APPARENTLY THE FIRST MONTH OF FREELANCING FEELS LIKE A WELL DESERVED HOLIDAY, SECOND AND THIRD MONTH STILL CHILLED AND THEN THE FOURTH MONTH – COLD SWEAT AND PANIC SETS IN. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST FEW MONTHS LIKE? You are so right! Every month one goes through different emotions. My stressful situations, emotions and cold sweats only started in April… public holidays…and then WINTER! I’ve realised that there is a high and low season like in any other business. Yes, I know it is common knowledge, but believe me, you only start realizing these things when you start your own business. Time management for me was and still is a challenge. It is so incredibly easy to get side tracked (especially when working from home). Other challenges I had to face was the accounting and direct marketing side of the business. The positive side is that you learn much quicker when you are thrown into the deep end. So you learn how to cope with things and everyday becomes a stepping stone. Next year I’ll know how to plan things.
AS A FREELANCER, HOW DO YOU KEEP MOTIVATED, STIMULATED AND INSPIRED? As we all know, the mind is an incredibly powerful thing thus I have to be very careful what I “feed” my mind on a daily basis. I’ve become very aware that I am the only one in charge of creating my own opportunities. As I have studied Hospitality and Catering after school, my love for cooking and experimenting with food will always be there. It is also imperative for me to surround myself with creative and positive people. Food photography shoots with my very talented friend and chef, Olivea Hanekom for instance has become both a learning experience and insanely enjoyable at the same time. We ensure that we do experimental , creative and well organized food shoots on a regular basis. I’ve always been open to new challenges and working as a freelancer, I need to grow in different areas. I remind myself daily that I am working toward something bigger.
IN YOUR OPINION – DO YOU THINK SELF-PROMOTION AND MARKETING HAS BECOME A LOT EASIER COMPARED TO 15 YEARS AGO DUE TO SOCIAL MEDIA OPTIONS? Without a doubt. I reach most of my clients through social media. Although very competitive, it is still crucial for any business to make use of social media as you can reach a target audience both locally and abroad. People see my work on a regular basis through my blogpost, facebook, etc. It increases exposure for your business, decreases marketing expenses and developing loyal fans that will follow your work on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Let’s not forget, one still needs a convincing approach to create business. Direct marketing is still as important as 15 years ago as you need to build relationships with your clients as well as potential clients.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE LEVEL OF WORK PRODUCED BY LOCAL FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHERS CURRENTLY? Unfortunately only but a handful are really inspiring me as practically every Tom, Dick and Harry claims to be a photographer these days because they sport the ‘right’ equipment. However, the handful of local commercial and documentary photographers true to their skill, are indeed producing excellent quality of works. Jodi Bieber, is a local photographer whom I truly admire. How she became part of people’s lives to tell their story. Her work takes a look at the social wars within society and brings awareness to communities. Her book: Between Dogs and Wolves – Growing up in South Africa was a culmination of over ten years work. Two other amazingly talented young photographers whom also caught my eye are Social Documentary Photographer Sipho Mpongo and Fashion Photographer, Cass Collett from ORCUS Photography. It makes me proud when I see local photographers strutting their stuff.
WOULD YOU EVER LEAVE CAPE TOWN TO CONTINUE YOUR FREELANCE CAREER ELSEWHERE? Yes, I would. I have no specific destination in mind however, it will have to be a place where my opportunities are endless and financially it must be worth my while. It doesn’t mean a big house, fancy sports car or a new 15 seater sofa. We must be able to travel, see new places, explore good restaurants, taste great wine and do things that we love! “We”, meaning. I want my husband by my side…he can hold my reflector. With all that being said, Cape Town is where my heart is.
AT WHAT AGE DID YOU REALISE YOUR LOVE/PASSION FOR PHOTOGRAPHY? Since I can remember I had a camera by my side. I was still very young when my dad started buying me ‘mik-en-druk’ (instamatic) cameras. He always demonstrated a deep love for photography and I found myself fascinated with his analogue camera with slides…and with no sound! After high school , I did a work stint in London and that’s when I purchased my very own “fancy” film camera. A very proud moment! After traveling in the UK, Europe and various parts of Africa from 1999 until 2001, I officially became “one” with my camera.
WHAT OR WHOM WOULD YOUR REGARD YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCE IN BECOMING A PHOTOGRAPHER? There are three photographers in particular who were more than just an inspiration to me, they influenced my every decision. Landscape photographer, Ansel Adams for his creative use of light, contrast and composition. Henri Cartier Bresson for his breathtaking, candid street photography and photojournalism. Jurgen Schadeburg who was the chief photographer, picture editor as well as art director for Drum Magazine and started photographing Madiba from 1952. Somehow I believe that through their inspiration, I knew photography would be my career one day. This is my 7th year in the industry…need I say more.
DESCRIBE THE FIRST IMAGE THAT EMOTIONALLY “MOVED” YOU? During a photography course, I was developing photographs in the darkroom with the rest of my class. My teacher selected a photograph that she thought could work very well for the project. It was a photograph of my dad. Although it was very personal, it was and always will, remain one of my personal best and favourite photographs.
BESIDES PHOTOGRAPHY, WHAT COULD YOU NOT IMAGINE LIVING WITHOUT? Well, as mentioned before, travelling, nature, good food, great wine, and my hubby Schalk.