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.
Q&A with PIERRE VAN DER SPUY compiled by LIZAR VAN REENEN
Nobody could do the “Blue Steel” look better than extreme sports photographer Pierre van der Spuy! That was my immediate thought upon meeting this down-to-earth silver bearded man a few years ago. Soon after, I learnt that Pierre was no ordinary sports photographer – he is an explorer of note with a keen eye for detail and constantly in search of an adventurous expedition. I chatted to Pierre to find out a bit more about his photography experience behind the adrenalin pumping scenes.
YOU ARE THE OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPHER FOR THE SOUTH AFRICAN GRAVITY RACING ASSOCIATION (SAGRA). HOW DID YOU INITIALLY GET INVOLVED WITH THE DOWNHILL SKATEBOARDING CULTURE? I started photographing downhill skateboarding in 2008. After seeing an ad for the Hot Heels Africa Championship, and remembering the Red Bull Kloofnek races from earlier years, I packed my camera and headed out to Kogelberg for the race. At the time I had no connection with SAGRA or any riders. I only went there because I thought it would make for some epic images to start adding to my small portfolio at the time. For the first 2 years I just turned up at the races and then tried to sell the photos after the event. In 2011 SAGRA was restructured and they approached me to be their official photographer.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL WORK DAY ENTAIL WHEN SHOOTING A DOWNHILL EXTREME SKATEBOARDING COMPETITION? It starts the day before the race doing all the normal pre-prod tasks like charging batteries for the camera, speedlights, Pocket Wizards, digital set-up, cleaning lenses and checking other gear such as light stands, tripods and clamps. If however, it is a multi-day event, camping gear and the likes need to be packed and sorted. Buying snacks to eat while shooting, because once the racing starts there’s not much time to leave the track. When I arrive at the race the first thing I do is find parking that is convenient for quick access to do downloads and change gear. Before the racing starts I walk the track to familiarise myself with the course, the angles and lens distances. During this walk I plan the day’s shoot in my head. Where I will be at what specific time not to miss important stages. Things happen very quickly with downhill racing and there is very little time to frame and plan shots once the action starts. I try to capture a wide selection of images that visually captures the event, race, culture, intensity and extreme nature of the sport. The working environment is pretty harsh as is the case with most outdoor photography. You have to deal with wind, dust, sun, rain and deliver the best images possible.
WITH THE RIDERS GOING AT SUCH INSANE SPEEDS, DO YOU EVER WORRY ABOUT GETTING IN THEIR WAY? The photography is physically demanding and involves a fair amount of walking, dodging riders as they lose control and hit the hay bales, carrying equipment up and down the hill. If you want to get magic shots you need to position yourself in interesting and sometimes precarious locations. I have lost a fair amount of equipment from either flying boards or riders leaving the asphalt at insane speeds. You have to be alert and ready to move. The sport is extremely fast and when riders fly around the corners at speeds approaching 80km/h, you stand the chance of losing more than your dignity.
HAVE SEEN YOUR DOWNHILL SKATEBOARDING IMAGES FROM A FEW YEARS BACK YET YOUR MORE RECENT PHOTOGRAPHS LOOKS SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENT. WHAT CHANGED? To set myself apart from all the other photographers capturing the races, I have spent time (and obviously money) to develop my own signature style. It involves off-camera strobe flashes, remotely triggered, and light set-ups and angles that I have developed specifically for the different tracks. I didn’t start that way. First it was only a camera and lenses. Now I carry a much larger arsenal of equipment. It makes the task more complicated and involved, but the results are obvious and it was this effort and attention to detail that opened the door to becoming the official photographer for the gravity association. I believe it’s important to find a niche, a speciality, and get really good. The sport of downhill skateboarding is growing at a phenomenal pace with new events/races being organised all over the country. I really hope to be photographing international races in the near future, specifically the ones in the Alps and Canada. The appointment as the official SAGRA photographer is already a step closer to this goal.
AT WHICH POINT IN YOUR LIFE DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY ? It was while working for an outdoor/sport clothing manufacturer photographing the clothing and sports related to the apparel they manufactured. This led photographing other sport equipment and profiling athletes for specific brands. I have always been drawn to extreme sports and photographing athletes at the top of their game has always been something I enjoyed. Freezing a moment that can’t be seen with the human eye, capturing a split second in time, being at the right place at the right time, those are all elements that have kept me involved with extreme sport photography. You have to really enjoy it because it’s not easy work.
BELIEVE YOU LIVED IN THE CARIBBEAN FOR A BIT. WHAT WERE YOU DOING THERE? In 2010 I was offered a job at a photographic agency in the British Virgin Islands to photograph yachts under sail in a variety of scenarios. I covered international regattas, private yachts and general water sports at the resort such as wind surfing, kite boarding and hobie cats. I had to quickly learn to balance and shoot from a 13ft inflatable while with the other hand throttling and steering the 20hp Yamaha outboard. It took at least 2 months before I felt confident on this fluid environment as well as the quality of images. Photographing when everything is constantly on the move, makes framing the subject challenging and staying on the boat is priority number one. I spent a year on the island of Virgin Gorda, honing my photographic and free-diving skills. Why did I ever leave?
YOU DID A LAKE MALAWI EXPEDITION IN A KAYAK OVER 101 DAYS. WHAT WAS THE INITIAL REASON FOR DOING THIS EXPEDITION? In 2004 Ravi Gajjar and myself wanted to do something no one has done before, including ourselves. An unsupported expedition in single kayaks, packed with food, tents and hope. The reason was the challenge, the fun, the travel, the unknown and an adventure like no other . We became the first people to completely circumnavigate Lake Malawi with kayaks. It was a journey of 1300km (101 days) that combined all the aspects of a true adventure. Naturally this type of expedition is not without hardship and we had our fair share of headaches and hurdles . The experience however changed us both forever. Having a life reference such as this has been a type of measuring tape for challenges and it has been essential in building a career in photography, especially as a freelancer where certain character traits are very handy. I believe the Malawi expedition definitely shaped, formed and strengthened these.
WITH EXPEDITIONS, ADVENTURE AND SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY ASIDE, WHAT OTHER PROJECTS DO YOU OCCUPY YOURSELF WITH? I document artists’ work and enjoy the challenge to make the artist appreciate his/her work in a new light. My favourite work to this point has been the botanical sculptures created by Nic Bladen. Together with my partner, Teresa Fischer (writer), we produce magazine articles which usually involve travel or destination specific work. Our most recent article features in the next issue of go!Platteland. Reportage photography is something I’m still working on and will continue to refine my style and approach to this genre. I would love to publish an essay in National Geo or Intelligent Life as I have a few special projects in mind. And finally, last year I started a new project doing animal portraiture in a very specific style. The lighting is extremely subtle and modelled on the techniques of the revered painters. Think Rembrandt, dark and moody, with light brushing the surface of the subject. The portraits are true representations of the animal, not cute or lovable portraits, but in this honesty lies the magic. It aims to document the animal in true size, proportion and texture and serves as a type of artistic archive.
AN EXPEDITION PHOTOGRAPHER; EXTREME SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHER OR A COMMERCIAL STUDIO SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHER. IF YOU COULD CHOOSE ONLY ONE, WHICH ONE WILL IT BE? As explained, all these avenues of photography have shaped how I view photography and how I capture images. In reality I wouldn’t want to wave goodbye to any of these. But if I had to choose only one of the above mentioned, I would have to follow my passion for travel and exploration…. expedition photographer thanks. At most, I enjoy spending days in nature, capturing landscapes and creating panoramics. I think it’s more the space I seek with this type of photography rather than the end product. Backpack, tripod and time.
Q&A with MARC HOBERMAN compiled by Lizar van Reenen
Born with photography in his blood and unlike most children, he spent his time travelling around the world on photographic journeys with his father. He published his first book …at the ‘ripe old’ age of 12 – which was inducted into the Smithsonian permanent collection. By the time he reached 18 years old, he had several successful publications under his belt. Then again, from age 5, he started viewing the world very differently, already. It was when he received his first set of Leica’s. What an unusual childhood? I suppose, not so unusual if you are the youngest son of a renowned travel photographer, Gerald Hoberman also known as the “Indiana Jones of Photography”. How did this adventurous childhood turn out in the end? Today, Marc Hoberman is known as a world-renowned photographer within his own right, a designer, an author and the owner of HOBERMAN Photographic Publishers.
DURING YOUR TEENAGE YEARS, DID YOU EVER WISH YOU LIVED A ‘NORMAL TEENAGE LIFE’? DO YOU REGARD YOUR ADULT LIFE TO BE ‘NORMAL’? Not so much during my teenage years, but as an adult my bucket list is kind of upside down. Last week I returned from New York, it was my dream to hang out with my wife and friends sans camera, take a $10 bus tour and try out burgers. As a teenager I flew for 8 hours in a helicopter over Manhattan, had a private tour of the NYSE, met the mayor, photographed backstage at Broadway shows etc. It was all great but a lot of lonely work at the same time so now I’m trying to catch up on the “normal” stuff.
HAVING THE HOBERMAN SURNAME, WAS IT DIFFICULT ESTABLISHING YOURSELF AS A PHOTOGRAPHER WITHIN YOUR OWN RIGHT AND WITH YOUR OWN STYLE? My father did everything he could for that not to happen but it was definitely a challenge. Specifically in South Africa, his name often found its way onto my work (our travel/wildlife photography style is very similar). I moved to London and focused on international destinations, other industries (fashion, Hollywood etc) where I could find my own thing, and I did so now I’m back and happy being a Hoberman!
WITH YOUR FATHER’S RECENT PASSING, IS THERE ANY PRESSURE TO FILL HIS ‘INDIANA JONES ’ SHOES? There’s a lot of pressure from myself, wanting to keep the dream alive. My father had a legendary amount of energy and I’m not sure I could ever replicate that although I do try!
IT’S BEEN SAID THAT THE HOBERMAN COLLECTION THAT WAS STARTED IN 1999 IS: “A PUBLISHING COMPANY LIKE NO OTHER”. The Hoberman Collection was started as a “hobby” which gave us the freedom to produce photography and books how we really wanted to. Although today it is very much a business, we still produce books first and then follow with the business side. My accountant doesn’t like it but it does make our products special or at least made with heart.
IS IT TRUE THAT YOUR PHOTOSTOCK LIBRARY CONSISTS OF MORE THAN 10 000 IMAGES? HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO CAREFULLY SELECT THE IMAGES FOR THE LIBRARY? Our library is the fastest-growing side of our business and although not advertised we’ve recently passed the 20 000 mark. Producing the photostock collection has been a giant exercise is masochism, I’ve selected, retouched and keyworded almost all of it over many years of evenings and weekends (the image yield is probably 5% of what we’ve actually taken) – but it is super exciting to see where stock images end up. We’ve sold stock to Time Magazine, National Geographic, Vanity Fair etc. Biggest sale to date – a Voortrekker monument photo to an airline office in Mexico!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS VARY FROM LANDSCAPES, TO FOOD, TO FASHION, ARCHITECTURE, WILDLIFE, ETC. UNLIKE MOST PHOTOGRAPHERS, YOU DON’T SEEM TO SPECIALISE IN ANY PARTICULAR GENRE OF PHOTOGRAPHY. WHY IS THAT? My father would always get upset when he was branded a “landscape photographer” or a “wildlife” photographer, to me it looked like a compliment but to him it was a limiting label. He believed in specializing (he began his professional career as a “fine art numismatic photographer” so that’s pretty much as specialized as it gets!) but he didn’t believe in specializing for too long. I was brought up in that school and I’m so grateful for it – photography is such fun and there’s so much adventure to be had. Once you’ve taken up a new genre challenge, enjoy it, master it and then use it to jump into the next adventure. I became the official photographer for BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television) by showing my wildlife photography!
THE STELLA’S SEPHARDIC COOKBOOK HAS BEEN AND STILL IS A HUGE SUCCESS. HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO SHOOT/ACCUMULATE ALL THE IMAGES. WHAT WAS AN AVERAGE WORK DAY LIKE? The production for “Stella’s Sephardic Table” took almost three years to complete – it was a very interesting but big subject to tackle and to tell the story properly we photographed in Harare (at the author’s home), as well as Cape Town, Rhodes Island and New York. The food photography was mainly photographed at the author’s beautiful home with natural light, and with us both being perfectionists we did 14-hours-a-day 10 days stretches at a time to get the pictures just right – not for the faint-hearted…but I sure got well-fed!
A JAPANESE POP STAR SINGING ON HOT NAMIBIAN DUNES. A LION CUB DEVOURING A HOME COOKED MEAL. A PLUMP SWEET OLD LADY PROUDLY POSING WITH HER GIGANTIC FISH. WHO COMES UP THESE IDEAS? YOU OR THE CLIENT? I’m not particularly good with coming up with ideas before a shoot so I leave things to present themselves. It’s not the most responsible way to work but I find it so much more exciting and rewarding to let things unfold on the spur of the moment. Magic set up and magic happening look very different!
YOU’VE RECENTLY BEEN COMMISSIONED TO PHOTOGRAPH THE DERELICT INTERIORS OF THE HISTORIC V&A SITES. TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE PHOTOGRAPHING ‘TRACES OF OUR HISTORY’? This was an absolute dream job – The V&A Waterfront are developing the Silo buildings near the clock tower and I was commissioned to produce an art shoot of the abandoned, rusting, cobwebbed, eerie interior, filled with turn-of-the-century machinery, peeling walls, deceased pigeons and streaming light…and all to be removed and cleaned up after the shoot! I spent 18 hours wandering around inside on my own, photographing almost 2 000 images and smiling a lot. What excited me most was shooting details of the walls which resembled fascinating abstract art – flaking coats of paint, oil splatters, hand-written notes, even 100 years of Pollock-inspired pigeon poop! We had to choose a small selection for a permanent exhibition at No2 Silo (the adjacent development) which was a heart-breaking selection. I hope to be able to showcase the rest somewhere soon.
YOU’VE HAD MANY PUBLICATIONS OVER THE YEARS. WHICH TO DATE WOULD YOU REGARD AS YOUR MOST SUCCESSFUL PUBLICATION AND WHY? I’d say that “Namibia” has been our most successful all-round publication in terms of both sales and producing memorable images. A newspaper once attributed Namibia’s most famous dune (Dune 45) to “the Dune that Gerald Hoberman made famous” – which is of course totally untrue but it shows how strongly people can associate with pictures. A few months ago I published a completely new version of our original book which I’m very proud of and was honoured to have a foreword by the President of Namibia.
WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE PHOTOGRAPHY ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED FROM YOUR FATHER? My father showed his advice more than speaking it, and the advice was, as I put it “dogged, bloody single mindedness” (sometimes he’d say “foo-oocus” in a Mr Miyagi voice!) When the camera was in his hands he would switch off his usual mild manners, lose his shyness, throw out the concept of time, muster up the energy of a teenager and let nothing or no-one get in his way of “the shot”. I can’t believe some of the brave (ridiculous) things that I do when I’m looking through the viewfinder but it is this exhilarating escapism that is the gift of photography!
VIEW MORE OF MARC HOBERMAN’S WORK AT www.hobermancollection.com
view our website www.capeclick for more on our photo tours and walks