Mike Bell

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Mike Bell (b. 1988)
Johannesburg

What kinds of things do you most enjoy photographing?

Looking at my photographs, it’s portraits on landscape backdrops. I shoot everything, but a picture is better with a person in it (in my opinion). It just has more of a feeling than just a plain landscape. Whether it’s just for scale or whether the individual is adding a certain mood. The female form and femininity have always intrigued me. A female figure can add a softer mood which I enjoy. My photography may even be feminine if I think about.

Describe your photographic style.

I’d love to think it’s heading a fine art route, but realistically it’s just getting more simple – very little to no lighting, and the same with my post post-production. It’s personal. My photography has always been about me and my feelings. I do like to create aesthetically pleasing work but it boils down to my personal attachment to that person, place, moment or feeling.

Photography is a lot about the journey. How has it influenced your personal life and the way in which you view the world (around you)?

Photography has given me a reason to pull over and enjoy the things that I would of just passed by. I don’t think I’d feel or be who I am without it. Anyone I’ve really spent time with has had to endure a camera in their face from time to time. Film is just where I am at at the moment. I started my photography on film with a Nikon F601 and I moved onto digital a few years later, now I’m back to film. Who knows what I’ll feel like tomorrow.

Photography is also about capturing a moment in time. What is your approach to a shot, and your approach to a new body of work?

A moment in time is rarely captured through an eye piece. You need to be present in a moment for it to be a moment for you. Obviously you can capture someone else’s personal moment or their expression on their face depicting their moment, but I often wait for a moment or create one that somehow displays how I am feeling or what I have felt at that point in time.

My mood definitely reflects in my photography, although I rarely enjoy photographs of people smiling. Unfortunately, I don’t to put together projects or new bodies of work – I tend to go somewhere new and just photograph.

Is photography your professional career? Or do you work in another field?

It used to be, but I have fallen onto another path and it’s great. I started off with band photography as a passion and made some cash doing events and corporates when I first started out. I have done a lot between then and now. I run a small cinematography, photography and post-production business called Capitol Collective with a great friend, cinematographer, editor and photographer, Chase Beynon. I have been doing commercial DOP work recently which has been the most exciting avenue and adventure I have taken yet. Photography is now more my personal time thing.

What gear do you shoot with? Specifically camera arsenal and film stock.

I’m a bit of a sucker for Yashica TLR’s, I have a few. The first medium format I shot on was probably a Yashica C and is still one of my favourites. Square is amazing. As far as medium format goes, I’m loving my Mamiya 645, the Mamiya 80mm f2.8 turns backdrops into smooth paintings. It’s a bit big for adventuring but somehow always makes an appearance.

My general purpose SLR has to be the Nikon FM2 and a 35mm. I try to change up as much as possible, though I find my comfort zone with a camera. The same goes for film, I basically shoot on whatever I can get my hands on locally and for cheap. I do like Ilford HP5 and a Portra 400.

Growth is important for any artistic craft. How do you stay motivated and enthusiastic about your work?

I honestly don’t do much, I just like shooting.

I look at photographs all day – the Internet, Instagram and photography books. Trying new cameras and film is always exciting too.

What are your influences? Please list other photographers you look up to or things that generally inspire your image-making process.

There are so many, and so many great local guys; Karabo Mooki, Thomas McWilliam, Ross Maxwell, Ross Garrett, Angela De Klerk, Cale Waddacor, Duran Levinson, Jonno Swart, Bronwyn Gardiner, Jono Wood, Nolan Lister, Jarryd Watson, Mitchell Harper, Russell Grant.

What else do you enjoy? (Hobbies, etc – Any other creative exploits or interests?)

Mostly just the occasional hike and night spent in the car somewhere random with good people.

Any tips for aspiring film photographers?

Keep doing it. You might not love everything you do, but as long as you love doing it.

What lies on the horizon (any plans for series, exhibitions, travels etc)? And what do you hope to achieve in the future?

I have some travels in mind this year, let’s see what happens.

Website: http://www.mikebellphotography.co.za/
Instagram: @mikebellphoto
Blog: http://www.mikebellphotography.blogspot.co.za/
Work: http://www.capitolcollective.co.za/

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All photos by Mike Bell

DEAD TOWN™ | Film-only Photographic Showcase ©2017.

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Legend | Jo Ractliffe

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Jo Ractliffe (b. 1961) is a South African photographer famous for her black and white imagery, often dealing with the theme of conflict. Her new exhibition, Everything is Everything, is vastly different to previous bodies of work, being that the images on display do not form part of a specific series. Instead, various photographs are grouped together to form a sort of retrospective; unseen work from the last 30 years, shot with many different types of cameras, with no specific purpose in mind, except sometimes to only expose a roll of film when there are a few frames left inside.

“Originally I thought I wanted to make a small portfolio, but there was something about this as a body — it was cohesive, intimate and quirky. With a series, a direction will determine itself and some things fall by the way side, not necessary because they’re bad, but because they don’t fit the narrative. There’s a whole discourse around this idea of the cutting room floor – the left out rejects – and often the outtakes are more interesting.”

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While sifting through negative files, Ractliffe noticed everything in between — the work that happened through chance. Using very disparate images, she drew similarities, and constructed a story with more freedom than ever before.

“The idea allowed me to put anything together, but I had to start sparking relationships responding to visual repetitions and connections. I was interested in doing things I don’t usually exhibit. I was interested in looking at people, to discover that I do photograph people and how I photograph people. It is very confessional and I had discovered a sense of humour. You can find all sorts of things in these images depending on who you are and what you are looking for.”

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Overall, the show brings out a lighter and more personal side of Ractliffe that has never been seen before. The content differs, from strange landscapes to more day-to-day experiences, such as watching TV, children playing, and random sightings whilst traveling. One particular shot of a pig at the abattoir had been waiting to be assigned to a body for decades but never fitted in. The size of the photographic prints also vary, and a lot of the work features family members and friends who are dear to her. There’s also a lot less pictures of landscapes.

“I don’t think it’s far off from the other stuff, it makes sense. My work is always produced with a mixture of contingency — I’m not going to put a pic of a leaping dog in the middle of a series of aftermath photos in Angola, even if it happened. This collection is quite liberating in a way, and I think there’s trauma in this work as well actually. There is a thread that runs through that speaks to my last year and a half if you’re looking for it.”

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Coincidentally, the work is between two broken backs as images span from 1985 to present day, in a mix of colour and black & white. The exhibition is currently on display at Stevenson Gallery in Johannesburg until June 30th. A book has also been published and is available through the gallery.

Website: http://www.stevenson.info/artist/jo-ractliffe

Previous books by Jo Ractliffe include:

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All photos by Jo Ractliffe, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery
Exhibition photos and text by Cale Waddacor

DEAD TOWN™ | Film-only Photographic Showcase ©2017.

Angus MacKinnon

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Angus MacKinnon (b. 1991)
Johannesburg

What kinds of things do you most enjoy photographing?

I think anything can be photographed well, its just a matter of looking properly before you expose, or just being quick enough to snap before its gone! Personally, I really enjoy roaming the streets and trying to catch the energy of a space. I’m often drawn to people and objects, the relationships that we create between things and the way that we occupy our spaces.

Describe your photographic style.

Curating the chaos.

Photography is a lot about the journey. How has it influenced your personal life and the way in which you view the world (around you)?

Man, photography has really changed the way that I look at everything. From the way that light comes through the window in the morning, to closing one eye in order to create depth of field in my vision. I always imagined that one day there might be a contact lens that could take pictures when you blinked – and now they’re nearly here!

Photography is also a great partner for adventure. That cheesy phrase of “a camera is a passport to everywhere” is really apt – I’ve found myself in truly bizarre situations just because I’m on a hunt to make some pictures.

Photography is also about capturing a moment in time. What is your approach to a shot, and your approach to a new body of work?

As much as it is about capturing a moment, I think it’s also about creating a moment. Often when I look at my images after shooting they evoke a very different atmosphere to my experience when I was actually there, particularly street work.

My approaches differ widely depending on what project I’m working on – sometimes I’m working slowly, from a very considered point of view and shooting with an outcome in mind, while other times I’m just roaming and firing off at whatever grabs my attention. I think that both have their value.

Approaching a new body of work is always interesting because you never end up where you thought you would when you started it – that’s become the really intriguing part in my mind. I used to think that the best way to go about it was to plan everything and then execute it, but I’ve come to appreciate the process and give work the space to grow where it wants to and needs to.

Is photography your professional career? Or do you work in another field?

Yes and no. It’s one of my key income streams, but not my only one. I’m a visual artist with fingers in many pies.

What gear do you shoot with? Specifically camera arsenal and film stock.

I almost always have an Olympus Stylus/MJU on me. They produce amazing images, are seriously rugged and very reliable. I’m a big fan of compact point and shoots, so I’ve been through many.

My favourite camera to date was definitely a Yashica T4, but unfortunately it’s given in now and due to the recent film revival, the prices are heavily inflated online (if anyone knows where I can fix mine, please shout!). I also have two Mamiya medium format systems, an RZ67 and a 645 Pro II.

I shoot Fujifilm cameras on the pixel side – they really behave like film cameras but, uhm, they aren’t.

Growth is important for any artistic craft. How do you stay motivated and enthusiastic about your work?

By working on many projects at the same time, I leave something alone for a while when I feel like it’s stagnant and return to it with a fresh approach later on. Another thing that really motivates me is seeing my friends and counterparts doing their shit WELL – there’s nothing more inspiring than seeing a well polished, powerful piece of art and knowing how much work someone put into it. This can be in the form of music, art, business, anything that people are doing independently and with their heart.

What are your influences? Please list other photographers you look up to or things that generally inspire your image-making process.

Thabiso Sekgala, Sifiso Temba, Jason Larkin, Martin Parr and Edward Nightingale. The moving image has also been pretty influential lately, I’m becoming more and more interested in film and the power it harnesses for story telling.

What else do you enjoy? (Hobbies, etc – Any other creative exploits or interests?)

Travel, painting, tattooing, skateboarding, hiking, napping, meme-ing and catching on kak.

Any tips for aspiring film photographers?

Just keep on shooting, be prepared to spend a lot of money and miss until you hit.

What lies on the horizon (any plans for series, exhibitions, travels etc)? And what do you hope to achieve in the future?

Always! I have a project called ‘BOLO’ which I’ve been working on for about 6 or 7 months that is in the final stages and will be exhibited at the Market Photo Workshop in Joburg. Travels will ensue after that is wrapped up. I just want to keep moving, that’s the main long-term goal.

Website: http://www.angusmackinnon.co.za/
Instagram: @mackmangus

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All photos by Angus MacKinnon

DEAD TOWN™ | Film-only Photographic Showcase ©2017.

Frans Borman

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Frans Borman (b.1975, Mokopane/Potgietersrus)
Johannesburg

What kinds of things do you most enjoy photographing?

To be honest, I don’t feel it’s up to me. It’s more of a pull of some kind. Something or someone draws me and I can’t resist. At the moment I am exploring portrait photography, but I guess I’ll always be into shooting small towns and anything on the fringes – I was into graveyards at a stage, and will always love the Karoo.

Describe your photographic style.

It’s quite natural. I simply want to be a channel. There is little or no pre-production, except with portraits.

The right setting is quite important. Only use flash if really needed. When shooting film I almost never do anything in post.

Photography is a lot about the journey. How has it influenced your personal life and the way in which you view the world (around you)?

Photography has opened me up. And keeps on doing so. The more I look, the more I want to see. Photography has instilled a reverence for life around and inside me. Photography has taught me it’s ok to make mistakes. Photography has encouraged me to follow my intuition.

Photography is also about capturing a moment in time. What is your approach to a shot, and your approach to a new body of work?

There are no rules. Sometimes I have to be patient. That shot will come again. Other times, I have to act quick, follow my gut, and act on that hunch. Otherwise I’ll miss it.

Is photography your professional career? Or do you work in another field?

I shoot, direct and/or edit video full-time. Photography has always been a hobby, but after 13 years it’s starting to become a little something on the side.

What gear do you shoot with? Specifically camera arsenal and film stock.

There have been many test drives. From SLR and Lomography to Medium Format. Currently, I’m bonding with a Nikkormat 35mm. There is a black and white Kodak 80 ISO film in my Olympus Trip35. And then a Fuji Superia 200 or 400 inside a Zeiss Contaflex from the 50s. Stock wise, I prefer the cooler tones of Fujifilm – I find Kodak too red/yellow/orange.

Growth is important for any artistic craft. How do you stay motivated and enthusiastic about your work?

What are you afraid of? What don’t you understand? What intrigues you? What do you find beautiful? What gives you joy? I ask myself these questions – intuitively of course. And then wait for opportunities to arise.

What are your influences? Please list other photographers you look up to or things that generally inspire your image-making process.

The polaroid images of Andrei Tarkovsky from the 70s are quite sublime, mystical and inspirational. If my images could somehow evoke the same feeling I get when looking at those my tail would be wagging.

What else do you enjoy? (Hobbies, etc – Any other creative exploits or interests?)

I love my motherland. Any chance I get to hit the road I go.

Making music. Being creative.

Any tips for aspiring film photographers?

Bunjiiii

What lies on the horizon (any plans for series, exhibitions, travels etc)? And what do you hope to achieve in the future?

Hopefully my first solo exhibition this year.

Instagram: @fransendental_meditation
Website: http://fransborman.withtank.com/

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All photos by Frans Borman

DEAD TOWN™ | Film-only Photographic Showcase ©2017.

Touch | 001

TOUCH | a new category that will focus on photo books and zines.

Among all the great South African art, design and illustration books lie many excellent photographic publications. Nothing better than seeing images in print.

Here is a small selection. Regrettably, some may no longer be available.

Crossing Strangers by Andile Buka (2015)

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Crossing Strangers marks Johannesburg based photographer Andile Buka‘s first published body of work. The photo book explores the landscape of Johannesburg, the people who both inhabit and fill its city streets. It is a visual reflection of a personal engagement with both the city’s past and current landscape portrayed through the individual encounters one experiences.

Walking the streets of Johannesburg plays a central role in this project. Through these walks I’m presented with spaces that are unfamiliar and unnoticed. Beauty in the mundane is often overlooked and I gravitate towards the people, spaces and the gaps which are left in-between. Johannesburg is full of contradictions, a landscape structured by its past, but continuously built towards it’s future. It is a city interconnected and dependent on its many layers, a place where success, dreams and aspirations can become a reality.” – Andile Buka

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Size: B5
Pages: 52 (25 B&W photographs)
Binding: Hardcover
Publication date: August 2015
Printed and bound in Japan

Shot on film. Includes an essay by Rangoato Hlasane (Co-Founder of Keleketla Media Arts Project) titled ‘Monuments To The Eternal Spaces‘. The book was launched at the Tokyo International Book Fair in Japan.

http://mnkpress.tictail.com/product/crossing-strangers

Towaways by Lani Spice (Series)

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Towaways is a series of group photography zines curated by Lani Spice. Featuring images by some amazing, young local photographers and artists. Partnering up with RVCA South Africa, each edition has a launch with an exhibition and party in Cape Town.

Towaways (2014)

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Featured photographers: Donovyn Le Roux, Leon Bester, Black Koki, Ello Xray Eyez, Melissa Williams, Laura Windvogel, Danielle Clough, John Second, Thys Lotter, Dewald Bruwer, JJ (Jess James) Harris, Andrew Turpin and Lani Spice.

Guest artists at the exhibition: Anke Loots, Adriaan Louw, Justin Poulter, Alexia Webster, Kent Lingenveld, Juliette Raymer, Pauline Raymer, Natalie Pereira, Michael Tymbios, Thomas Pepler, Clinton Theron, Lyndall Maunder and more.

Towaways: Boy Edition (2014)

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Featured photographers: Justin Poulter, Thomas Pepler, Kent Andreasen

Guest artists at the exhibition: Leon Bester, Clinton Theron, Adriaan Louw, Donovyn Le Roux, Jay Dymock.

Towaways: Girls Edition (2015)

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Featured photographers: Anke Loots, Caroline Mackintosh, Melissa Williams.

https://towaways.tumblr.com/

Art Wurld by Russell Grant (2013)

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While looking for an outlet for his photography projects, Durban’s Russell Grant came up with the name Art Wurld for self-published zines. The first issue features work shot on disposable cameras at Splashy Fen Festival in the Underberg, with contributions by Bob Perfect and Skullboy.

More recently, Russell released another photographic zine titled ‘Therapy‘ (2016) shot entirely on his cellphone. “Think of it as a self help book for the dark hearted and chronically depressed.

http://artwurld.tumblr.com/

Got zines? We’d love to feature them.

DEAD TOWN™ | Film-only Photographic Showcase ©2017.

Gideon de Kock

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Gideon de Kock (b. 1988, Cape Town)
Currently based in Hong Kong

What kinds of things do you most enjoy photographing?

People, moments, and environmental objects that look like they belong in an art gallery.

Describe your photographic style.

I guess it’s more documentary. I want to capture something truthful and honest – not some heightened, altered or more beautiful form of reality – when shooting. I shy away from influencing my subject in any way, shape, or form, so I’ve got to be on my toes. I used to love getting up close and personal to my subjects when I started shooting film, but lately have opted to take a few more steps back to consider my background a bit more.

Photography is a lot about the journey. How has it influenced your personal life and the way in which you view the world (around you)?

I’ve always enjoyed my time alone, whether it is to walk, think or explore new parts of a place I’ve never been. Photography became a natural and fitting addition to this. I’ve always romanticized the little things, the things that stand out to me, only now I get to take a photos of them.

Photography is also about capturing a moment in time. What is your approach to a
shot, and your approach to a new body of work?

I don’t have a specific approach due to all the variables the streets throw at me. However, I’m on a fully manual setup (except for the light meter) so I’ll start by deciding on the appropriate exposure and shutter speeds. After that I’ll pre-focus to a distance I think I’ll use and take it from there. My approach is very malleable because I’m constantly moving when shooting.

Is photography your professional career? Or do you work in another field?

It’s not my professional career. I used to be a full time teacher but am now working part time to pursue both photography and sound. Looking forward to see what happens next!

What is it like to shoot in Asia (especially Hong Kong) in comparison to SA?

I honestly haven’t shot much in South Africa, but I’d say the major difference is how dynamic Asia is. Hong Kong, in particular, is such a visual feast that it’s sometimes overwhelming. Your shots can easily be too busy if you’re not careful. People tend to be quite passive here, so it’s easy to get an unwanted portrait or two if you’re quick enough (before they shoo you away). Another big difference is how safe it is. I can shoot almost anywhere at any time without worries. It is a wonderful feeling.

What gear do you shoot with? Specifically camera arsenal and film stock.

I now almost exclusively shoot with a Leica M6 carrying a Carl Zeiss C Biogon 2.8 / 35mm lens. I love this focal length because I really have to get involved and get in people’s faces to capture my shots. In my back pocket I have my Nikon L35 AD2 and Olympus MJUII point and shoot cameras.

For the past few months I’ve only shot my colour on Agfa Vista 200 Plus, and for black and white, a roll of Tri-X 400 (pushed to 800). Lately I’ve been experimenting with some other film stock as it seems Hong Kong is running short of my beloved Agfa Vista 200 Plus.

Growth is important for any artistic craft. How do you stay motivated and enthusiastic about your work?

Like any artistic endeavor it’s an ebb and flow. Every now and then I’ll shoot a truly terrible roll and will become really discouraged. I find taking a step back, leaving my camera at home (which I always find regretful actually) and dropping what preconceptions I had of myself, helps. This tends to get me to imagine and see the world just a little differently. Just enough to reignite the urge to go out and shoot. I’m involved in many different artistic outlets and they all end up inspiring and motivating each other.

What are your influences? Please list other photographers you look up to or things that generally inspire your image-making process.

My main photography influencers are basically all my peers. I’ve only been shooting for about 18 months so I’m not incredibly familiar with all the greats. Vivian Maier and Bruce Gilden are standouts for me though. I think I shy away from influence because photography is still quite new to me, and thus, I still treat it quite romantically. I want to carve my own visual identity free from outside influence. I want to make mistakes and I want to work through them in my own time. Influencers may come, but right now I’m a selfish photographer who’s shooting for himself.

Now that I think about it, my main photographic influences are all from primarily hobbyist photographers. Artists, musicians and designers with cameras. I like how they see the world as opposed to learned photographers.

What else do you enjoy? (Hobbies, etc – Any other creative exploits or interests?)

My first love and greatest passion will always be music. I’ve been performing since my early teens and it’s always been my sincerest form of expression I think. I’m playing guitar and writing for a punk/hardcore band, and then playing bass in another more rhythm and groove orientated project at the moment. I often write words, lyrics and poetry, and I think I’m going to try fuel this side a bit more moving forward. Perhaps pair some poetry and images at a gallery show. Who knows?

Any tips for aspiring film photographers?

Pick up a cheap point and shoot camera, buy cheap expired film and just go shoot. Carry your camera on you at all times. Be brave. Read your subjects and get in people’s faces if that’s what it’s going to take. You’ll be blown away by how quickly you’ll improve shooting every day. Most importantly – if you’re in a part of the world that allows – grab a road beer, a friend, and explore. Have fun.

What lies on the horizon (any plans for series, exhibitions, travels etc)? And what do you hope to achieve in the future?

About a year ago, myself and two good friends/photographers released our first photography zine/book called BACKCHAT BOYS. Volume 2 is on the horizon and features six fantastic photographers featuring work shot in various parts of Asia. It’s predominantly a street photography showcase so look out for that!

I would love to make my way back to mainland China and Japan this year, and I’m also heading back to Cape Town and Namibia for a while in October which I’m really looking forward to.

I’ve just launched my online store (http://galleryalley.bigcartel.com/) where I’ll be selling prints as regularly as possible.

Website: http://www.gideondekock.com/
Instagram: @gideondk1

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All photos by Gideon de Kock

DEAD TOWN™ | Film-only Photographic Showcase ©2017.

Emile Kotze

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Emile Kotze (b. 1985, Vanderbijlpark, 100 km south of Johannesburg)
Currently in Stellenbosch, Western Cape

What kinds of things do you most enjoy photographing?

I can’t say that I have a preference, it’s all really the same to me.

Describe your photographic style.

It’s mostly just allowing something to present itself and photographing it with a sense of equanimity.

Photography is a lot about the journey. How has it influenced your personal life
and the way in which you view the world (around you)?

Photography allows me to be simultaneously detached from and involved in my own “life-world” (and, to an extent, that of others). This fascinates and also baffles me.

Photography is also about capturing a moment in time. What is your approach to a
shot, and your approach to a new body of work?

As I’ve mentioned, it’s allowing a moment to present itself to you, taking the picture and moving on. In reality, I am constantly at arms length with everything; perpetually observing and in transit. As for projects, I constantly have new ideas which I write down. I revisit these ideas every now and again until something feels right and ultimately works for me.

Is photography your professional career? Or do you work in another field?

I guess it was supposed to be, but never really worked out that way. I completed a postgraduate degree in photography in 2008, focusing on personal work instead of the commercial side. I think it was somewhere in 2009 that my only camera was stolen and that was it for me. It wasn’t until 2015 that I really started taking photographs again.

What gear do you shoot with? Specifically camera arsenal and film stock.

I shoot with compact 35mm range finders and colour film. I reckon my most recent camera, a Voigtlander Bessa-L with 50mm lens and some affordable colour film, will be the way forward for years to come. I also just bought an old Instax Wide 100 camera and will see where that goes.

Growth is important for any artistic craft. How do you stay motivated and
enthusiastic about your work?

I just go out and keep making photographs. Not much else to it really.

What are your influences? Please list other photographers you look up to or
things that generally inspire your image-making process.

William Eggleston (almost the only one that really matters), Christian Patterson, Lien Botha and Jason Fulford. I keep going back to Eggleston’s books though.

What else do you enjoy? (Hobbies, etc – Any other creative exploits or interests?)

I have always loved books, print and the idea of indie or self publishing. I currently have plans to pursue something along these lines.

Tell me about your self-published photo-book, The Southern Wild.

The Southern Wild‘ is a project that I never really planned. I just started photographing again about two years ago and the book is what I have to show. It’s basically an exploration of the strange, found within the familiar South African landscape.

Any tips for aspiring film photographers?

Shoot what you like, and try to take a photograph every day.

What lies on the horizon (any plans for series, exhibitions, travels etc)?
And what do you hope to achieve in the future?

No specific plans. An exhibition and book launch for ‘The Southern Wild’ would be great, and I’m hoping to make it happen soon. Other than that, just keep promoting the new book and continue to work on and release a few smaller projects during 2017.

Website: http://www.emilekotze.co.za/
Instagram: @mieliemile

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Purchase the new book, ‘The Southern WildHERE.

 

All photos by Emile Kotze

DEAD TOWN™ | Film-only Photographic Showcase ©2017.