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.
All photos by Gideon de Kock
DEAD TOWN™ | Film-only Photographic Showcase ©2017.