CJ Chandler

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CJ Chandler (b. 1992)
Grahamstown, South Africa. Currently based in Germany.

What kinds of things do you most enjoy photographing?

Light, colour and composition are important and I like to shoot for a project: that is, with a concept in mind. Interacting with people can be both challenging and rewarding, and I enjoy making portraits – there’s an interesting exchange that occurs. I try not to limit myself to a ‘thing’ as I find that sometimes the most banal objects can make a great photograph.

Describe your photographic style.

My attempt to avoid limitations links to my style, which relates to the concept of each project. I prefer to shoot outside the studio and engage with the real world. In doing so I open myself up to many more stimuli, which can become overwhelming. So in a way, my style has to do with the way I’m thinking about the work. My recent project, the twist of a knee, has a lot to do with details: the images are abstracted fragments of reality.

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 moved to Cape Town for my undergrad and am currently in Germany, due to start working towards a masters. Studying a fine art degree focussed on photography certainly changed the way I see. Not only technically, but also in a way that allows me to investigate the power imbalances and problems of societal structure. Both photography and movement have positively changed the way I think, see and interact with the world. When looking for or making images, I feel more engaged.

I’ve relocated to follow projects and/or opportunities. This movement allows for a change in perspective and definitely has had and will have an affect on my personal life. This can be strenuous, but my family and friends have been incredibly supportive. For the twist of a knee I moved back to Grahamstown, my childhood home. The work exists because of the perspective I have gained over the years: because of the way learning and thinking about art and photography has changed the way I see the world. The result is a stumbling, uncomfortable journey through a place that is both foreign and familiar.

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

Again, this depends on the project. I believe patience is important and that less is more. I like to put myself into a situation and see what happens. Often the shot is not planned, but the result of my presence in that moment. Other times I’ll spend hours in a place or with people and get nothing. I’ve also walked past a scene and thought “damn, that’s good!” but by the time my camera is out I’m past the question of whether or not the shot is worth the film, the moment has passed and the light has changed. It has to feel right.

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

Photography is certainly my focus for now: both in practice and research.

Tell me about your upcoming photobook, the twist of a knee.

I was the Tierney Fellow for Michaelis for 2017/18 and made this work for the fellowship, after thinking about it for some time. The catalogue text reads as follows:

“It was with a sense of dislocation after completing my undergraduate at Michaelis that I decided to make a project based in Grahamstown, where I was born. I had wondered about the role of photography in South Africa and my place in the discourse. With the move home I became interested in the mundanity of the everyday routine, chance interactions, processes, labour and cycles.”

“My intention was to make photographs for a book geographically focused on this town: a place of significant socio-political contrast and harsh light. The result is a fractured yet intimate journey. Detailed evidence of everyday encounters is present yet the book is intentionally devoid of signifiers of time and space. It is, ultimately, both familiar and uncomfortable.”

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

Recently I’ve been using my Mamiya M645 and 1000s. While traveling I’m shooting on an Olympus Trip 35. Film stock: Kodak Portra and Ilford HP5 plus, for now.

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

Staying motivated can be tough. Researching the work of other artists; be that in books, online or in the flesh, is vital to my practice. I’m lucky to have had the privilege of travel and I base a lot of my movement around gallery shows, shooting and family/friends. Moving around keeps me thinking and looking with a fresh eye: there’s something about seeing a place for the first time that gets me keen to shoot.

I think it’s important to let work rest, to give it time and space and to come back to it critically. Sincere criticism can elevate a project and I find that showing my work and talking about it helps me stay motivated. I’ve come to realise how important it is for me to complete a project or body of work. That is, to finish things off and move on. It is easy to continuously make small changes, thus becoming overwhelmed by perfection. Deadlines are useful to make space for new projects.

In the age where digital photography is present, what draws you to film and what makes it special to you?

Film seems to be more raw, both in process and product. The process is more time consuming and can be laborious which forces consideration (and frustration). Somehow it’s possible to tell if a photographer is shooting film. I don’t really know what it is. And I don’t know whether this makes the final product more valuable or not. I’ve considered the shift to digital, and for a lot of reasons it makes sense. But I already own this gear, I know it and I trust the results. Maybe I’ll make some images using a digital camera or iPhone at some point, but for the twist of a knee it’s all film. I try not to think too much whether or not I got “the shot”, but that first look at a freshly developed roll is always exciting.

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

As a photographer and artist, it is vitally important to be conscious of your surroundings. In a way my work is an attempt to figure out my place in the world, so I am influenced by the people I interact with and the spaces in which I find myself.

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, Jean Brundrit, Sam Contis, David Goldblatt, Gregory Halpern, Pieter Hugo, Svea Josephy, Zanele Muholi, Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs, Jo Ractliffe, Torbjøn Rødland, Viviane Sassen, Alec Soth, Mikhael Subotsky and Wolfgang Tillmans have all influenced my work recently.

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

Most of the things I do relate to my practice in some way. I enjoy watching films as there are many links between photography and cinema: the visuals of course, but also the narrative. I read, write and occasionally draw – the product of which ends up as a kind of visual journal that exists as a document of my process.

Any tips for aspiring film photographers?

Be patient.

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

I’ll be moving around Europe for September: UK, Germany and the Netherlands. I start the masters program at HFBK, Hamburg, in October and will be working towards that for the next two years. In the future I’d like for my photobook/s to be published, and for more of my photographs and artwork to be shown in galleries to a wider audience. I’m also keen to shoot more commercial work and am interested in collaboration.

Website: http://www.christopherjameschandler.com/
Instagram: @____christopherjames

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All images taken from the twist of a knee series. View teaser of the upcoming photobook here: http://christopherjameschandler.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/twist_dummy_spread.pdf

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It was with a sense of dislocation after completing my undergraduate at Michaelis that I decided to make a project based in Grahamstown, where I was born. I had wondered about the role of photography in South Africa and my place in the discourse. With the move home I became interested in the mundanity of the everyday routine, chance interactions, processes, labour and cycles.

My intention was to make photographs for a book geographically focused on this town: a place of significant socio-political contrast and harsh light. The result is a fractured yet intimate journey. Detailed evidence of everyday encounters is present yet the book is intentionally devoid of signifiers of time and space. It is, ultimately, both familiar and uncomfortable.

All photos by Christopher James Chandler

DEAD TOWN™ | Film-only Photographic Showcase ©2017-2018.

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Robin Bernstein

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Robin Bernstein (b. 1990)
Cape Town

What kinds of things do you most enjoy photographing?

I enjoy environmental portraiture, real life culture and documentary style. I’ve always been drawn to subjects and their relationship to the urban spatial environment.

Describe your photographic style.

Documentary rooted in contemporary culture, and its relationship to urban structures of the past. I find this (I like to think optimistic) way of looking at South Africa’s present state against the backdrop of its troubled past acts a fertile ground for the making of relevant and interesting pictures.

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 wholeheartedly grips and governs my life. From the age of 19 I’ve tailored all aspects of my life around photography, from business through to leisure.

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

For me, photography is also about capturing a moment in time that embodies or signifies a larger span of time. Regarding shots, I try to take the Eggleston approach; edit with the viewfinder, shoot only one frame (or less rather than more) of any particular subject. Bodies of work for me generally refer to long term well considered photographic investigations of a particular subject.

Personally I enjoy working on longer term bodies of work, that may morph and change in their vision slightly as a result of the time I spend on them. I find this brings a certain realness through timeous consideration to the work.

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

Photography is my professional career. I take pictures, work as a lighting and as a digital assistant in the commercial industry, and I also co-own and act as crew manager at Cape Collective Assist, a stills crew agency/collective based in Cape Town.

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

Currently, I bounce between a Fuji GW67ii rangefinder and a Mamiya RZ 67 Pro ii for most of my work. I love the rangefinder for its relative compactness and portability. I always carry an on-camera flash. I also occasionally shoot a Nikon L35ad point and shoot for my 35mm stuff. Film wise, I shoot mostly colour negative; Kodak Portra 160, 400 and 800, as well as Ektar 100.

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

You just gotta keep on shooting.

In the age where digital photography is prevalent, what draws you to film and what makes it special to you?

Many reasons. First off I prefer the aesthetic quality that film gives when it comes to my personal work; softer grain versus the clinical perfection that digital cameras strive to reach. Colour negative has a particularly large dynamic range, which is great. I enjoy the way focus fall off reacts to your film plane on larger formats. From a work-flow point of view, I really enjoy the consideration one is forced to make when working with film — your mind has to be much more focused while shooting.

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

Photographically I find myself always turning back to a pre-Instagram golden era of photographers such as Phillip Lorca Di-Corcia, Stephen Shore, Martin Parr, Garry Winogrand, Bruce Davidson, Susan Meiselas, Edward Burtynsky, Jeff Wall, Alec Soth, Rineke Dijkstra and Andreas Gurskey— masters all in their own right. I find myself appreciating and drawing on various aspects from each of their work, from composition, conceptual backing and direction of subject, to use of colour and use of light.

My current ‘day job’ is working as a digital operator and lighting assistant in the commercial photography industry, and as such I’m continually exposed to, and influenced by, the workflows of some prolific and highly skilled individuals on the international stage in that industry. Despite my inherent lack of interest in commercial work or fashion for fashion’s sake, through working in in this area of photography I have developed a great interest in fashion as a vehicle for modern culture, and I feel that this new found interest plays heavily into my more recent personal work.

Finally – and most importantly – I try to let the world around me shape my way of seeing and recording it. I try to allow happenings in my personal life; emotions, music, motion picture references, as well as those from art and literature sit on the peripheries of my mind while I photograph.

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

Surfing, being in nature, really long drives, music.

Any tips for aspiring film photographers?

As a photographer, whatever your medium of choice is just make sure you aim to master it, but never at the expense of missing the shot.

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

As I mentioned earlier, long term projects are my thing. I have a number of them in the pipeline, some of which I hope will come to fruition soon.

Website: http://www.robinbernsteinphoto.com/
Instagram: @robin.bernstein
Cape Collective Assist: http://www.capecollectiveassist.com/

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All photos by Robin Bernstein

DEAD TOWN™ | Film-only Photographic Showcase ©2017-2018.

Shalom Mushwana

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Shalom Mushwana (b. 1994, Grahamstown, a small town in the Eastern Cape)
Currently based in Johannesburg

What kinds of things do you most enjoy photographing?

I photograph a variety of subjects. I enjoy portraits, architecture and still life, like the random interesting setups you find out on the streets or within peoples homes/spaces.

Describe your photographic style.

I photograph pretty classically, I guess. I try to break away from that with the content I choose but generally pretty well composed. Think Alec Soth and Santu Mofokeng, something in between their styles. Very loose content, allowing free association between how one image may or may not relate to another. I’m trying to hone a sort of poetry through my photography.

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)?

We’re always looking as photographers, so it’s pretty inevitable that you’re always looking through a lens even when you you don’t have a camera in front of your face. Personally, I’ve learnt a lot about not having a camera with me, recognising the beauty of experiencing life. When I have a camera with me consistently, the experiencial moments of life are often diluted by the fact that I’m trying to capture whatever moment may be flung in front of me. With this in mind I believe that much of my cues to photograph come from a good balance of being able to experience the moment; I’m either in my own head completely or simultaneously involved with and/or detached from the experience.

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

I can be a relatively withdrawn and anxious person so a lot of the time I don’t actively seek moments to photograph — I’m really patient so I play a pretty strong waiting game with the images I create. The politics of space, the relationship between myself and what I photograph, as well as the greater goal of the images I want to create are all things I consider before I capture an image (especially when working towards a greater body of work). That being said, sometimes I’m not thinking about any of the above things directly, so the indirect relationship between active and passive photography is another conversation on its own. In short, I believe that my approach is strongly informed by my intuition; I like getting a concept so deeply etched in my mind that the often “mindless” images I create come to life as a result of my meditation on a particular idea.

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

I’m trying to freelance photographically, it’s an extremely saturated industry at the moment. I enjoy a variety of types of music so I spend a lot of time helping out friends with mix-downs, recordings, and sometimes arrangements. I’ve been working with video on and off but I’ve been trying to get into the habit of it this year. Otherwise, I’ve always had a passion for art; I love printmaking and drawing as well as animation. So I work in a variety of fields, honestly anything that’s going to pay the bills.

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

I have an Olympus OM10 at the moment, but man I’ve photographed with so many camera’s in my career. Right now I’m pretty set on moving to large format (hopefully a Linhof Master Technika but will probably settle for a Graflex Speed graphic). I spent a few years photographing medium format but felt I needed to learn more, so learning to make do with 35mm and it’s gritty aesthetic has been important in changing my relationship to the aesthetisisation of an image. I hated 35mm, but I am sure that if the content of an image is good enough you overlook the grit. Film wise, I’ve been pretty set on Kodak’s Portra 400 and Illford HP5 plus. Flexibility is key to me, so having a roll loaded that I can shoot throughout the day and at night is fundamental.

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

I don’t know honestly, I don’t feel like I can live without my artistic craft, I would be distraught. But reflection is probably my greatest motivation; looking back at what I’ve created, noting changes in approaches, seeing work I thought was amazing look terrible as well as seeing how some I’m currently making looks terrible. Watching your style grow, noticing the similarities in what you create. Knowing that my craft is growing is what keeps me growing.

In the age where digital photography is prevalent, what draws you to film and what makes it special to you?

I have a story about this: During a festival in 2014 my first digital camera was stolen from me. I was studying Fine Art at the time and the photography lecturer I had was awesome, he let me use an old Nikon F90x I think, it had a terrible zoom lense that was filled with mould but it was all I had. This is about a year and a half after I started photographing. I learnt the whole monochrome analogue process, from negative processing to silver print processing. I was useless at the time but it was the only way I could photograph. So I photographed on film for a while out of necessity really, then it became a habit. Now, digital is a bit overwhelming, I find that my digital images turn out very sterile because of the ability to review and perfect an image. Digital photography is important though, especially in terms of accessibility to those that can’t afford the costly process of photographing on film (photographing consistently on film is a luxury I believe). The way it was brought into my life changed my philosophy of creating images, it made digital photography feel too rushed. Then again, photographing on film isn’t about superiority, digital will have better quality images no doubt, but it’s about the images you create, and using film shifts my approach, and that is the special thing to me.

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

I’ll always be inspired and thankful to the people who have interacted with me personally about the images I create and how to improve, so mentors of sort, who I will list below. I’m inspired by my circumstance in this world, by the difficulties and shortcomings of my life. I’m inspired by my parents and siblings. I’m inspired by South Africa and it’s gnarly history. I think understanding the place we live in and how the never-ending historical narrative can be a massive disappointment, but also huge source of inspiration to create work that is relevant to the contemporary — maybe it’s beautiful, maybe it’s ugly or even completely mundane. Also just the global society we have access to; it’s a bit overwhelming at times, but it’s influence on everything cannot be understated.

Brent Meistre, Monique Pelser, Buyahphi Mdlele, Michelle Loukidis, Zanele Muholi, Wolfgang Tillmans, Alec Soth, Carie Mae Weems, Cindy Sherman.

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

Playing guitar/keyboard, composing music, talking about life experiences with good friends and strangers, hikes and I’m tempted to get back into skateboarding, it’s been too long.

Any tips for aspiring film photographers?

Don’t photograph for the hype, unless the hype is your intention. That shit is fleeting.

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

I can only hope for the best. I’m always working on something, hopefully a group show or two is on the cards this year, nothing solid yet. I’m currently bound to Johannesburg, but travels to a variety of places are always on the horizon — I’m quite an impulse traveler.

In the future, I hope to be running a multimedia studio, allowing a variety of disciplines of art to be available all under one roof, hopefully connecting and creating news ways of manifesting visual ideas.

Instagram: @shalom_mushwana

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All photos by Shalom Mushwana

DEAD TOWN™ | Film-only Photographic Showcase ©2017-2018.

Saaiqa

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Saaiqa (b. 1991)
Durban

What kinds of things do you most enjoy photographing?

I enjoy photographing a range of different things and there is so much that influences what/how/why I photograph the things I do. Not sure if I can get into all of that right now though.

But something that is definitely present in my work, is that I look to create images that have an emotional quality and that speaks of/resonates with some kind of truth or reality.

I oscillate between extremes in my work — visually and thematically. I can be controlled and traditional in some instances, while in others I am experimental and obscure.

Photography is also reactionary for me, it can be an attempt to make sense of/reflect on an environment, a space, time, person, society etc. that I am experiencing and witnessing.

My work usually reflects an engagement with a psychological landscape, the natural world, idiosyncrasies and complexities pertaining to the human condition, inter-sectionally and the duality of life.

Describe your photographic style.

Ephemeral. Transcendent. Gritty. Honest. Intimate. Poetic. Melancholic. Confrontational. Introspective. Visceral. Cinematic.

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 think that is so important… to understand that the process and the journey is probably the most important and rewarding part of all of this.

At the core of photography, it is a reflection on time and memory. All photographs become memento mori in some way. And I think because of this confrontation with our mortality that it intensifies everything.

I think I have always had this kind of hypersensitivity and hyperawareness. And photographing is in some way an attempt to harness how I see and experience things.

This ‘active’ way of looking means everything to me, it is so precious to constantly look at everything with a sense of wonder and genuine interest. It really enriches my life.

I don’t view myself as a romantic person in general but when it comes to how I see, how I look and observe life; to bear witness to the most commonplace sight can be this super romantic and transcendent experience for me.

Even if things are hard to look at or explore; especially if it’s things in my personal life. Life is so beautiful but also incredibly dark and painful at times and I pride myself in confronting all of it. I think it’s quite healthy to do so.

It is also important to sometimes remember to put the camera down and be present in a moment that means a lot to you. Not everything needs to be photographed.

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

I usually carry a camera wherever I go. When I shoot, it comes from a very visceral, experiential and instinctive place.

For me personally, reading, writing, and critical engagement with what I am experiencing and what is happening in the world is an important part of my process.

Knowing what you are talking about is crucial when it comes to conveying/executing a concept, but also just by expanding your understanding and awareness — all knowledge and experience is consciously/subconsciously processed and internalised and will inform how you see and ultimately shoot.

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

Yes it is. I view myself as an artist/visual storyteller.

I’m pursuing avenues as a photographer, visual artist, writer and cinematographer. It is all about harnessing meaning through visual representation.

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

I shoot with a Nikon F401s (which I’m super attached to because it was my father’s camera and literally my entire childhood was shot with that camera), a Nikon FM2 and a cheap Pentax (point and shoot) I came across in a second hand shop. I also want to get a medium format as soon as I can afford one.

As for film stock, for black and white I enjoy the Kodak Tri-X400, Ilford HP5, Ilford XP2 Super 400 and sometimes Kodak TMax. With colour I’m not too particular; whatever I can get my hands on really. The fFilm stocks I want to play with in the future are the Ilford Delta 3200 (black and white) and the Fujifilm Natura 1600 (colour).

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

I feel personal and creative growth is essential. My curiosity and desire to observe and reflect is probably what motivates me the most. I’m just genuinely interested… in everything. And how it all relates and intersects.

I consume a lot of literature and I do a fuck ton of research so I think it would be very hard for me to not be motivated or run out of ideas.

Also, it is important to understand when it comes to growth as any artist — that we all possess an instinctive amount of talent. And it is something you cannot be taught for sure. But the thing is, you have to be responsible for that talent; it is your responsibility to put in the work and to better yourself.

In the age where digital photography is prevalent, what draws you to film and what makes it special to you?

Digital photography definitely has its place in the world and I am appreciative for that. It has certainly changed everything though— we are living in an extremely image saturated society where we are not only bombarded with imagery, but everyone is also a photographer and is capable of taking pretty good photographs. That’s the thing though, a ‘good’ photograph is not enough anymore, and there are millions of ‘good’ photographs taken every single day.

Substance and honesty is what resonates, things can’t just be beautiful. People want more. It’s tough; it’s really tough in this industry to set yourself apart from all the visual noise.

The pace at which everything operates and exists is very intense as well, and I think some photographers see value in slowing down that process and being a bit more present.

I think film serves that purpose for many of us. To be present and really consider that what you are doing feels good.

I’m a lot calmer when I shoot film as well; you take your shot and that’s it. Sometimes you get it and sometimes you don’t. You learn to let go.

The aesthetic integrity of film is without a doubt a big part of what I love about it as well. The grain, the colour, the depth… there is nothing quite like it.

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

I’m influenced by many great things — pretty much everything and anything I come into contact with can catalyse something for me.

I believe you don’t just make a photograph with your camera; all of the experience is brought to the act of photographing, all the books you have ever read, every image and film you have ever seen, every song you have heard. Everything has a conscious and subconscious effect on how you navigate through life and how we ultimately see and experience the world.

Strictly photographic based influence though, I like Viviane Sassen, Daido Moriyama, Diane Arbus, Irving Penn, Adam Fuss, Sally Mann, Masao Yamamoto, Stanley Greene, Sebastiao Salgado and Peter Lindbergh (just some that are coming to mind).

In terms of other visuals, films are a big influence for me. Some favourites:

In The Mood for Love (2000)
D.O.P.: Christopher Doyle, Mark Lee Ping-bing, Kwan Pun Leung

Sevdaliza’s Human music video (2016)
D.O.P.: Paul Ozgur

Tree of Life (2011), The Revenant (2015)
D.O.P.: Emmanuel Lubezki

Dunkirk (2017)
D.O.P.: Hoyte van Hoytema

Moonlight (2016)
D.O.P.: James Laxton

The Blaze’s Territory music video (2017)
D.O.P.: Benoit Soler

Stalker (1979)
D.O.P.: Andrei Tarkovsky, Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky

True Detective (2014)
D.O.P.: Adam Arkapaw

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

In addition to my photographic work, I also work with mixed media and installation based works.

Other than that I enjoy being active and physical — I run and do yoga quite a bit and I used to do boxing for a while (I want to get back into it and some other physical exploits when I have the opportunity to).

I also really fucking love food – I cook and bake a lot.

Any tips for aspiring film photographers?

I guess this goes for all photographers and artists… Don’t get caught up in the ego. Most importantly don’t create from the ego. Likes on social media don’t mean shit. Just do the fucking work honestly and from a real place of substance.

Social media can really have a negative effect on some creativity. People are too caught up in comparing themselves to others and are not engaging with themselves and their work in a healthy way.

The only person you should be competing with is yourself. Know who you are, why you photograph what you do, be introspective, know what you are talking about and do the work.

And don’t take advantage of people!!

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

I’m currently working on a new body of work called ‘The Altar of Flesh’. The plan is to make it into a photo book and to maybe present it in an exhibition.

I’m quite excited about what I have been creating for this project. It’s dark, ephemeral and primordial in aesthetic tone.

I’m still exploring, but the work is reflecting themes of transience, death, sex, intimacy, ritual and transcendence. Ultimately, it is a self portrait.

In terms of other things I have going on; I’m working on a short film later this year as the D.O.P. I’m also in a very exciting incubation/apprenticeship-like film program via The KZN Film Commission. So this will also be in play for a while, in addition to other things I will be involved in.

Otherwise, I’m hustling, trying to make things happen and figuring shit out as I go. Enjoying the ride and appreciating how I see and engage with the world(s) around me.

Instagram: @acollaredwoman

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The Mad Scene, The Fourth Wall Series

All photos by Saaiqa

DEAD TOWN™ | Film-only Photographic Showcase ©2017-2018.

Tomas Wells

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Tomas Wells (b. 1995, Johannesburg)
Cape Town.

What kinds of things do you most enjoy photographing?

I enjoy shooting a little bit of everything, from landscapes to unconventional portraits and arbitrary objects or scenes. I’d definitely say that what I enjoy shooting is constantly evolving.

Describe your photographic style.

If I had to take a step back and try to summarise it, I’d likely say it’s a cross pollination of man-made objects or subjects in natural environments. It’s hard to really pin down because it’s often scenes I stumble across.

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 am much more considerate of my environment and take notice of everyday things around me that people take for granted. It has also created a love for venturing to places I’d probably never have gone to in South Africa.

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

It varies; it’s either just something I find interesting while I’m out and about or it’s something I see over and over again (usually on a daily basis) and it bugs me so much that I have to go take a photo of it. Currently there’s a damaged concrete fence on Philip Kgosana Drive that has been bugging me for weeks, I’ll probably go shoot it sometime.

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

No, it’s just a hobby. On a full time basis I work as a video editor at AVA.

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

My girlfriend recently got me a Nikon F100 from Hong Kong, otherwise I’ve been using a Nikon N65 with a Nikon 50mm f1.8. I also occasionally shoot with a small Pentax Espio just for fun. I find myself moving between various film stocks depending on where I am when I need a roll. Personal favourite is Portra 400.

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

This is something I struggle with immensely, but I think my motivation comes in waves. Once I feel that I have no more “oomph” to create something it really forces me to stop, push and think of something that will revitalise that motivation.

In the age where digital photography is prevalent, what draws you to film and what makes it special to you?

I think most people would say the aesthetic of film stocks, but I think for me personally it’s introduced me to such a rad community that revolves around film. There are so many locals creating great work that I possibly would not have been introduced to if it was not for film. Also receiving scans back is like receiving a small treat.

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

I think your influences come from your current space in life, the people you’re surrounded by and places you see. In terms of photographers, I’d have to say people like Tom Westbury, Mo Wahl, Cody Cobb, and all the locals; Kent Andreasen, Gabrielle Guy, Christiaan Beyers and the list goes on.

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

Going for an occasional early morning hike or ocean swim is always the best way to start any day. Other than that I spend most of my time, if I’m not at work, exploring and shooting.

Any tips for aspiring film photographers?

Don’t take things too seriously, shoot whatever catches your eye and most importantly just shoot for yourself. I recently found myself shooting images with sharing it in mind and I found myself really unsatisfied shooting that way. So yeah, just shoot for yourself.

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

I’ve been in the process of planning a sneaky trip to some islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, but we’ll see where that takes me. I like the idea of doing more unconventional trips that are generally overlooked as typical holiday destinations. For me these places usually yield intriguing and interesting spaces that need to be captured.

Instagram: @tomas_wells

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All photos by Tomas Wells

DEAD TOWN™ | Film-only Photographic Showcase ©2017-2018.

Jesse Navarre Vos

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Jesse Navarre Vos (b. 1991)
Cape Town

What kinds of things do you most enjoy photographing?

I mostly enjoy photographing people. I like the sense of connection it fosters.

Describe your photographic style.

I’m not really sure if I have a style as such. I do, however, really enjoy close-up and intimate portraiture. I like seeing people’s faces and the details on their skin.

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 think I was always more influenced by film as a medium, rather than photography. I just found photography more accessible. It certainly influences the way you see things around you, and at times you start seeing the world in terms of composition and framing. It has more influenced my idea of connection with the people I tend to photograph.

I’m generally quite introverted and a little shy and it has had to make me become a bit more forthcoming in my interaction, especially with strangers. I still get nervous asking people to photograph them because I think you have to be conscious of your intentions. You have to be willing to listen to people’s stories and to give them the time of day. For me, it has influenced the way in which I interact with people, which I guess is more behind the scenes rather than the photograph as a final product.

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

When I first started I was obsessed with capturing singular moments of beauty or subjects that intrigued me. The more I have been shooting, I’ve realised that this isn’t enough anymore. A lot of people take beautiful portraits and I think in todays world where everything is being produced and uploaded so quickly I have become more drawn to more narrative based work that happens over a period of time, that is immersive, rather than produced in an instant.

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

I work in the photographic industry, but I am by no means a professional photographer, whatever that may mean. I don’t want to become dependent upon my personal work for financial security. When you depend upon your personal work for money that can really kill one’s passion and creativity. If it ever gets to the point where I’m able to generate an income for my style and personal work that would be great, but I’m not depending on that.

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

I shoot with a Mamiya RB67 and generally use Kodak Portra 400. I’ve shot a lot of different film stocks over the last two years, but it’s the one I come back to.

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

I try to find projects that intrigue me and that I know will stimulate and keep my interest — that’s why I am working on some more longer narrative based projects at the moment. I also don’t draw inspiration from photography that much, apart from compositional purposes mostly. I get most of my inspiration from my environment, from conversations I have with friends, films, music, etc. I studied Anthropology, History and Music, so I don’t come from a photographic background, and I think those mediums have played quite a big role in the work I’m doing at the moment.

In the age where digital photography is prevalent, what draws you to film and what makes it special to you?

I like the idea of process. I like that it takes time to set up a photograph, that it makes me have to interact with my subject, and forces me to slow down. I also don’t like having to edit down thousands of pictures which is what one does when one shoots digital. I’m not against digital by any means, but for my practice i just doesn’t fit. I am wanting to get into hand printing, and I think the process of creating a photograph beyond just taking a picture is what appeals to me the most. The idea of making a physical representation of the photograph. I don’t think my reasons for shooting film are for nostalgic reasons; I prefer to think that it’s about the process and outcome. It’s the tangible aspect that appeals to me.

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

I have no idea how to answer this accurately, because I know for sure that I’m inspired by more than just photographers. Influences are the result of a lifetime of passions and experiences, so to keep it simple I’m just going to say everyday experiences, people, movies, music, books, etc.

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

I really enjoy writing and I’m hoping to shoot some more short form based films in the near future.

Any tips for aspiring film photographers?

Patience and perseverance. I think finding one’s style and voice takes a lot of time and experimentation to develop and grow, and it’s forever changing and defining itself. I think it always helps to be critical about one’s work and to always be willing to grow and learn. Film offers so many options, but I think because it can work out to be quite an expensive hobby/experience that it’s best to try and ask oneself why you want to shoot film. Everyone needs to answer this question for themselves.

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

I am currently working on a few narrative based projects which I’ll be engaging with over the next few months. I’ve also started moving into directing, which I find a great compliment to shooting photographs. I love film and I have always wanted to be a director, so I will be pursuing that as well over the next few months. I don’t have any plans for exhibitions or anything of that nature at the moment. I’m just taking things slow and let whatever happens happen.

Instagram: @jessenavarrevos

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All photos by Jesse Navarre Vos

DEAD TOWN™ | Film-only Photographic Showcase ©2017-2018.

Gray Kotze

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Gray Kotze (b. 1992)
Cape Town

What kinds of things do you most enjoy photographing?

People and their interactions with their environments. I like to try and capture expressions or places in a way that is representative of the reality of that moment and tells a story. I also enjoy capturing beauty, landscapes or otherwise.

Describe your photographic style.

Coming from a background of film and cinematography I like to try and photograph in a visually pleasing manner, focusing on light and composition in order to best tell the story of the place I’m photographing. I like working with natural light, finding beautiful spaces and interesting characters.

Photography is also a means for me to test cinematic looks and techniques. I like trying out different equipment which inevitably influences the style in some way.

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)?

When I walk around with a camera I’m far more aware of my surroundings. It forces you to wake up, concentrate and appreciate the environment rather than walking around with your head down. I started taking photos whilst traveling and found I was always more in tune and engaged with new places when I had a camera and was walking around trying to capture the feeling of the place.

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?

Photography is more an interest than my primary creative pursuit so I’m not too serious about putting together a specific project. But when I do have an idea for a series it usually comes out of a desire to take photos that are visually linked, therefore I usually end up limiting myself to using the exact same equipment (same lens, stock, etc.) for the whole series to maintain the visual aesthetic.

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

I work in the film industry. Photography isn’t my career but it supplements it.

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

Nikon F3 with a set of Nikkor AIS primes.

I like to experiment with different 35mm stocks. Ideally I’d love to primarily shoot Cinestill 50D (which is rebranded Kodak Vision3 stock) — but it’s not financially viable. I usually shoot Agfa Vista for colour and Agfa APX for black and white — it’s cheap with nice contrast. When I have money I shoot Portra.

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

By looking at great work by other artists — cinematographers, photographers, etc.

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

I’m inspired by both the South African cinematographers that I’m lucky to work with and the work of international cinematographers such as Christopher Doyle, Sean Bobbitt, Emmanuel Lubezki, Bradford Young, Reed Morano, and many others. As well as film-makers/photographers like Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Jonas Lindstroem and Sean Metelerkamp.

I love the work of classic, slightly surreal photojournalists like Gordon Parks, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa. Stanley Kubrick also has some incredibly cinematic photo journalistic photography.

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

Reading, writing, traveling, hiking, going to the cinema.

Any tips for aspiring film photographers?

For any creative field, study the work of others that you love and copy it until your work begins to change from imitation into something original.

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

We (myself and director Greg Bakker) went to Durban International Film Festival in 2017 with our debut feature film, Relics. Now we’re moving on and trying to produce our second feature. We’re also re-writing a bunch of South African scripts, which we hope will get funded one day.

Website: http://www.graykotze.com/
Instagram: @graykotze

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All photos by Gray Kotze

DEAD TOWN™ | Film-only Photographic Showcase ©2017-2018.