Vincent Bezuidenhout

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Vincent Bezuidenhout (b. 1978, Bloemfontein)
Currently living between Cape Town and New York City

What kinds of things do you most enjoy photographing?

I enjoy exploring new places and finding a new image I have never taken before.

Describe your photographic style.

I am interested in the strengths of the medium, like its ability to record information for example, but equally I want to explore the many limitations inherent in making photographs.

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)?

Not being confined to a studio practice allows me to interact with the world directly in a meaningful way. These interactions help me to make sense of my environment, often in the shape of people I meet, or experiences I will have, but which are not necessarily photographed. The making of a photograph is in turn imbued with the richness of this journey which increases my understanding of the subject matter.

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 rarely photograph something the first time, unless I have to, as my interest within the medium does not lie in one moment, but instead in images which exist within a much larger time frame. If I see something of interest and keep thinking about it I know there is something worth exploring and I will think how I can execute the image in a way that will suit a project. I sometimes take years before I make an image with the result that most of my bodies of work are simultaneously part of a larger whole.

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

I have worked in photography and photography related industries my entire career.

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

I use whatever camera is best suited for what I want to photograph. When I work with a large format camera I use a Sinar 8×10 camera with Kodak Ektar film.

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

I work in a cyclical manner, and often after spending a few years on one project I will work on something different for a while. This allows me to reflect on past projects and subsequently to return to a previous way of working with a fresh perspective.

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

I use film for its aesthetic qualities, obtained through both using a large format camera and from making large-scale prints. For these bodies of work, I prefer the subtle tonal values, gradation and image rendering of film as opposed to a digital camera.

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

As a Tierney fellow I had the privilege of working with many great photographers and my early influences include The New Topographics and the Düsseldorf School. I continue to be inspire by both the old and the new, independent of medium specificity.

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

I have a research-intensive practice and with the research actually taking up most of my time I send on a project, which, luckily, I enjoy immensely. As an artist I also work in video and installation and enjoy finding ways of combing these elements with my photographic practice.

Any tips for aspiring film photographers?

Don’t listen to people who give you tips on how to photograph.

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 new body of photographs, combing various strategies I have used in previous projects about which I am very excited. In the future I want to continue to engage with the medium of photography as directly as I can, as it continues to shift and change.

Website: https://www.vincentbezuidenhout.com/
Instagram: @vincent_bezuidenhout

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All photos by Vincent Bezuidenhout

DEAD TOWN™ | Film-only Photographic Showcase ©2017-2019.

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Luc Lenferna de la Motte

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Luc Lenferna de la Motte (b. 1989)
Cape Town

What kinds of things do you most enjoy photographing?

I’m a sucker for light and shadow interplay, particularly in nature. I’m also fascinated by nature’s role in urban landscapes and, lately, the human form in all its imperfections.

Describe your photographic style.

I would describe my style as most certainly on the minimal side. I like experimenting with the idea of ‘space’ within a frame and the simple beauty that it brings.

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)?

Apart from it being my creative release, I find myself seeing the world through a camera lens wherever I go. When the light is just perfect, all I think about is burning that moment onto some film for prosperity.

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’m all about what catches my eye. I try not change a scene too much and let the natural elements do the work for me. I play the part of observer in a way, recording the aesthetic through my camera. In saying that, I’m also hardly ever without my camera.

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

Photography is a career I’m currently pursuing. I juggle this with my current 9-5 at a tech start up, of which I am a founder. Photography keeps me sane in a way.

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

My weapon of choice is a Canon AV-1, but I also dabble with my Olympus Trip 35 point-and-shoot and Minolta SRT-101. With film I usually hop between Kodak Gold 200 and Portra 400.

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

I’ve never actually felt any type of slowdown or boredom from shooting film. Maybe I’m lucky… But really I think it’s understanding how every shot you take will differ depending on the scenario.

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

To me it’s all about the process. Shooting film slows everything down, it makes you think of every single frame. Also, the fact that it’s a tangible burn of light is highly appealing to me.

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

Wow, this could be a long list, but to name just a few; Lukasz Wierzbowski, Larry Hoffman, Gabriella Achadinha, Maya Beano, Michael McCluskey and Alexander Petsavas – all contemporary photographers).

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

I’m a huge outdoors person, so hiking and any adventurous getaway just gets me going. Goes hand in hand with my photography too.

Any tips for aspiring film photographers?

Find out what you really enjoy taking photos of. Trial and error is your friend. Trust the process.

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

I’m hoping to host my own exhibition within the next year. Watch this space.

Instagram: @lucdelamotte

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All photos by Luc Lenferna de la Motte

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

James Blyth

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James Blyth (b. 1996, Cape Town)
Currently living in Berlin, Germany

What kinds of things do you most enjoy photographing?

I started off by experimenting with one of my aunts old cameras that she left behind. I was teaching myself though documenting what was around me in my life, and then it grew further and extended into some of my work as a club photographer — one photo of which had a huge trend in North America. Now I’ve gone back to my roots of documenting moments that are special to me.

Describe your photographic style.

Minimal lifestyle documentation. I really try to put a lot more focus on the subject itself than the whole scene, because it brings the viewer closer into the photo.

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)?

My personal life changed a lot since I became a photographer, the places it has taken me and the things I’ve seen in Cape Town were unreal. It has opened my eyes a lot more to life. I am more aware of what is happening around me.

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 my work, I mainly focus on documenting the present and capturing things that most people won’t see normally. Something in a special moment, that may be significant in the future.

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

While I was studying in college I was working full time for both, but now that I’m finished I still find it hard to be able to support yourself in the industry. I have other jobs while working to get by.

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

Canon Eos 1V HS. Pentax K1000. Canon AF35mm. Fuji HD-M.

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

I have been finding this difficult since moving to Berlin because there is so much to take in. But I’ve been slowly working at it. The only way to stay enthusiastic about your work is to actually participate in the craft and your will learn and grow as you do it. You can’t just read about it or look it up on google — it takes practice to grow.

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

The physical element of it, as much fun of finding out what you’ve shot only after it has been developed. I like to have the physical copy of the photographs themselves. The physical copy of the film seems more special to me than just having a digital photograph. The film also has this element to it, like it is alive rather than where a digital photograph has a “more detailed” look but doesn’t feel alive, rather scientific.

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

Kent Andreasen. Kyle Weeks. Tomas Wells.

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

I produce and play music, as well as organising and managing music events. I used to play a lot more, but now that I’ve moved country I’m having to break into a different scene which has turned out more difficult than I thought, but I’m not giving up.

Any tips for aspiring film photographers?

The price of the camera doesn’t matter, it’s the purpose, skill and timing you need. Not a new or fancy camera, but whichever one you have with you.

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

I’ve just recently done a photo shoot with a Hungarian DJ for a fashion studio here in Berlin. I will also be doing a editorial shoot with the studio where we will do an exhibition of the photos in their space with guests and music.

Website: http://www.jamesblyth.ml/
Instagram: @jaaamesblyth

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All photos by James Blyth

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

Gina van der Ploeg

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Gina van der Ploeg (b. 1994)
Cape Town

What kinds of things do you most enjoy photographing?

I always take pictures of landscapes. I used to aim for variation but eventually succumbed to the fact that most of my images will be of nature. My photographs become a kind of panoramic list of places I’ve been to and expanses I’ve looked upon.

Describe your photographic style.

I love everything and anything soft; flowers, grass, clouds, water with dramatic horizon lines. I often try to bring attention to the beauty of textures and detail interspersed with landscapes/dreamscapes, often whimsical and comforting (at least to me).

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)?

Shooting with film really changes the way you see moments that unfold around you, it takes time to set up a shot and there have been many moments I have missed in the time it took to load or wind the film. Seeing the world through this analogue frame helps me to appreciate beauty in the small and the big things, and just to be grateful for my eyes and all that they experience, and for my body’s ability to take me on adventures.

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 shoot outside of a studio and don’t usually stage images. I find that it helps to walk around, constantly looking through your viewfinder, changing your levels, and then trying not to second guess yourself/feel precious about the film and just take the image. Over the years of shooting film I’ve collected an inventory of images, I enjoy playing around with combinations of old and new images to create a body of work, as this often takes my photographs in a direction I couldn’t have imagined/planned.

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

No, I recently finished a degree in Fine Art and am busy with a BA Honours looking at aesthetic, artistic and religious practices in South Africa.

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

I shoot primary with a Minolta X-700 and sometimes with a Mamiya ZE-2. I generally shoot with Fugifilm Superia ASA200 (for outdoor shooting) and Ilford B&W ASA125, all 35mm.

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

I like that I can tell stories and create narratives. Photography is a relatively quick way to portray something beautiful or something new, nostalgic or to direct the way someone thinks about an object or a landscape. I love physically being outside and in nature and I love art that one can touch or experience beyond simply looking. I enjoy the challenge of creating a photograph that draws you in in a similar way.

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

When I wait to receive a newly developed roll of film, that anticipation reminds me why I shoot film. It’s a tangible, physical process. The limited number of shots helps me to focus on the photograph I am taking. I love the mechanical click of the shutter and love knowing that other people have used my cameras before me, that they had a life before I started using them.

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

The first thing I respond to when taking a photograph is the light. Using natural light means that I always have to check my light meter and let as much light into the lens as possible. I like the idea of having to be sensitive and respond to what is physically in the picture; the light becomes a very palpable part of taking the photograph. I love water, movement, weather and textures! Inspiration: Sama Alshaibi (photography), Anselm Kiefer (painting), Igshaan Adams (sculpture), Khadija M Farah (photography), Mona Hatoum (sculpture), Silvia Conde (photography).

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

I make wearable and touchable sculptures and love any kind of dance and movement that is produced as we try and navigate spaces in a meaningful way. I love being outdoors — my interest in movement and landscape often takes me to the beach or to the mountain.

Any tips for aspiring film photographers?

Get to know your camera properly and give yourself a few rolls before being too hard on yourself! You have to embrace the waiting period and you will be so amazed by the depth of colour and texture that film conveys.

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

I hope to travel to Japan and am eager to be in a space where people actively connect with their natural environment and interrogate their position in it. Aside from this sensitivity to nature, Japan also holds incredible photographic opportunities which I am so excited for!

Instagram: @gina.vanderploeg

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All photos by Gina van der Ploeg

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

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.

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

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