Posts tagged photography
Early in 2011, thanks to the power of social media, I was introduced to a group on Facebook called the “Joburg Photowalkers”. The group was started by a couple of Johannesburg-based photography lovers who wanted to share their passion for photography and Johannesburg with other like-minded people.
The concept is simple – at regular intervals (normally at least weekly), a “Photowalk” venue is suggested and a meeting time and place is set. All that’s left for you to do is arrive at the required meeting point, at the correct time, with your camera (and, if necessary, tripod) in tow. Having been on a number of photowalks in the past year, I’ve enjoyed myself immensely on each one and have learnt a great deal in the process. Here’s why I love photowalking so much:
1. You’re surrounded by willing teachers
Photography is a game in which there is always something to learn. For a hack like myself, who has never taken lessons, the photowalks are an invaluable opportunity to gather hints and tips from photographers more experienced than myself. Whether it’s the advantage of increasing your ISO setting at night, or adjusting the white balance to capture the true colour of a flower, there is always a willing teacher to help you improve your photography.
2. Borrowing and experimenting with other people’s equipment
Very few photographers own all the equipment they’d like to. You’re always yearning for an additional lens or gadget that will enhance your photography. Photowalking allows you to chat to the person who has the lens you crave (in my case a Canon 10-22mm wide angle lens) and on my last photowalk I was thrilled to discover my good friend Karen was willing to lend me hers to shoot a few shots of the Sandton skyline. It gave a completely different perspective to what I could achieve with my own equipment.
3. Discover parts of the city you didn’t know existed
No matter how long you’ve lived in a city for, there will still be parts of it that you have not yet explored or possibly don’t even know existed. We’re still discovering new parts of Johannesburg, and some of that has to be attributed to the photowalks. From 5 star Sandton hotels to the back roads of the townships, you’ll gain a new awareness of the diversity of Johannesburg.
4. Access to places that are usually off-limits
All too often you’ll look at a photograph and wonder how the photographer got permission to access the top of that building or to go beyond that security perimeter. One of the great things about being a photowalker is that on many of the walks, we have organized access to locations that you’d never be able to access as a solo photographer. We’ve accessed buildings ranging from historical, derelict buildings like the Old Johannesburg General Hospital to penthouse suites in the luxury Michelangelo and Radisson Hotels. Each location provides an opportunity to shoot scenes normally out of reach.
5. Safety in numbers
If you’ve ever read up on Johannesburg, you’ll have heard the horror stories. Muggings, rapes, murders, hi-jackings…the list of horrors is endless. Except, it’s not really that bad. We live a pretty normal life in Johannesburg and know that what the media reports and what you read on the internet is nowhere close to a true reflection of life in the city. That said though, there are instances where you need to use common sense. Walking through Hillbrow flashing a DSLR and telephoto lens, or hanging around under the M1 bridge at night might not be your smartest move, but with the Photowalkers, you’re frequently in a group of 20 + photographers and often with a pre-arranged security guard, so safety is never something you need to worry about.
6. A chance to socialize
Human beings are inherently social and you can never overlook the importance of socializing “on the job”, so to speak. Joburg Photowalkers come from all walks of life – you’ll meet dyed-in-the-wool Johannesburgers, visiting out-of-towners, expat wives, professional photographers and on-location volunteers, to name but a few of our kin. With such a diverse, and large array of members, you never know what lifelong friends and business connections you might meet when you choose to walk the streets of Johannesburg with us.
For more information on the Joburg Photowalkers, or to join our merry little group, please visit the Facebook Page. If you’re interested in starting a Photowalking group in your own town or city, I’d recommend contacting one of our founders, via the Facebook Page, and enquiring as to how to best go about it.
Guest Post by Basil Stathoulis, Basil Stathoulis Art Inc.
Gl’Uomini Degli Dei – The People of the Gods
Last year we did an amazing walk above the Amalfi coast, Il Sentiero Degli Dei, “The Path of the Gods”. This ancient path was used by shepherds and traders from a mountain top village called Agerola (where, you ask?) to Positano (everybody knows where), a picturesque seaside village on the Amalfi coast and setting of the beautiful film, “Il Postino” , about a postman in love who is counselled by the greatest love poet , Pablo Neruda. The walk ends with two thousand steps descending into the village.
The views along the way are breathtaking, as your eye corners cliffs and swoops down like an eagle to the bay five hundred meters away and seven hundred meters down. Along the slopes are olive groves, vineyards, vegetable patches and patios that absorb the light showered down by the gods. The path is marked by some CAI (Club Alpino Italiano or the Alpine Club of Italy) Rosso Bianco markers. CAI members express their individuality by making new, and I am sure they think better, paths with some other combination of Bianco Rosso. You can easily lose your way at some intersections, so you have to pay attention to commune signs and old hand carved signs in wood, hung framing the island of Capri in the haze.
Everyone knows about the Amalfi coast. Everyone knows of the jewels that sparkle in the stunning vistas. But the real treasure is hidden. Walk through the arches into the main piazza of Amalfi. There is a church to your right with high steps and the large tourist outdoor cafes. I was there last year and my eye caught a young Italian beauty dancing through the crowds holding a tray of three espresso cups. I rushed to follow her under an old arcade and walked into Titziano’s pasticerie. Last year his sister was helping out as his wife had just delivered twins a few days earlier. He baptised us as travellers, not tourists, a badge we proudly wear. His miniature tarts and sweets exploded with flavours as big as mountains in your mouth. His coffee made with old plunge pressure espresso machines announced that this was historic for its difference.
Look skywards from Amalfi after a ride by tragetto (ferry) from Positano and you catch a glimpse of San Lazzaro and the edge of an old Saracen fortress. San Lazzaro is a frazione of the rough diamond of Agerola. Although it is only 5km away as the eagles swoop, they town lies 25km away by hairpin bends and narrow tar road. Last year we arrived in the pouring rain and eventually made our way to Da Ginanino’s, a restaurant just down the road where we stayed at Il Principe, a refurbished floor of rooms in an old apartment block. Named after Toto, a famous Italian comedian with a long nose and longer list of comedies, including one called “Il Principe”.
At Da Gianino we met Salvatore, the son of famous Gianino, the chef who has appeared on RAI (Italian TV) cooking shows. He has designed his own special pasta, a rotella. The rotella arrived, a Swiss roll of double pasta with mozzarella and bathed in a chunky vegetable broth. Last year Salvatore would not accept a tip, and gave us a whole lot of local cheeses, including fior di late from his brothers cheese farm, and this year he just served us a meal we did not order and then the next night took us out to a slow food restaurant in Sorrento where he learned to make pizza. And drove us back home. And delivered even more cheese to Il Principe the next morning while we slept and he started his cheese delivery rounds along the coast on a Wednesday. A package of biscotti, bagels, cheese and his own aromatic and not too sweet limoncelo from trees in his own garden. His wife Monica popped in and out of our lives in Agerola, bubbling with joy and passion, adding colour and laugher to a memorable visit to the Amalfi coast.
As you enter Sorrento there is a viewing pint over the Gulf of Naples. We watched a stunning sunset and focussed on the padlocks fixed to the railing engraved with the names of couples, engaged, married or in love. Sometimes all three. I felt like leaving one there, from us to them. Instead I wrote this to let you know about these incredible people and this amazing place.
Basil Stathoulis is a qualified orthopaedic surgeon with a passion for taking photographs. Based in Durban, South Africa, he is a Greek South African married to an Italian breast surgeon who creates beautiful food. Basil’s understanding and appreciation of quantum physics have endowned him with an understanding of light, a valuable skill that he uses to maximum effect when taking photographs. Equally passionate about writing, Basil’s words and pictures can be found on his website, Basil Stathoulis Photography & Essays.
Johannesburg is much maligned as a dangerous gangster town and and a ghetto but, truth be told, it’s no worse than the ghettos in any other city in the world. Parts of the Johannesburg CBD (Central Business District) have been undergoing regeneration and re-invention and at the heart of this upliftment is Newtown, situated west of central Johannesburg. Newtown is home to the Market Theatre, Museum Africa, trendy nightclubs and restaurants and some of the best graffiti this side of LA.
We took a trip down to Newtown on Saturday night, under the gigantic bridge that is the M1 motorway, and stumbled across a treasure chest of graffiti. The sheer skill and creativity of the artists took our breath away and, with fellow members of the Joburg Photowalkers Group, we attempted to capture some of the beauty and sheer size of the graffiti on show.
From political and social statements, to scenes from everyday Johannesburg, to reliving the sheer joy of the 2010 World Cup, we saw it all. Here are just a few of our favourite examples. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
And if that’s not enough for you, be sure to check out the rest of the pictures on Flickr!