Celebrating Tourism Month

Archery in Parys

Trying my hand in Archiery at the Real adventures place in Parys, Free State province. Picture:Paballo Thekiso

My first road trip was with three of myvfriends. We planned the trip from Durban to Cape
Town in three months. We were young and carefree. We divided the trip into two parts with an overnight stay in Knysna.

For dinner we ate sushi for the first time, in a restaurant by the harbour. This was followed by a late night of drinking at the bar at the backpackers’ where we were staying before stumbling to our four-bunk bedroom in the early hours.

The next morning on the road was rough, we were tired, hungover and excited at the same time about reaching Cape Town. We arrived just before sunset at the Green Elephant backpackers in Observatory, our home for four nights.

The staff welcomed us with open arms and we formed friendships that are still alive today. We spent the days sightseeing in the CBD, shopping at the V&A Waterfront, sipping cocktails in Camps Bay and driving up Signal Hill.

2. Quad Biking in ParysPicture:Paballo Thekiso

The nights were spent playing pool in Lower Main Road Observatory and club-hopping in Long Street. Without realising it until the last night, we had spent most of our petrol money. Our parents came to our rescue, but not before scolding us for our irresponsible
behaviour. Memories from that trip remain fresh in my mind.

What made the trip extra special was we managed to save the little money we had at the time for an adventure that would see the four of us bonding… we learnt a lot about each other during the long drive in a small Corsa.

“I would like to think this trip ignited a lust for travel in each of us”

Since then, the four of us have travelled extensively in South Africa, as well as in Europe and the US. Contrary to what some might believe, one does not require a fat bank balanceto be able to travel, be it local or international. However, some saving and smart planning is key.

Common sense goes a long way. For example, buying a plane ticket a few months before you travel will be cheaper than booking the flight the day before you are due to travel.

In the past, I have taken the Greyhound bus to Durban to visit my family and overland trucks to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Namibia for holidays. The experiences are priceless.

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Queening with the BaSotho women dressed in their traditional wear called Thebetha

“Venturing out of your comfort zone and learning about other people and cultures will teach you things about yourself and the world you won’t find in a textbook”

 

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Enjoying a sunset cruise on the Vaal River. Picture by Paballo Thekiso.

One of my favourite Sho’t Left (domestic travels) trip include a visit to Joburg where I caught up with friends and family. On a recent trip there I spent a weekend in Soweto, which is home to some of South Africa’s world famous names, such as Nelson Mandela, and is known for history changing moments such as the 1976 Soweto student uprising.

During my stay there I visited the Mandela house in Vilakazi Street, a buzzing street lined with restaurants and cafés… a not so common sight for a township. There is an electrifying energy that hangs in the air that when I left, I felt empty .

Recently I paid a visit to my home town, but opted to stay at a hotel in the city centre instead of home as they were busy renovating. I saw Durban through the eyes of a tourist for the first time and I became one.

I visited art galleries, museums, took long leisurely walks on the beachfront promenade and discovered cafés where I spent hours watching people. I returned with a new-found appreciation for the city where people have no whims about striking up conversations with strangers. I realised how much I missed this simple act of ubuntu (human kindness) that is still alive there.

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Last week I spent a week in the Free State visiting several towns. It was my first time there and I experienced a number of firsts. I learnt about towns I never knew existed, such as Vredefort near Parys.

I quad biked, I tried my hand at archery and went river rafting on the Vaal River. All these sporting activities were never on my to-do-list of fun things while on a holiday before this trip.

1. L-R Liam Joyce and Nontando Mposo river rafting in the Vaal RiverLiam and I slaying. Picture:Paballo Thekiso

September is tourism month, an annual celebration focusing on the importance of tourism for the economy. The theme for this year is Tourism For All: Promoting Universal Accessibility.

It aims to encourage everyone to explore and rediscover our country. So, round up a group of friends or family for a Sho’t Left somewhere.

Visit:www@shotleft.co.za for more travel inspiration. 

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Connect with me and follow my adventures on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat @Nontando58. 

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on September 2016. 

 

AW 16, the H&M South Africa way

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Shamiel and I are wearing H& M South Africa

 

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Shamiel wears boots from H& M South Africa and I am wearing their knit dress. The rest of the clothes are our own. 

The cold winter months are here. I am not particular a fan of winter shopping but I do enjoy layering, a long stylish coat and knits. Shamiel Hagee (model and stylist, find him on Instagram: @Shamielsham) and I recently did a really cool streetstyle photo shoot with photographer Ashley Robertson (IG handle: @Majesticaash06).

Wearing the latest H& M South Africa AW16 (http://www.hm.com/za/)  range, we took over the beautiful streets of Cape Town. Here are the dope images we produced. Happy shopping Fashionistas!!!

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How amazing is this dress?!! The fit and material is just perfect. Dress by H&M South Africa.

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Dress and sequins jacket by H& M South Africa.

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Shamiel and I are wearing bomber jackets by H& M South Africa.

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Bomber jacket and knit dress by H& M South Africa

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Jacket and dress by H& M South Africa.

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This is my favourite shot. Until next time SLAY!! Find me on Snapchat: Nontando58.

Portraits share hope of addicts in recovery

Photographer Fiona McCosh, hopes to address the stigma that surrounds people who seek treatment for addiction through her "Sober and Sexy" project, a series of portraits that is currently on display at the Issi café on Bree Street

Photographer Fiona McCosh, hopes to address the stigma that surrounds people who seek treatment for addiction through her “Sober and Sexy” project, a series of portraits that is currently on display at the Issi café on Bree Street Cape Town. 

Stigma remains the biggest barrier faced by many seeking addiction treatment, making it harder for individuals and families to deal with their problems and get the help they need, says photographer Fiona McCosh.

British-born McCosh is trying to address this through a Sober and Sexy project, a series of portraits that is currently on display at the Issi café on Bree Street. The photographs are also part of a 2016 calendar of the same title, featuring individuals who are in long-term recovery from addictions such as alcoholism, gambling, eating and sex.

“I just don’t think enough people are talking about recovery… it’s still very hush-hush. One of my main motivations for this project is to encourage people to talk openly about recovery. It’s to say ‘let’s get vocal and let’s start talking about both addiction and recovery’,” she says.

picture by photographer Fiona McCosh

picture by photographer Fiona McCosh

“With the project I wanted to focus on recovery, look at the joys of recovery and the hope that there is for people to get to recovery. I think almost everyone knows someone who is in recovery or who has an addiction problem, but we just don’t talk about it because of stigma. My aim is not to name and shame, but I want to encourage people to get help and to know there is no shame in getting help… to say ‘let’s get out there and be proud to be sober and sexy’,” McCosh says

I meet McCosh at the trendy eatery where the 12 black and white portraits in her series hang on the walls. She is also a recovering addict, and appears in the calendar for the month of September.

McCosh was 39 years old when she reached “rock bottom”.

“I had a problem with alcohol all my life and I am an addict. I did get physically addicted to several drugs of choice and towards the end I was into a cocktail, moving from one drug to another. When one drug stopped working I would try another one… it’s called crossed addiction,” she says.

“At my rock bottom, I felt ugly and hopeless and was in a state of terror for my body as I was combining street drugs and prescription drugs… I was miserable, but I was just about coping. When I hit rock bottom I was given six months to live. They often say don’t deny someone that rock bottom because that is where you get the gift of desperation.”

“I was a mess and I couldn’t see a way out and that’s when I rang my mother and she took me to rehab in the UK. That didn’t work out and it was suggested that I come to South Africa,” she explains.

Picture by photographer Fiona McCosh

Picture by photographer Fiona McCosh

McCosh says she came to Cape Town for rehab in 2010. With only a backpack,
she was planning to stay for just a month.

“I never intended to stay this long, I have friends here now… it’s a clean slate. What is there not to love about Cape Town? The weather is great, the mountains, the sea and it’s cheaper than London… it’s my new home,” she says.

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But she’s also learnt that recovery is not easy.  “Recovery can be a frightening place in the early days. It is hard to trust people, an emotional rawness seems ever-present and often it feels as if life will always be this way. In time, with help, we can and do recover.

With this project I wanted to give back to the recovery community,” says McCosh.

The idea of a naked calendar came from the true story of The Calendar Girls, a hit movie about a group of British women who produced a nude calendar to raise money for leukaemia research.

“I tried to get as wide a variety of people in the exhibition as possible because addiction does not discriminate. Anyone can get it and it doesn’t matter where you are from. If you want recovery you can find it in the 12-step programme.

“This is my experience in terms of getting clean and pretty much all of the models featured in the calendar have gone have gone through hell, I have been through hell,” she explains.

“The images represent a positive message of hope and my deepest wish is that people who think that they might have a problem or know someone who has a problem are encouraged to seek help,” says McCosh.

“I think that most people generally think that once an addict, always an addict, but we can live happy, free and joyous lives. I am now free from cravings. I have a full life with friends, genuine friends, whereas in the past I only had the drinking and the using.

“It was a miserable existence, but now I have peace and serenity… not only am I clean but I am treating myself with respect and I get a decent night’s sleep.”

The Sober and Sexy calendars cost R200 each. They are available at Issi and nationwide at http://www.soberand sexy.co.za. All proceeds will be donated to the Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre for the treatment of those who can’t afford it.

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on October 5 2015.

Symbolism… and ‘an eye for for the unusual’

'In with the new' by Justin Dingwall

‘In with the new’ by Justin Dingwall

Recognised locally and internationally for his portraiture, contemporary artist and commercial photographer Justin Dingwall describes himself as someone who possesses “an eye for the unusual, a passion to explore avenues less travelled and the desire to create images that resonate with emotion”.

The Joburg-based Dingwall recently exhibited a series of portraits, Albus at the FNB Joburg Art Fair held at the Sandton Convention Centre last month, featuring a series of striking photographs of Durban- born model Sanele Xaba, who has albinism.

Dingwall also made the top 10 list of visual artists in The Absa L’Atelier Art Competition 2014, an annual art award competition for South African visual artists between the ages of 21 and 35. The Tshwane University of Technology graduate says the imagery he creates is not bound by language or culture. Instead, he wants his work to speak for itself and for people to interpret it in their own way.

Dingwall explains more about his work and what inspires him.

Sanele Xaba by Justin Dingwall

Sanele Xaba by Justin Dingwall

How did you start the craft of photography? I have always been very artistic, but the first time I picked up a camera was at the age of 18 when I applied to Tshwane University of Technology.

Tell us about the ‘Albus” portrait series, what inspired it and what message did you hope to communicate with it?   The discourse about albinism is generally avoided as taboo in the South African context. When discussed, it is usually viewed as negative or as a sought-after “oddity” in fashion and art trends. My aim is to create an intimate perspective to foreground the myths surrounding albinism.

“This series developed into an exploration of the aesthetics of albinism in contrast to the idealised perceptions of beauty.”

It began as an interest to capture something not conventionally perceived as “beauty”. I began this project with the ethereal portraits of Thando Hopa, a legal prosecutor who is using her visibility to address the negative perceptions surrounding albinism. The inspiring new work features Xaba, a young model with albinism, and uses specific elements to foreground the symbolic meaning behind each work.

“My intention is for the images to become a celebration of beauty in difference. They are not about race or fashion, but about perception, and what we subjectively perceive as beautiful.”

I wanted to create a series of images that resonate with humanity and make people question what is beautiful… to me diversity is what makes humanity interesting and beautiful. The symbols of light and dark are a reflection of my medium.

I use the characteristic nature of photography to capture a unique frame of reference and paint with light in such a way as to represent the revealing of the unseen.

Light represents truth, and it is contrasted against the element of darkness to emphasise the unenlightened state of mind of previous misconceptions.

Water is another element l use to reflect society’s perceptions. Water suggests self reflection and it is often used in literature as a symbol of change.

'Reveal' by Justin Dingwall

‘Reveal’ by Justin Dingwall

The snake connotes transformation – as in the shedding of old skin to make way for new and also, as in medical discourse, to represent healing. The butterflies aim to influence the
viewer’s vision to be transformed, allowing them to view albinism in a new light – as something unique and beautiful.

'Mob' by Justin Dingwall

‘Mob’ by Justin Dingwall

“Butterflies go through a major metamorphosis, and embrace change unquestioningly. For this reason, they have become symbols of growth, surrender, transition, celebration, resurrection and fragility.”

What would you list as your best accomplishments?  My career highlights include my Albus exhibition, which is a major milestone, shooting for Adobe (The creators of Photoshop and Indesign) and creating a mosaic with 48 other artists from around the world that was exhibited at the Lincoln Centre in New York for the launch of Adobe Creative Cloud, and winning the image and magazine cover of the year 2015 at the Caxton awards. And that I have exhibited in London, Seattle, South Africa and New York.

What is your favourite photo shoot you have done over the years and why?  There are way too many to count, but one that really stands out was when I flew to Zanzibar for a week to photograph the actress Terry Pheto from the movie Tsotsi for a magazine cover, inside story, as well as a portrait shoot of a fishing village on the north coast of Zanzibar.

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What/who inspires you and now? Every day life inspires me, but I also do a lot of research. I am inspired by many great artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, Lucian Freud, Charles Thomas “Chuck” Close and Eloy Morales.

And photographers Richard Avedon and Roger Ballen.

Before I became a photographer I was an assistant for four years, and learnt from many local, as well as international, photographers the craft of photography.

But if I have to single out two photographers that have influenced my career, it would be Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz.

“Their dedication, time spent crafting, researching, production and planning to produce a single photograph is very inspiring.”

A place in the world that you have not been you would like to photograph? Without question, India. It looks like an engaging, colourful, chaotic, beautiful country. I have heard from friends and family that it engages all of your senses – all of them, nearly all of the time. I also have a soft spot for Italy.

What are the greatest challenges to making it as a photographer or an artist in South Africa?  As a freelance photographer you can never sit on your laurels, if you aren’t working you aren’t earning. You constantly have to be promoting yourself and getting your work out into the market.

“The very early mornings and the very late nights. But one of the most important things is to be a problem solver. You have to be able to think on your feet.”

What cameras do you use and how important is photoshop to your final images? I use both digital and film. When I shoot film I use a Hasselblad medium format camera and when I shoot digital I use Canon or Hasselblad.

When I started studying and working as a photographer there were no digital cameras, only film. So it was very important to get everything 100 percent correct before shooting. I still live by that principle, but Photoshop is an important tool.

Justin Dingwall

Justin Dingwall

Who is a young or emerging photographer or artist you consider one to watch at the moment?   Tony Gum. I recently viewed her work at the FNB Joburg Arts Fair and she is creating some amazing self-portraits.

        “I live by these two quotes: Gary Player: “The harder I work, the luckier I get,” and “You reap what you sow.”

This feature first appeared in the Cape Argus on September 30 2015.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town (MBFWCT) 2015 Trends Report

Tuelo Nguyuza By SDR Photo

Tuelo Nguyuza By SDR Photo

Flirty and feminine dresses and skirts in bold colours are back, and women will find themselves renewing their relationship with neon, eye-popping brights this spring and summer.

Designers Danielle Margaux, Habits and Lazuli led the colour revolution at a fashion event held in the city at the weekend. Their designs came in crop-tops, jumpsuits, kimono-style dresses and boho gypsy skirts. Another trend, as seen on the international runways, is wearing sneakers with dresses, skirts and suits, and presentations by local designers Adriaan Kuiters, Jody Paulsen and Leigh Schubert showed us how to get the trend just right. Kuiters and Paulsen’s collection, inspired by the artistic patterns of David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein and Sol Lewitt, presented an impressive sportsluxe collection of soft, neutral and bold prints paired with sneakers. Schubert paired romantic floral dresses with palladium sneakers.

Adriaan Kuiters and Jody Paulsen by SDR Photo

Adriaan Kuiters and Jody Paulsen by SDR Photo

Industry experts and fashionistas converged on the V&A Waterfront’s Watershed and North Wharf for the annual Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town (MBFWCT).
Twenty-four of the country’s top designers unveiled their spring and summer 2016 collections with multiple shows over the three-day period.

The collections included a range of ready-to-wear pieces, sports wear and swimwear, as well as wedding couture.

Noticeable trends included shoulder-baring silhouettes, and prints and patterns such as stripes, lace, floral and African prints on everything from dresses to jumpsuits. 

David Tlale by SDR Photo

David Tlale by SDR Photo

The collections included arange of ready-to-wear pieces,sports wear and swimwear,as well as wedding couture.Other noticeable trendsincluded shoulder-baring silhouettes,and prints and patterns suchas stripes, lace, floral and African prints on everything from dresses to jumpsuits.

Highlights included the David Tlale showcase held on Saturday morning at the Gallery MOMO in Buitengracht Street.

The fashion guru launched his bridalcollection, combining sheer and see through silhouettes in powder blue, yellow, multi-coloured animal print and metallic emerald-green for the adventurous bride.

“We are breaking all the rules of the traditional bride, but we are still keeping it chic and bold. “People have been brainwashed to wear white dresses with your typical lace adorned with Swarovski crystals to look like Cinderella,” says Tlale.

“Launching bridal-wear was a natural progression as a brand. “We are known for high-end couture and beautiful ready-to-wear pieces and it’s time we started embracing our brides because we have had big business on bridal wear that we never launched,” he
adds

David Tlale by SDR Photo

David Tlale by SDR Photo

Christiaan Gabriel du Toit of Klûk CGDT opted out of the traditional runway show, instead staging an exhibition at CAAM Collective Gallery at the De Waterkant Fringe.

The exhibition, KLuKCGD Tartisan, held in collaboration with Levi’s, includes photographic
prints by 10 of South Africa’s leading fashion photographers, among them: Trevor Stuurman, Sivan Miller, Neil Roberts and Simon Deiner. It runs until Saturday.

KLuKCGD Tartisan exhibition by SDR Photo

KLuKCGD Tartisan exhibition by SDR Photo

“This is a huge denim season and although it is something we toy with often, we have never really experimented with the options.

“We also wanted to show our clothes in a different way, something more lasting that allows the client to get a longer impression of the garments,” says Kluk.

“We chose the creatives based on our experience with them. “They are energetic
and passionate about what they do, they have been proactive in their careers and this excited us. “We also love the diversity in their work and personalities and it was important to let them shine,” he says.

Regarding the trends for the summer, Du Toit says that these are so diverse that they always take a southern hemisphere perspective on what is happening internationally.

“We take trends as a guide, not a bible. We know our customers and their lifestyle and their likes and dislikes and tailor the trends to suit them. “We love fabric and sometimes that dictates what we make.”

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on August 5 2015.

Stefania Morland by SDR Photo

Stefania Morland by SDR Photo

Marianne Fassler by SDR Photo

Marianne Fassler by SDR Photo

Marianne Fassler by SDR Photo

Marianne Fassler by SDR Photo

Marianne Fassler by SDR Photo

Marianne Fassler by SDR Photo

Lazuli by SDR Photo

Lazuli by SDR Photo

Imprint by SDR Photo

Imprint by SDR Photo

Imprint by SDR Photo

Imprint by SDR Photo

Imprint by SDR Photo

Imprint by SDR Photo

Here are a few backstage pictures by photographer Neil Roberts.I love his cool unique style. Visit www.nrm.me for more of his work. 

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Meet Tony Gum

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Tony “Zipho” Gum’s fresh and intriguing visual imagery is creating a stir. Her work, published on her blog spot, tumblr and social media platforms, is getting national attention and has earned her an impressive following. The most recent, “The Coke Evolution: Black Coca- Cola” features Gum in a series of photographs, in different poses and attires with
a Coca-Cola bottle. We get to know the 19-year -old “allrounder” creative who calls Pinelands home, but credits her early childhood in Langa for the the “energetic mindset” she has today.

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How would you describe yourself? I enjoy solitude a lot; mainly because it allows me the time to bask in my thoughts. I appreciate meaningful encounters and fruitful conversations. I’m a hectic beat devotee and when the relevant time of retirement comes, I hope to produce soulful beats till my heart is content.

I love dancing and I have this obscure obsession with dancers, mainly because I
respect them. I have this weird affection at times and an undying kind of love for my family.

I don’t take the term “friend” lightly, I believe true friendship is earned and learned over a period of time. I am also an observer; I tend not to say much so I express myself through visuals.

Tell us about your creative journey?
My creative journey is one that is still evolving… Growing up in kwaLanga township, a place that I believe is the root of creativity, made the transition to living in a suburb (Pinelands) quite unbearable at first as I was young at the time.

But my upbringing is something that I enjoy speaking about. I believe that the bliss and the still very vivid memories of living in kwaLanga had so much to do with the energetic mindset that I have today.

I didn’t have friends in my new Pinelands neighbourhood, children didn’t come out to play. It was strange but, as time passed, I grew accustomed to the lifestyle. When my father had the internet installed at our home, I discovered that there is much more to the internet than just Google. It became my playground. It was the portal to everything I wanted to expose my eyes to: quality and quantity. I surfed the internet for hours at a time.
I “hired” my cousin, who was 12 years old at the time, to take pictures of me showcasing my outfits in various and sometimes dangerous locations. I was 15 years old when I started blogging.

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What inspired the “The Coke Evolution: Black Coca-Cola” series and what
message, if any, do you hope to communicate with it?

Largely consumed by black people in South Africa, I feel that Coke needs an individual that black people are able to relate to – culturally mostly. And what better way to share that opinion than through my own cultural experience.

As simple as the beverage may be in comparison to the Xhosa culture and its traditions, together they complement and elevate each other. In other words, I want the relationship between the product and the consumer to be more than just “a purchase”. I want it to be a proud and sentimental experience. The moment the consumer realises that Coke is now
touching on relatable terms, that’s when a connection is made, that’s when Coke is no longer “just a Coke”, that’s when greatness is shared.

(But) I encourage the viewer to also create their own understanding of the series.

What would you list as your most notable accomplishments so far?
I’ve never been fulfilled with the title “blogger”, it just seemed too boring. Being recognised as an artist on the other hand feels like power. I am represented by the Christopher Moller Art Gallery in Gardens. Now I know my “artist” title is real, it’s exciting.
I also got the opportunity to do a “cross continental” collaboration with Teff The Don, also known as The Expressionist, a New York photographer. It was an experience that kept me on the edge 24/7.

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What or who inspires you?I can’t necessarily pinpoint and narrow it down to who or what inspires me. I’m an observer and I seek inspiration through my daily observations.

Which photographers influenced you – your thinking, photography, and career
path? I have so much respect for Teff The Don’s attention to composition and colour. Gabriella Achadinha is officially the queen of the film in my eyes. Artist and photographer Nakeya B’s conscious concepts are impeccable and Dutch Vogue contributor Ivania Carpio is the reason why I can proudly say that one day I’ll drop my bags of colour to become a devoted minimalist.
Because of such people, I’ve come to appreciate and focus on the importance of what is in the frame. I don’t generally work with a good camera and at times I just use my cellphone. Attention to detail is what I could say is my forté.

What is it you want to say with your photographs and how do you actually go about achieving that?
Visuals are important. I live by three rules when it comes to my work: composition, aesthetics and consistency. How I go about doing so? Once I’m set on how the subject will look, I then look for elements or props that will be used to enhance the focus on the subject. Complementary backdrops/backgrounds are very much taken into consideration.

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When did you first become interested in photography?
I can’t say that I’m generally interested in photography. Rather, I’m interested in what’s in the frame. I haven’t had the privilege of working with a photographer who understands the vision, that is why I’ve taken the liberty of playing the role of a photographer.

How would you describe your photographic vision and style, and what kind of look do you try and create in your photos? It’s like a Wes Anderson film but in stills, interconnected with artist Hassan Hajjaj’s astonishing portraits. Simple, yet striking.

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Who were the mentors who helped shape your style, and who would you count among your biggest influences, photographically or otherwise?
Jesus, a true representation of selfless love and peace, is truly inspiring. My brother, his business mindset and his experience in the art definitely helps with my gathering my thoughts out of the clouds. And my parents, they are so supportive of the indecisive creative that I am.

If you could visit and photograph any place in the world that you haven’t been to, where would that be? Nairobi, Kenya – considering the fact that I’ve nicknamed myself
“Naairobi Naairobi”. Morocco may take the cup as my dream destination. It looks packed
with colour, organic and rich in culture and religion – it’s a dream.

What are the greatest challenges in making a living as a photographic artist and what is key to succeeding at it? The challenges I’m facing at the moment are the resources. I still don’t even have a proper photographic camera, but I’ve come to learn that such challenges are not impossible to decipher; they can be faced and challenged, literally.

I’ll never forget the day my brother was driving me to my first photoshoot as Tony Gum. I was ecstatic, busy raving about all the things I needed to get because I had finally made my “big break”. He just simply said: “Work with what you’ve got.”

His words flew right past me because at that very moment they meant zilch to
me. I needed the latest Canon , the finest attire – in essence, I wanted the best of the
best. He went on to ask: “Do you have a camera? Just use what you have. It’s been working for you thus far.”
Challenges are blessings, more so, they are lessons. I’ve come to understand them as diamonds in the rough.

One just needs to work hard so that you can see the results of your challenges are equal to diamonds.

Check out more of her work here>>tonygum.blogspot.com/ OR tonygumonline.tumblr.com/

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on June 10 2015

Model and Blogger Emma Jane Menteath of My Life in Pink

Picture by Justin Polkey

Picture by Justin Polkey

Social media has brought on the rise of the “fashion influencer”, making it possible for fashion bloggers to earn a living through their blogs and social media accounts. More and more brands are investing in these self-styled tastemakers, not only for product review but to align themselves with a certain market.

Picture by Justin Polkey

Picture by Justin Polkey

Model and fashion blogger Emma Jane Menteath, whose blog “My Life in Pink” is a go-to source for fresh fashion ideas and inspiration, is one of a few who has developed a winning formula.

“I started generating an income two months after launching my blog. I think it’s mostly because I’m very business-oriented. I had a business-like way of approaching clients and letting people know who I was. It’s important to know how to market yourself in a correct way.

Sometimes people see you as self-centred if you are pushing yourself and your brand, but if you don’t market yourself who else is going to do it?” says Menteath.

My Life in Pink is not only a fashion blog but it documents Menteath’s travels and love of food. Fashion blogs are visually driven and most bloggers often lose readers’ interest with low quality content and pictures, says Menteath.

With one of South Africa’s top fashion and portrait photographers Justin Polkey taking photographs of Menteath at home and abroad, her posts are professional and a feast of creativity and ideas.

“That is partly why my blog succeeded so fast. Putting my modelling aside, I have a top photographer working with me and shooting my stuff… we make quite a good team.

Picture by Justin Polkey

Picture by Justin Polkey

“South African bloggers need to focus more on the quality of their images. If the quality of your images is better, you can demand more from brands that want to work with you. Blogging has been a big industry for a while now and everyone wants to get involved, but a lot of people don’t really know how to go about doing it.

“It’s great when you start out, but if you have a blog that is good quality and you are producing quality images it shouldn’t be free. You are providing clients with content and advertising… bloggers shouldn’t be afraid to stand up and ask for something in return,” says Menteath during our interviewat a coffee spot in Kloof Nek, with Polkey in tow.

Freebies and exclusive invites to events are all part of a blogger’s life, but bloggers should be more selective of the brands and products they align themselves with, says Menteath.

“I find that most bloggers are scared to ask for things. If a client approaches them with some free things, they just say yes and not like ‘here is my rate card if you want to work with me’. A lot of clients know that they can get away with offering bloggers nothing but free products.”

Pictures by Justine Polkey

Pictures by Justine Polkey

Menteath, whose favourite local bloggers include Trevor Stuurman, New Hipster and Niquita Bento, started My Life in Pink as a Tumblr site about five years ago to keep her parents updated on her travels.

“Instagram became this huge thing and I realised that there is this online environment that allows you to be creative and where you are able to share a part of you with the world.

“I named it My Life in Pink because I was obsessed with the colour pink at the time. I like what the colour symbolises – happiness and fun… I don’t wear it that much but I love it,” says Menteath, whose favourite international bloggers are Margaret Zhang, Kayture and the Oracle Fox Blog.

Picture by Justin Polkey

Picture by Justin Polkey

When the 23-year-old Bachelor of Business Administration student at Unisa is not shooting for fashion editorials and campaigns for local and international clients, she is in Europe or the US.

“My favourite city to visit is Istanbul in Turkey; it’s so special. The people there have such an energy about them. The city is so real and so alive with culture, tastes and smells.”

A model with Outlaws Model Agency, she was spotted by a scout at 17 during her matric year at Parel Vallei High School in Somerset West.

“I started modelling in my final year of school and as soon as I finished school I went overseas. Secretly I wanted to be a model in my teens, but I was the ugly duckling at school. I was very odd looking, extremely pale and had pimples everywhere. Before I was scouted I had approached modelling agencies and they had turned me down… when I decided to give up on it, it happened.”

Picture by Justin Polkey

Picture by Justin Polkey

Menteath made her debut appearance at the New York Fashion Week last year after she was scouted by an agent for The Lions Model Management .

“I always thought that Cape Town was more fashion forward than Johannesburg,
but when I was in Joburg recently I was impressed; people there are looking good.

“I do think we (South Africa) still have a lot to learn when it comes to fashion, but that is understandable because we were excluded from the world for a long time. Social media has definitely opened up the world for people to see what is happening (everywhere). I am
impressed with what SA’s young designers are doing.

“It’s a little sad because you see these young designers during fashion weeks for two or three seasons and because of finances their lines don’t continue. It will be really exciting if corporates or people could support them (so)… they could carry on showing.”

Menteath’s advice for young models is to have a back-up plan because the
industry is unpredictable and fickle.

“I would never recommend anyone do full-time modelling if they only stay in South Africa. It’s fine to model full-time if you are going to travel because you will be opening yourself up to other markets and new clients.

Picture by Justin Polkey

Picture by Justin Polkey

“As a model I was just an ingredient in the whole creation of something beautiful, a fashion editorial or a TV ad. But now, I model, style and art direct the whole blog look post. I’m not just an ingredient anymore; I am involved in the creation process.”

Picture by Justin Polkey

Picture by Justin Polkey

Menteath’s 5 must-have winter items:
1. The “it-shoe”, knee high boots: Flat sole or block heel, the knee high boot is a must-have this season. Show some skin for a touch of sexiness by teaming it with a mini skirt.

2. Sweater up: For a more modern take on the knit, try the oversize chunky polar neck teamed with a button-up mini skirt.

3. Top coat: Be it the shelling jacket or glamorous faux fur, it’s time to embrace this warm and fuzzy trend.

4. A touch of Seventies: It’s time to shelve those skinnies and embrace the flare. Add a touch of fringe or layer your polar necks underneath your dresses and dungarees. It’s the retro revival.

5. Keep it simple: Think clean lines, neutral palettes and white sneakers. We can all learn a thing or two from the Scandinavians this season.

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on June 5 2015