THE INTER PRAYER ROOM, DENIS HURLEY CENTRE

“If you are foreigner man living in Durban this program is gonna help you to improve your health and to prevent some kinds of diseases which can lead you to early death…”

The late winter sun and the hustling of taxis filter through the window to my back, I know Dr Emmanuel Tshimanga as a Congolese parking attendant at Davenport Shopping Centre here in Durban, South Africa. The Emmanuel in front of me here glows with some sort of inner light, he has such piercing eyes, doing now what has been bubbling up within him, trained as a doctor in the DRC and now just waiting for his South African Health Council number, he is here advising fellow foreign men on how to cope with their health.

The tall standing figure of Dr Tshimanga flows without effort between French, kiSwahili and English using voice, eyes and hands to get the 3 men on my right up to speed on the subject of stress.

I will come back for pictures when I have consent from the Director and of all in this room. For now I am just seeing my friend in a new light.

I now have some European editors in waiting for my proposed inner Durban City stories…

But without connection and trust these sort of stories will never touch down on sensor or film as still to be decided, so today is about connecting with a friend and building a trust for tomorrow…

 

 

 

…PHOTOGRAPHY A MIDDLE BROW ART

MOUNTAIN RISE GRAVE YARD - GRASS CUTTER II
A worker pauses from clearing graves for a smoke.

As JP Sudre states in Photography A middle-brow Art. “The subject that I photograph is ephemeral… photography alone captures a precise moment… which disappears and which cannot be brought back to life, hence my distress and also the essential originality of my profession. What could be more transient then a facial expression? Within these words of Sudre lies the importance of the cameras we as photographers use. Alongside the importance of the ephemeral moments that photography alone can capture, revisting the technology inherent in the camera systems that we use, as photographers trying to capture these moments, is of great importance too. I as a photographer use a ‘M6 rangefinder camera for important personal projects when possible.

FAMILY PORTRAITURE…

ROANNE TRIGG
ROANNE TRIGG, Photo John Robinson

Portraiture has been at the heart of photography from the start. A good portrait is much more then a likeness of someone, a good portrait tells something about the subject, like the importance of family for Roanne Trigg in the above photograph. To do this the photographer and subject need a base of trust and to connect first, only then the spirit might come through the lens and touch down the sensor and then only for a micro second… John Robinson

BANELE KHOSA @ LOOKING FOR LOVE, DAG, SOUTH AFRICA…

photos John Robinson.

Award winning painter Banele Khosa stands with his acrylic and ink on canvas art work I am sorry I doubted you in the Durban Art Gallery. 21 May 2019, Durban, South Africa.

FREEDOM DAY WALK, DURBAN

On 27 April 2019 people across Durban celebrated 25 years of democratic freedom in South Africa with a walk on the beach front stopping for prayer, praise, declarations and an open air communion service on the sand. The walk was finished off with collecting litter off the beach. – John Robinson

THOUGHTS WHILE WATCHING THE GOOD DOCTOR SEASON ONE

1200x627-Q80_d970024e1e411bee6f4fef77b3ee6040

I know of a family who’s daughter bounced out of a coma after massive brain trauma.

She will do somethings a little different now and other things way better then those around her; and to her parents I say not all is lost and much is gained too.

The Good Doctor is a television series about a gifted young surgeon in a hospital who also happens to be autistic. While the surgeon in The Good Doctor is a surgeon way above par, he battles to cope with social skills, obsesses about things and gets visibly upset because the handy man in the building where he lives fixes something that was not on his “to fix list”.

I cheer, laugh out loud and cry while watching The Good Doctor. The producers of the show have captured realities of post brain injury life. The presence of being a bit weird to others, not always having the word you really wanted and knowing that my left hand likes to do the funky without telling me first. On the other hand being so focused and perceptive now that I feel that my photography is enhanced and that the pictures I now take are some of the best and better then before I had my stroke in 2012.

I don’t want other’s pity, I am comfortable in my skin now as I now know the new me and am leaving that somewhat arrogant person in the past; there is no reversing option after coming around after a stroke in a hospital bed. There is no going back after brain injury, you have got what you have now got, like wetting my hospital bed ’cause my muscle control had to be still relearned. With time you realise that you have got more then first realised too. Rather then your pity I always like a bit of space when my brain is ‘rebooting’; often you won’t even realise that I am in pause mode as it only takes about 20 seconds and I am a master at masking when it happens in public.

While in that hospital bed I talked with a doctor doing her rounds “ma’am, people are supposed to die from strokes”. The doctor just said “yes”. A stroke is devastating. As devastating as it has been, my stroke has also proved to me a life changing event too. I live consciously now, every day, each day, I smell, see things as never before and I am stronger in mind and body then ever before.

I am shit awful at religion and in that class I am bad Johnny at the back, but I sense a greater being, I so believe. I believe in a God that let his son die a public death in Palestine and loves me more then any parent loves their child. Belief is different to religion, it’s not like a brittle dead stick, it has flex and it is so strong.

I really like my whole self now with all the quirks and yes my favourite colour is magenta. A friend who knew me pre stroke said that I seem different “you are more tender now, I recognise you as John but you have changed”. My CT scan report includes the following; “A large wedge shaped hypo density involving the grey and white matter is noted in the right frontal region with involvement of the insular region and the right basal ganglia… in keeping with right chronic MCA territory infarct”. I am not medically trained and I do not know what my right frontal region does or does not do now, but I do know about living in my body post stroke. I find other words when the ‘right’ word is not there anymore. Day to day I have slight fine motor skill loss in my left hand, a very slight weakness in my left lower leg and foot. I find that eating with my right hand is easier, riding a bicycle is better then walking long distances and living as though each day is a gift as I could have been already dead as the lady doctor said.

I would not like to back track anymore if it were even possible, I am now accepting of my self and I am a lot more accepting of others too. Though I cope much better when in a congruent situation be that my home office or on a bicycle rush hour traffic and I am so much more perceptive now.

I would not wish a stroke on anyone, but my brain injury has come to me as a bit of a gift in disguise and life is short enough as it is to not take hold of what is. – John Robinson

 

BEVERLEY GURU GIRL BURNE @ WORK

Beverley and I were at design school together, she discovered her inner guru and I discovered those moments that are fleeting just like a cat in your garden… JR

WHILE TAKING PICTURES IN THE SUDAN…

 

In 2004 I was in The Sudan taking pictures for an international pacifist aid agency.

After taking pictures in IDP camps in Darfur of people who were raped, burned and generally f***ed up by the Sudanese government backed Janjaweed militia. I was stopped by security officers at the Nyala Airport on our way back to Khartoum with my camera, detailed notes and the client’s 40 rolls of films… I was allowed onto the flight with the assurance that I would be taken aside by more government men on landing in Khartoum.

While we flew out of Darfur a deep sense of peace descended down over me while sitting in that seat on the Marsland Aviation Tupolev airplane , I prayed to God for a way out, heard a voice saying that I was his loved son had to just accept his peace and walk on… He would position the hole in the net that I was caught in, I just had to walk on and trust him to do the rest.

I looked around the cabin for government agents, I was trying to do things my way and the deep sense of peace lifted up off me with the words “do you want my peace or not?” I re accepted the peace and it fell right down tangibly over me again.

I walked down off the Tupolev on the airport apron with my camera, notebook and film right pass a reception of about 6 men who did nothing to stop me, again in the airport building 2 police officers ran into the terminal building where we landed looking for someone again they ran right straight past me.

A few days later an Italian Roman Catholic nun approached me in the Athbarah Comboni Mission Centre; she said that she just had to hug me because she felt that I needed it; and I did need it after Darfur.

Back at our hotel in Khartoum a journalist from a Nairobi based news service offered to secret my film out of the country with all their camera kit for me…

I believe that God is true to his word; and loves us so deeply and can be trusted. He did position holes right where I needed them and I, my kit and pictures got out of the net that I felt to be caught in in The Sudan and then added a much needed hug because he can.

SHOOTING IN A QUIET PLACE

The relationship between people and their God is a soulful place, belief is such a strong force; and there is very little that can break that system. I know this from my own relationship with God or Abba Father. I commune and walk in this space too.

To take out a camera in a place of worship is not something I can do lightly, I have to be trusted and walk through these flowers with out a hint of damage, each picture will be seen by those in that place and as a fellow worshipper I am not an outsider that can get away and never come back after the stems are broken and petals crushed.

The moments taken are considered first before committed to a place in the public space. I also know of no better tool then a 35mm film based rangefinder camera for this work, there is no hurry in this way of work; and thus plenty of time for the considering of the fall out from my actions on the day…