Nowhere To Fish

Photos John Robinson

South Africa’s second quarter 2010 unemployment rate is 25.3%, The government promotes the production of food gardens, the transfer of skills, and is encouraging the development of small scale farmers. The burden of putting food in the mouths of its people is an issue that is not going away any time soon.

Yet, The City of Durban has restricted the access of fishermen to deep water piers along it’s beach front, and the Durban Port authorities have restricted access to the water in and around the port. Durban’s subsistence fishermen have fished both these waters for generations, these people have an inconsistent income at best and it has been the skills passed down from their grandfathers that has consistently put food on their tables. 

The city is promoting the city as a tourist venue of choice, it seems that the fishermen do not fit into this profile, and the port authorities talk of security risks and the national key point act.

These people are not recreational fishermen that go out on the weekends for a bit of stress relief. These fishermen will be found making ends meet every day and night depending on the conditions of the sea.

The subsistence fishermen realise that the sea is the source of their lively hood, they pay their fishing licences, they understand the sea and teach the younger men that to protect the piers is to ensure their future.

The economic woes of South Africa will not just end, “fishing is the only thing left”  says Fog who has put his kids through school with his fishing skills. The access to viable fishing piers is not being resolved, meetings are arraigned between the fishermen and the authorities, and still the authorities do not come. 

The hunger will not go away and because of this the fishermen will find a way to continue catching their fish where ever they are able. 

12 years have past and still Durban’s subsistence fishermen battle to access good fishing waters around Durban.

If you like what you have seen and read here, you can always buy me a $3.00 coffee at or PayPal.Me/jrphotographer

Re-Edit: Praying, Hands, a Gun at a Church Tent Meeting

Photos John Robinson

Tented revival meetings are a staple of the worldwide Christian evangelical movement. Amid the fears of general collapse on the eve of the year 2000, many churches in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa gathered together to see the new year in whatever it held for them…

If you like what you have seen and read here, you can always buy me a $3.00 coffee at or PayPal.Me/jrphotographer

The Camera & Coffee Sessions


The Camera & Coffee Sessions are an ongoing series of accessible, bite-sized one-hour photography lessons hosted by John Robinson. John Robinson has a passion and a long history in telling stories through still photography and photography teaching. John Robinson can be contacted on or +27836547789.

  1. Photographic Basics
  2. Depth of Field and Capturing Movement
  3. Working with Light
  4. Visual Devices in Photography
  5. The Camera in the World
  6. Small Cameras
  7. Shooting into the Light
  8. Framing the Moment
  9. Inside my Camera Bag
  10. The Camera that is in Your Hands
  11. About Editing
  12. But is it Art? A history of telling stories through photography.
  13. Fundamentals of Portraiture
  14. Connecting with the Subject
  15. Photographic Perception
  16. Photography versus Videography
  17. JPG, DNG, RAW Files in Photographic Workflow
  18. Aspects of Photographic Reality

Each session costs USD 20.00 and can be paid for through my Pay Pal account at PayPal.Me/jrphotographer

Eboundja by Reinout van den Bergh


“Home to some 30 families, the small fishing village of Eboundja is in the Océan district of southern Cameroon. Its nearly 200 villagers have been living in great insecurity about their future since 2009, the year in which Cameroonian authorities destined an 18 by 12 miles coastal zone as a domaine d’utilité publique. By decree. Its purpose being the construction of a deep sea harbour. Iron ore was found deep in the Cameroonian jungle. The Chinese government will exploit this natural resource for the upcoming 30 years. The new deep sea harbour from where the iron ore will be shipped by the Chinese is located in the centre of this earmarked coastal zone. Although the harbour is 8 miles further south of Eboundja, it is the designation of domaine d’utilité publique that makes the village vulnerable to the combination of corrupt authorities and megalomaniac developers.” – All About

The Plastic Pickers of New England Road Landfill Site

Photos John Robinson

At the New England Road landfill site in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa the plastic pikers continue to pick up things of value in a landscape dominated by a sea of plastic waste.

Through the smog and dust of the New England Road landfill site city waste department trucks are followed around by some of the city’s informal waste recyclers on the landfill site you can ask any of these people that days gold, aluminium or going mild steel price, these people will tell you what it is. These people are here for a purpose and that is to put something to eat in the mouths of families living in informal settlements in the area.

Our thirst for plastic is seen in each step I make through the waves of incoming plastic and other waste that these people pick through for value on this site. Plastic wrappers, foil snack packets that did not make the grade at some fried food maker in the city, spoiled food soft underfoot in yet more plastic and wet in the soft rain and pungent in the heat of the day just after.

Day in and day out the plastic pickers come to sift through what others did not want. Young women that in another’s life could be beauty queens but in this life are pickers of someone else’s house waste and plastic wrappers. A young man who still wears his school passing out shirt with the good wishes from classmates across his back only to wind up on one of life’s literal dump sites. Others take refuge in the inhaling of the sweet smoke of a local cannabis variety.

The New England Road landfill site landfill has a history of mismanagement. The toxic mix of plastic, domestic waste, cardboard, old computer parts burnt for four days from 20 July 2020 engulfing the city of the origin of all this waste in a toxic cloud for days.

If you like what you have seen and read here, you can always buy me a $3.00 coffee at or PayPal.Me/jrphotographer

Re-Edit: Ghraham B, Being HIV Positive

Photos John Robinson

Antiretrovirals or ARVs only became available in South Africa in early 2004. These drugs are the cornerstone of modern HIV and AIDS management… ARVs have been consistently proven to reduce death due to HIV/AIDS and to reduce the development of AIDS-defining conditions. These AIDS-defining conditions are a range of infections, cancers and illnesses that can occur due to advanced stages of HIV infection. – Courtesy of

In 2001, Ghraham B and many other HIV+ people in South Africa did not have access to Antiretroviral drugs to manage his condition. Instead, Ghraham B used his job as a hairdresser, ballroom dancing lessons with a dance partner, meditation and stress relief techniques in a support group for HIV+ people meeting at a Johannesburg shul. Ghraham B also used alternative remedies for his condition.

In 2020 we have COVID-19. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a virus that we will most likely have a working vaccine for in early 2021. In a time obsessed with COVID-19, we must remember that ARVs have just made AIDS a chronic illness, with ARVs you can expect to have a prolonged life. Before ARVs, this was just not the case…

The first case of HIV infection was in Kinshasa Congo in 1959, as yet there is currently no cure nor vaccine available for HIV.

If you like what you have seen and read here, you can always buy me a $3.00 coffee at or PayPal.Me/jrphotographer


Skater Girls by Jenny Sampson

These women are my skate sisters — we are the only ones who really know what it was like to forge that path, blaze that trail, and dare to be ‘different.’ Sometimes we were celebrated for being female, but not for the reasons we may have wanted. Other times, we were ignored because we were girls and young women …Through it all, we skated and never let any of the negatives diminish the feeling we had when we jumped on our skateboards and were flying through the bowls and pools that we loved.Cindy Whitehead, ’70s pro skateboarder, 2016 Skateboard Hall of Fame inductee

Fight Club, MMA fighting…

Photos John Robinson

Fight Club, 11 May 2003, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
High kicks and punches smack into bodies as these fighters compete.
The seconds shout instructions to their fighters.
The fancy outfits that clothed their men on that walk from the change rooms count for nought once the fight begins.
Only hard kicks, punches and submissions will stop the other man.
The meek might gain the world, but in here only the hardest man will get the purse.

3 Important Things in Telling a Story


When Telling a Story, Intercession, Photography and Writing all Play a Part in Getting the Story Out. 

Intercession |ˌɪntəˈsɛʃ(ə)n| the Action of Intervening on Behalf of Another: he only escaped ruin by the intercession of his peers with the king. The action of doing something on behalf of another: prayers of intercession.

Photograph |ˈfəʊtəɡrɑːf| A Picture Made Using a Camera, in which an image of what is focused on to light-sensitive material and then made visible and permanent by Chemical Treatment, and or digital process: A photograph of what is in front of you.

Writer |ˈrʌɪtə| A Person Who has Written Something or who Writes in a Particular Way: the writer of the article. a person who writes books, stories, or articles as a vocation or occupation: she was a prolific writer | he a writer of short stories.

I got into photography when I saw how I could put some light on some of what I saw around me in the city of Johannesburg in the 1990s. I am a photographer because through it I can tell something of what is around me, I am not a camera or photographic technophile. When I saw how I could go into a situation with a small camera and come away with tangible aspects of what was there I was officially hooked. As a photographer, I don’t feel that there is such a thing as a boring situation but there is such a thing as a boring story told.

I then started to write for myself when I needed extended captions and some short-form writing to go with the pictures I was making. Robin Comley said to me one day that in the perfect world our pictures would talk for themselves, we agreed in the end that writing could add some context but we never should double-speak to the viewer as it were. The picture and the text can work alongside each other but never repeat each other as a writer and a photographer work together on a joint job. As a writer, I am picture strong, I can get the feel of what I want in the text. I love working with a good editor can get that feeling all in line alongside my images.

After many years in this craft and after many years of hardship for many photographers in getting stories published in a ‘visual’ world, I have given much thought to what I might actually be in all this…

I am the go-between, the messenger, a soother and sometimes the grit in a shoe. The intercessor speaks for the other, the intercessor speaks to another too. The intercessor goes in between for two parties or viewpoints. Sometimes my work can be soothing like an applied balm, and at other times these perceptions can be uncomfortable truths that also need some of the light of the day.

Like any craftsman, it is not enough to just make nice chairs, for example. The craftsman has to keep a note of how his ‘chairs’ are fitting into the rooms and doing all the jobs that they were intended to do. As a photog, I have to keep a firm hold on my position-at-work as I frame images and link words for others to view and read.

If you like what you have seen and read here, you can always buy me a $3.00 coffee at or PayPal.Me/jrphotographer




#Paula Lycan


What I Love About Looking at Paula Lycan‘s Work is its Ability to Travel Through Time. These photos feel incredibly contemporary, depicting queerness in a way that is both sensitive and political. But there are also references to the early beginnings of queer photography, the textural and sensual darkroom prints of people like Peter Hujar. Paula’s construction of the visual language of the darkroom also feels like a very fresh take on visualizing queerness. Reclaiming the labor and physicality of the darkroom tangles into the physicality of the body present in Paula’s images creating a poetically intricate narrative. – LENSCRATCH