Me half way up some stairs in Kinshasa, DRC. Photo John Robinson.
As a self confessed visual poet and spirit thief, I will do well as a photographer to make some of my own spirit more available to the people around me.
In a conversation with T-Bone at the BAT Centre in Durban about the tangibility of the substance of a good photograph, I realized that as a photographer I am able to connect with the spirit of others and or the spirit of the moment before my lens but I am hard pressed to share my self with those around me on a daily basis.
T-Bone asked me if there was a tangible transfer of something when a photograph is taken “like in drama on the theatre stage” I said a big yes to his question, T-Bone is a drama specialist at the BAT Centre. I have seen many ‘stiff’ or ‘dead’ photographs to conclude that something of the ‘spirit’ or the ‘moment’ resides in some other photographs. I told T-Bone that a photographic image that speaks to the viewer is the same as the stage drama that speaks to someone in the audience in this sense.
Take my camera out of my hands and I become a bit of stiff too, but I am learning to loosen up on my spirit in the social sense, it’s hard, but I am making headway. I don’t like the word ‘networking’ and I am an useless networker, but I like the word ‘connect’ and as a photographer I understand the concept. By connecting my spirit with those of others, those others may too get a hold on who I am as a person, while I get a hold on something of their spirits. We are members of human race and all have something in common; and it is for us to find out what our commonalities are and blossom together if possible.
As a narrative photographer I am a task master at lurking on the edge of an activity with my ‘M6 and getting away with some of the gold on offer. As a member of the same race that I shoot I am too now more giving of my own spirit to those others around me. It’s like giving back of what I have gotten over the years as a photog; and it’s good for me too. I am freed up to just be me more often, and in front of others too.
They say “live by the sword and die by the sword”… I add to this by saying I can also live more fully too before the end comes as it will for everyone of us.
6 tips on entering for World Press Photo from a 2016 judge…
Julius Malema; the young vocal leader of EFF is a festering thorn in the side of many South Africans who support the Democratic Alliance. ‘Juju’ as he is known on the streets of South Africa is known for anti eurocentric rants like “one boer one bullet”.
Julius Malema came out of the ranks of Jacob Zuma’s ANC as the leader of their youth wing, he was also a close supporter of Jacob Zuma. Disgruntled, Malema left the ANC to form the Economic Freedom Fighters a vocal leftist political party with much inside knowledge of the ANC. The EFF are now in overall third place in the South African Local Government 2016 elections. Juju is now in the position of king maker to the Democratic Alliance to the ire of some of its pale supporters in some areas where there is no outright winner in these elections.
South Africa is now in the age of coalition politics whether some people in the country like it or not…
‘Akon’ is a Congolese barber who styles hair in a converted shipping container in the city of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. He shares the salon with four other Congolese barbers, these congolese are well known for their “style” and are in demand for their hair cutting skills in South Africa. A hair cut at Akon’s Hair Salon will cost you about 3 to 5 Dollars, there is a steady flow of customers at the salon. A local basket ball star who only gets his hair cut by ‘Akon’ says “these guys are the best, they just have a style that our local barbers don’t have”.
There are many Congolese working in South Africa as hair stylists, all of them have their own horror stories to tell. South Africa has a reputation for xenophobia , or the fear of foreigners. There have been many incidents where South Africans have burnt and killed people just because they talk in foreign languages.
‘Akon’ (not his real name), is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Akon says; “my mother was killed by Joseph Kibila’s men, she opened the front door of her home and they put 3 bullets in her chest… my mother was a supporter of Jean Pierre Bemba” who is a Congolese opposition political leader.
‘Akon’ now lives in South Africa with his wife and children, ‘Akon’ wants only to improve the life of his two children, thinking about his mother he says “I can do anything but kill someone…”