Silver Award – London Photographic Association

I entered the London Photographic Association’s ‘Let’s Face It’ Portrait Award earlier this year and received some awesome news:) My portrait of a father and daughter (below) has been awarded Silver, and my portrait of young South African Tshepo Moche came in Highly Commended. 

You can read the short interview right here: Kathalijne van Zutphen. The full profile is right here.

Super excited!

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Updated

It’s been a while but finally after + 9 months a newly updated website www.kathalijne.com. New pics in Portrait, Music and Travel sections. Go see, leave a comment, tell your friends, hey tell the world! I’m ready to see the world:)

The photo featured below is of South African musician Meri Kenaz, you should check her out if you have the chance.

Happy discovering:)

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SHUTR

I am currently featured in Dutch photography magazine ‘SHUTR’. Quite possibly the best welcome home present I have ever had:)

It’s a 10 page spread featuring 8 photo’s and an interview. In stores near you, go get one:)

ImageThe photos above were taken with a cell phone, the pics in the magazine look much better. Gelukkig:)

Stuff it

Seriously, all I want is my stuff back, finish a few projects and go home. Sounds simple, right? Especially the getting my stuff back part. Apparently not so.

I stored 4 prints and 10 A2 sized framed images at Museum Gallery in Cape Town at the end of 2010, with the promise to get them back when I was next in town.  I was part of their opening show ‘The New Landscape’ and had a good working relationship with them. I blogged about the show here. When I left CT,  I asked if I could store some of my work at the gallery while I was in Europe. They said yes, no problem. Fast forward 15 months. I am back. And I have been *trying* to get my work back since April 5th and obviously still haven’t got it.

First thing I did was to simply go to the gallery. There was no one there. In fact, half the gallery seems to have been closed. So I wrote an email instead, asking for an appointment to come fetch my prints & frames. I got a swift reply from the owner/manager saying that he was out of town but would look for it and get back to me. That’s cool. I did not hear from him again. So I sent an email. And another one and another one. And, in fact, another one. I phoned and left a voicemail message. Finally an email reply. He was on holiday, but he would get back to me a.s.a.p. “Asap” again eh. I am sensing a theme here.

coyrightkvz

Nothing happens. I phone again, I email again. I went down there again. We speak on the phone, again. I offer to come help look for the prints. “No no, you don’t want to be down there”. He will look for it, and will get back to me tomorrow morning, or this afternoon or when ever.

Anyway, you get the idea. There is always an excuse; he’s out of town, the electricity is out and he can’t see anything, they are taking down one exhibition and building the next but once that’s done, sure ‘I’ll get to the archive’. Best of all was when he suggested it was my fault because it took me more than a year. What are we, in high school?

You are running a business, I made a deal with you guys that it was ok to store my stuff there, now I want it back. All you have to do is set up an appointment and keep your word. I am not your ex-girlfriend asking for an old t-shirt back. This is my work and frankly, returning it is your work.

Anyway, you get the idea. I am being strung along, given the run around, lied to. But I still want my work back.
And this sucks.

Interview with award-winning South African photographer Jodi Bieber

I had the pleasure of interviewing South African photographer Jodi Bieber a while back. The interview was published on A Photo Editor and Visi Magazine.
Jodi Bieber (1966) is a South African photographer mostly known for her highly publicized portrait of Bibi Aisha; the young Afghan woman who had her nose and ears cut off by the Taliban after seeking rescue from her violent husband in her parent’s home. It was this photo that won Bieber the World Press Photo Award in 2011. She has won no less than 8 other World Press Photo Awards, as well numerous other prestigious awards such as first prize for the series “Real Beauty” in Picture of the Year International Competition and Winner of the Prix de l’Union Européene at the Rencontres de Bamako Biennale Africaine de la Photographie in 2009. Bieber is currently rounding off a hectic year of constant traveling, meeting people, being on juries and lots of public speaking. It is on this last leg of the World Press Photo exhibition, in Cape Town, that we find ourselves sitting in the gardens of the Castle of Good Hope. A place with a symbolic name as this is where Bieber is teaching a 3-day masterclass to 17 aspiring photographers organized by World Press Photo in cooperation with Iziko Museums.

How did you get into photography?
Jodi Bieber: I originally studied Marketing because an aptitude test said I would be good at studying Law. I couldn’t picture myself doing 7 years of studying and chose Marketing because it was only 4 years. While I was sitting with a friend during a lunch-break, a piece of paper fell into my lap. The piece of paper advertised photography courses at the Market Workshop in Johannesburg. And that is how I got into photography.

After completing several short courses at the Workshop, I did a three month internship at The Star under Ken Oosterbroek in 1993. My job as an intern was to develop everyone’s film and print their work. I still found time, though, to go out and shoot on my own and scored my first front page publication on the third day. I was invited to be part of a select group of 10 photographers for the World Press Photo Masterclass in Amsterdam in 1996. I’ve always done my own projects such as ‘Between Dogs and Wolves’, ‘Survivors’ and ‘Soweto’ but have also done work for Time Magazine and Médicines Sans Frontières.

Can you tell us something about the way you work? For example, how much directing do you do?
JB: When I go out on a shoot, I am there for hours. I exhaust my subjects. As far as shooting goes, I start with framing the photograph. I will tell the person I am photographing where I want to do it, but I will not tell someone how to pose. And in case there are two or more people being photographed, I will not tell them in which order to stand. I feel you can tell a lot about their relationship from where they chose to stand. Once I have framed the image I will direct, I will maybe ask someone to move a leg or hand.

I was never motivated by the money, I was motivated by photography. I chose my projects because a subject interested me. I came to ‘Real Beauty’ after seeing the Dove billboard which showed normal women as opposed to models and I thought that was amazing. Then I met a model soon after that, who told me a lot of dark secrets about the fashion industry, and that yes, for instance, she does have bags under her eyes but that will be photoshopped out. That made me curious about what real beauty is. When I started that project a lot of women were a little apprehensive at first, but I soon received phone calls from women asking to take part. And I accepted everyone.

You speak a lot about the importance of editing well. What makes a good editor to you?
JB: Editing is absolutely crucial. Everyone is a photographer these days and where you can make a difference is with interpretation. As a good editor you have to be true to yourself but not be too emotionally attached. If you let someone else edit your work, you have to make sure you put your point of view across well and work with someone you trust.

Where do you think a lot of photographers go wrong?
JB: They rush too much. You have to take the time to edit. Don’t add photos because you think you need a certain number of photos, less is definitely more. Create piles while you’re doing it; have a ‘Maybe’ pile, as well as an ‘In’ and ‘Out’ pile. If you have difficulty saying goodbye to your photos, then keep the ‘Out’ pile in your view so you feel like you can always go back to it. And do not do it on the computer.

And when you are building your portfolio it should be like music – made up of highs and lows but not weak.

You often find yourself in quite dangerous situations. How do you cope?
JB: I believe that my openness about what I am doing is my protection. I create relationships quickly, little circles of people around a bigger situation that may be dangerous.

You mentioned during the workshop that photographers bring themselves to the shoot as well. Where do we see you in your work?
JB: I don’t know, I am not the right person to ask. My choice of subject matter will probably tell you a lot. I also think that I am pretty direct and you can see that in my work as well but it is not “what you see is what you get”.

I once heard someone say that a profession is a vehicle for something deeper. Assuming that is true, what is it that you are searching for through your photography?
JB: Photography has been a vehicle to discover things I didn’t know before. When I go out shooting, I am learning something new. I am connecting with other people; and I feel a responsibility towards them.

Speaking of responsibility, there is the age old dilemma and debate, that photographers go into a situation and take something, prey on the weak while the gain nothing. How do you feel about that?
JB: I do feel responsible, and sometimes I do feel it is a bit unfair. You get your shot but the community will never benefit. That is a difficult thing.

I really do believe that it is important to be very clear about what it is you want and what the photo will be used for. If you leave out a detail just so you can get the photograph, that detail will come back to haunt you. And if someone has a problem with what you are trying to do, then simply don’t shoot them. I make sure that the people who do agree to take part in a project get one of the Artist Proof prints (ed: out of two) that I have. It is up to them to either hold on to the print or if they want, sell it. That is my way of giving them something back.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?
JB: Well, being a photographer is a lonely profession and you sacrifice one thing for another. All I ever did was photography and I am only just learning that there are thing like shoes, make-up (laughs).

After winning the World Press Photo, you must have led a very hectic and different life this year. What has been the biggest lesson?
JB: I have learned that photos speak very loudly. Not all and not all the time but when they do, then can create change. And I have learned that when you have a voice, you have to use it. Photographers can be very powerful.

What is next for you?
JB: I will be starting a new project and I have a big show coming up in Ulms, Germany.

Any last advice?
JB: Just go out and do it. You have to get out there and create the work, put in the hours, develop your own style. And don’t be where the pack is. Do your own thing. And, when you are about to take a picture of what I like to call ‘The Stare’, reconsider it.

Conversations with photographer Mike Hutchings

The World Press Photo exhibition had not been to Cape Town since 2007, but this year the city got lucky as the exhibition reached it’s final destination at the beginning of February. In order to celebrate this event, the World Press Photo organization hooked up with Iziko Cape Town Museums and together they organized a summer school, full of Masterclasses, readings and panel discussions. As part of the program, award-winning photographer Mike Hutchings spoke about his work to a captivated audience.

Mike Hutchings (London, 1963) is an established photo-journalist coming from South Africa. As a photo journalist he also covers sporting events, and it was one of his powerful images taken at soccer World Cup in 2010 that won him first prize in the World Press Photo Sports Category (photo of Demy de Zeeuw being kicked in the face). Mike studied Social Anthropology at the University and then began starting working as a freelance photographer. He has covered a lot of the political conflict in South Africa in the 1980’s and as well as the release of Nelson Mandela, conflicts in the Democratic republic of Congo, Kenya, Madagascar and Zimbabwe as well as global sporting events such as the Olympics and the soccer World Cup. He became a photographer for Reuters in 1991.

Can you tell us something about how you got started and how you got involved with Reuters?
Mike Hutchings: The thing to remember with newspapers is that it is not what you can do, but what you can do for them. I had been taking pictures for a number of years and the people at Reuters knew my work. You also need a dose a luck, of being in the right place at the right time, you need to build connections. I used to work for UPI (United Press International) which was bought by Reuters.

I believe that it is important for photographers to talk to other photographers; sometimes you work doesn’t translate as well as you think it does, talk to others, listen to opinions, you need honest and constructive criticism. My support came from advice from friends, various people like Leon Muller, Garth Stead, Eric Miller. It is stimulating talking to other photographers. Cape Town photographers are not a cut-throat breed, it is not that difficult to connect to fellow photographers.

What is your role with Reuters now?
MH: It is a fine balance between working with stringers across Africa, organizing all that, and actually going out taking pictures.

Can you explain what “stringers” are?
MH: Stringers are freelancers or contributors that we work with occasionally or steady.There are quite a few big stories in Southern Africa right now such as obviously the World Cup in 2010, but also Mandela himself, political disasters such as in Zimbabwe or natural disasters such as in Mozambique. Sometimes Reuters can not send someone into a situation and that’s when we use stringers. Which is different from sending in someone from Reuters itself, where someone comes into a situation, does what he is supposed to do and leaves as soon as he’s finished. Those photographers are also known as “firemen”. Stringers are locals and they can access a story differently which can be an important difference in how you cover a news story or event.

Do you own the copyright for the work you do for Reuters?
MH: No, Reuters owns it. One-sided contracts can be a problem but I find working with Reuters very satisfactory. There are different contracts for the stringers as they get a commission when the photo gets sold and that is quite unique is the world of photo-journalism.

What can you tell us about the standard of photography of photographers in Africa?
MH: Well, that’s where it gets complicated. There is a huge range of skills here. In Kenya, for example there is a really high level of skills unlike that in for example Angola. We were very happy to see that one of are stringers, Feisal Omar, in Mogadishu also won a World Press Photo (ed: Omar won first prize in Daily Life Singles) We have 5 stringers in Somalia. I was the editor of that certain photograph. As an editor you are responsible for fact checking (Reuters is very strict about accuracy), writing captions and occasionally cropping.

Fact checking can be a difficult thing in certain countries or situations, and you want to make sure all the facts are correct. Sometimes someone or an NGO sends in a photograph and it they often have their own agenda. So what you do as an editor is ask the photographer specific questions, check the Internet, discern between gossip, conjecture and facts.

How much post-processing do you do?
MH: I am not a fan of over-using Photoshop as you can reach vastly different results. I try to limit Photoshop to less than what I would do in a dark-room. I do crop slightly, mind you in Sports photography you have to crop as you are to far way and you are shooting for the crop. I used a 400 mm fixed lens on the winning photo. Using Photoshop can cause too many problems too easily as you are putting something into an image that you didn’t see. And as a news agency or photo-journalist you want the public to be able to rely on your honesty and not have it question if what you publish is the truth.

How do you keep the resolution?
MH: You can sharpen but you can only go so far before it looks stupid. The image has to be sharp before you start post-processing. As a sports photographer you can not shoot in RAW as it is too slow. Although a magazine like ‘Sports Illustrated’ does work with both RAW and Jpegs. But with newspaper work you have to be faster as the turn-over is faster. It is uploaded into a remote editing systems where the editor will pull it out. The photo of Demy De Zeeuw for example was part of a sequence, and I didn’t see the photo until 3 hours after.Shooting sporting events means you need to be “ready” all the time. If you can actually see the photo through your lens, you are too late. But you don’t want to just push your finger down either. I guess you just follow an instinct for where the action is going to be, you learn to anticipate the moment.

There are things you can do, naturally. You need to be technically ready. I preset the exposure but not the focus as I’d like to be adaptable that way. I bring several bodies and a variety of lenses depending on what kind of sports I’m covering. For boxing, you need a shorter lens than you do for soccer. Some photographers will use a wireless remote while they shoot; they set up a camera behind the goal for example while they stand somewhere else. I prefer not to shoot that way, but you never know what you are getting exactly. You only know exactly what you’re getting when shooting with light-boxes in a very static shoot.

Can you tell us something about how you view photography on the digital high way?
MH: It has gotten a lot easier now. Before you were shooting 36 frames on film that had to be developed, printed, scanned. Photographers were shooting less. Nowadays people sometimes shoot 1,000 frames. With the number of frames photographers take these days, you just need to edit more. I think that photographers were more critical about what they shot as there was a limited amount of film and were therefore possibly more instinctive. The cameras have also gotten bigger which can be a disadvantage especially in social documentary. Shoving a huge camera in somebody’s face can be very intimidating and it puts something between you and your subject. There are ways around that though, it just means you have to engage with your subject more. But I find that good photographers will always engage a lot.

You mentioned that Cape Town photographers are not a cut-throat breed. Can you tell us a little about the competitiveness in photo journalism?
MH: I have always backed away from it, but you sometimes see it in others. There is a lot of heightened tension that comes with this profession but photo-journalists realize that if you can’t get vent verbally and get over it in 5 minutes you are in the wrong business. We also have to rely on each other in dangerous situations.

Do you think that “something” has been lost with digital photography, meaning it has become less physical, less tangible?
MH: I don’t really think so, a photograph maybe changing as an entity but you still have all your files.

Any advice to photographers?
MH: Back up your files at least twice on external hard drives and keep them in separate places.

Enter The Dragon

Happy new year, everybody! It’s been quite some time since my last blog post which is pretty much due to me not having anything to say. If, professionally speaking, 2011 felt like wading through mud with a heavy backpack on, 2012 looks to be very different. There are some definite changes on the horizon, better still, changes are here. And I am stoked.
The year started off good with a couple of guest blog post at Lost At E Minor, which is one of Saatchi & Saatchi’s ‘Lovemark’ brands so that’s quite cool. I’ve also been interviewed by South Africa’s Creative Network which you can read here. Things are only getting more exciting from there on. At least for me:) I booked a flight to South Africa and am flying to Cape Town on February 6th. I plan on staying there for about 4 to 6 months depending on how things go.
I posted a little wish-list on Facebook the other day and lo and behold, one of them came true the very next day:) For you see, I have been a huge World Press Photo fan and have wanting to do a masterclass of sorts for a long time. And hooray, I just signed up for a 3-day masterclass by World Press Photo Winner Jodi Bieber. Oh yes. I signed up for two other lectures as well – one by Mike Hutchings whom I actually know already and the other by Sean O’Toole. Mike won 1st prize in the Sports category and Sean is the editor of Art South Africa, amongst other things.
The prospect of learning is just so exciting to me, I can feel my brain itch as it were:)
I totally should have called this post “How Kate Got Her Groove Back”, ’cause Stella ain’t got nothing on me:)
And rather randomly – I watched Cameron Crowe’s PJ 20 – I can’t help it, I haven’t listened to them in years but I do still love that song. I had just forgotten that I did:)
In case you were wondering about what else is on the wish-list, here it is:
“live in Cape Town, live in Seattle, visit Zim, China, Vietnam and the arctic, study film, find a mentor, work for Rolling Stone, make a documentary, fall in love, speak 10 languages, see the world, meet everyone..”
Sounds like a plan to me:)