Monthly Archives: August 2011

Press Enter

As you probably know, I have been scouring the net for publications, submissions, competitions and whatever -ions one can find. I even entered a competition a few weeks back. Uh-oh:) The deadline only passed yesterday and have  nothing to report just yet.

I came across two calls for entries that seem really interesting, and they maybe something for you as well:
– The British Journal of Photography’s International Photography Award 2011
One can submit singles and series. The deadline is September 15th, at 9 A.M.

Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award – this years theme is Zimbabwe.
The deadline is September 30th. I would love to enter this and collaborate with some one on this. Send me an email if you do too.

Speaking of collaborations, I would love together with some bloggers/writers on a few project when I get back to Cape Town. Perhaps we can do a feature on Cape Town fashion or music send it off to magazines in SA or elsewhere? Sounds like fun to me, anyway. Please, let me know if you’d be keen.

And yes, I did finish writing the Business Plan the other day. Will fine-tune and print it later today. It was the first time ever that I made a SWOT analysis, and must admit that I find it “clarifying” to say the least. There’s something about seeing your strengths and weaknesses listed like that.

And apparently, the gay bears are totally catching on 🙂

Stats and Dirty Skirts

I totally intended on writing a business plan today but got side-tracked. In all honesty though, writing the business plan itself is already an act of procrastination. A wise one though and one I should have done a long time. Writing the BP is taking my focus away from writing another proposal of which I have finished 60% of the work and perhaps I need a bit of a break before I finish.

The week started with good news; I sent some work to a South African magazine and was contacted by an Italian magazine and will now be published in both next month. I will reveal more when the publications are up. I keep a list of all the magazines I submit work to and I have come to the following conclusion;
– 20% of submissions is successful.
– 30% receives positive feedback but leads nowhere in the end for different reasons: magazines go belly up, editor likes it but editor in chief decides “no”, subject is too far removed from readers, sometimes literally so seeing how I am a Dutch photographer shooting SA artists etc. I must say all feedback is highly appreciated as it teaches me how editors look at the submissions they receive.
– 20% of “no” do send an automated reply message saying they received the work. I like this, at least I know I don’t need to re-send.
– 30% of “no” don’t get back to you in any shape or form (no automated replies, feedback etc).
I am wondering if a 20% success rate is reasonable or pathetic?
All I can compare it with are the design competitions (for new jobs, not awards) we entered when I was sill working at design studio Taluut. We aimed for 1 in 4, I’m hoping my 1 in 5 isn’t all that pathetic after all.

Speaking of statistics and the likes, I am highly amused by the site stats provided by WordPress relating to this blog, especially the search terms that have led to this blog. Now some make sense, like my name for example, or bands, photographers and exhibitions I blogged about. Some are understandable like “photographer Cape Town music” “kommetjie kite” or  “fashion shoot Bo-Kaap Cape Town” but how one gets here by entering “kid set up dinner table” or “dresscode Polana” I’ll never know.
And I am so not mentioning the “gay bears” 🙂

Jail La La

Two videos, just because it’s Friday. The first is by the Dum Dum Girls. I remember sitting in my Woodstock kitchen last year, editing pics to this song. That worked well. Somehow, the song and monochrome video make me want to more music shoots. Wandering the streets with some band looking for cool places to shoot is a very, very good way to spend one’s day.

The other is a video by the Foals. I was going to post ‘Olympic Airways’ but ended up with ‘Spanish Sahara’ instead. The first has some really nice grading in some places though… I simply liked the latter song better.

For no specific reason I have ‘Der Himmel über Berlin’ on my mind. No, not that dreadful remake starring Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan, but the original Wim Wenders movie. That movie where they mix up color and monochrome sequences to indicate a human’s point of view vs that of the angels, featuring Bruno Ganz and The Birthday Party. That movie. The cinematographer was 77 year-old Henri Alekan, who apparently used a very old and fragile silk stocking that had belonged to his grandmother as a filter for the those sequences. I’ve been told that photographer Anton Corbijn used a similar trick in the early days. I tried it a couple of times as well but never quite got the same effect, maybe because I attached the stocking to the enlarger in the dark room, perhaps one is supposed to pull it over the lens. I don’t know.

I think being a cinematographer must be wonderful. Thinking in moving images instead of stills seems interesting and challenging. Making sure all frames are good is very different than shooting singles. It’s also a very different way of telling stories, one that is becoming more and more important for photographers to add to their portfolio. Fortunately for me, opportunities to learn all about film making are shimmering in the distance, like hot tar on a desolate American High Way. Best thing is, that opportunity is real and not fading in said distance as a trip to the South of France which seems to be falling apart at the seems at the moment, but that’s a different story for a different day.

Both bands, btw, are signed to American label Sub Pop. Yes, the label from Seattle. Seattle, the city where I once spent a very happy and hazy week of just hanging out, drinking local beers and watching local bands. It’s time to get back into the swing of shooting bands. I have 6 lined up already. In South Africa. I just need to get there. Can’t be that hard. Have a great weekend all.

A house is not a home

It suddenly dawned on me while we were strolling through Amsterdam – I’ve been  “homeless” for two years solid now. I’ve stayed in nearly 40 places ever since I put most of my belongings in storage in ’09. A suitcase, a laptop and a camera is all take with me. I like traveling relatively light, I like moving and I don’t miss my stuff, however, I am starting to miss feeling at home.

 The reason why we went to Amsterdam was to pay a visit to the Marianne Breslauer exhibition at the Jewish Historical Museum. Marianne Breslauer (1909-2001) was a photographer during the Weimar Republic and only did so for about 10 years. Marianne worked in Paris for a while where she became a pupil of May Ray. She also worked for a German agency, Academia, who told Marianne to work under a pseudonym in order to hide the fact that she was Jewish. She refused and subsequently moved to Amsterdam and to Switzerland later on. Marianne left photography behind her as she became bored with the medium and more interested in her husband’s business as an art dealer.
The exhibition was ok. I wasn’t overly impressed, I must admit. It showed quite a lot of her work, even her graduation project and several publications but the work itself never quite touched me.  To me, the best thing was the historical perspective offered by her work. I really liked seeing how the women dressed in the 30’s, the very short hairdo’s, the masculine way of dressing yet remaining ever so feminine. I would love to look like that. The other thing I really liked about Marianne, was that she just walked away from the world of photography. She explained in an interview that she had done and photographed all she wanted to do, and had simply reached an end. I like that. Knowing when it’s over.
The real reason came later. While Arthur was browsing around one of Amsterdam’s best record stores, Concerto, I found a photo book by Jim Marshall (1936-2010). Just flicking through that book is impossible. One has to stand still and look at every picture carefully. Jim has photographed all of music’s biggest stars; Beatles, Stones, Allman Brothers, Johnny Cash, Blondie, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Grateful Dead, Howling Wolf, John Coltrane. The list is endless. Most of his images have become part of our collective visual memory. Who doesn’t know that image of Johnny Cash giving the finger towards the camera, Jimi Hendrik on stage or Little Richard deep in thought before he takes to the stage?
Ohhh, imagine being his assistant for a week. The things you would see, the things I would learn. It would be amazing. To build a portfolio like his is something I can only dream of.
Perhaps that can be home for a while, not a physical place but the determination to build a strong portfolio that will take me places. I think that sounds quite lovely:)
Watch Jim Marshall here:
All photos are copyrighted and belong to the photographers:
Top: Ruth Von Morgen by Marianne Breslauer. Berlin 1934
Middle: Lisa Von Cramm by Marianne Breslauer. Berlin 1934
Bottom: June Carter and Johnny Cash by Jim Marshall
Video: Sean Dana