The phrase “baptism by fire” comes to mind after my first full day here. The good news is that I haven’t felt particularly jet lagged. Sure I was tired when the alarm went off at 7 AM, but those two conditions are not mutually exclusive.
We had a team meeting shortly after I landed in Cape Town yesterday. Jedd and Janelle have put together a fantastic team here, and I consider myself lucky to work with them. Fortunately they all have a sense of humor so there is no shortage of fun even though we have a daunting amount of work ahead of us.
Today was the first day of production, and we hit the ground running. We shot four entrepreneurs in three different locations around the city. Though the stories are all very different, most of them are found within slum communities like these:
A sea of tin roofs are accented by vibrant hanging laundry and painted metal. There is no shortage of visual inspiration, especially for someone like me who has never been in an environment like this. If I didn’t have such a clear task and tightly planned schedule I’m certain I would feel overwhelmed. While my senses are being introduced (and occasionally assaulted) by what they are absorbing it’s helpful to have a clearly defined task. If I think of it like any other photo shoot it becomes much more manageable: Who is my subject? What’s the background? Where is my light? What’s this about? etc.
We had some down time (aka Africa Time) waiting for one of our subjects to arrive, and that was perhaps the hardest part of the day for me. There was nothing I needed to shoot, yet I felt like there were endless opportunities of things available to shoot. I found myself filling time by shooting textures and exploring the community.
Unlike most shoots there is plenty of time to cover everything and not feel rushed. My best shot of the day came after I put the camera down and said we were done. I even packed up my stuff and waited impatiently to head home. It wasn’t until I stopped and simply observed what was happening around me that I found the money shot I had been trying to fabricate earlier. It’s unnatural, perhaps insensitive, to show up at a stranger’s home or office and immediately start snapping photos; and it’s even more pronounced here given our vastly different cultural backgrounds.
Unfortunately I can’t share my favorite photos yet –you’ll have to wait ’til we release the book. Nevertheless here’s one of the entrepreneurs we shot today.
There is still much to write, but it’s late, I’m tired, and we’ve got a meeting with sunrise tomorrow. All for now. Check back again…