Day Five: Durban

Photo by Stephen Elliot in association with

Over 19 hours ago my alarm signaled the start of our day. None of us just how how busy the day would be, but now that it’s over it’s hard to believe everything that happened, much less that it all went so smoothly.

We left our hotel at 5:15 to take pictures for our first story of the day. One of the two rental cars broke down exactly as we reached our destination. It could have really screwed up our schedule, but fortunately we proceeded with our shoot while we waited for Budget to bring us a replacement vehicle.

I was immediately struck by the difference between the slums in Durban compared to those in Cape Town. Whereas Cape Town is densely packed and very well defined, the slums in Durban are spread across brown rolling hills with ample space between neighbors. As we walked down the steep dirt path to the first entrepreneur’s house I couldn’t help but think there’s almost a beauty to it. The road itself made me grateful for my hiking boots, and I thought to myself how much I would enjoy hiking through a landscape like this. But then you realize that the people living here are in poverty and suddenly the beauty becomes bittersweet.

Photo by Stephen Elliot in association with MudProductions.comPhoto by Stephen Elliot in association with

There was apparently some miscommunication about the shoot because the woman needed to leave exactly 17 minutes after we arrived. That wasn’t nearly enough time to get the shots we needed, so we did our best and decided to come back tomorrow —as in, even earlier than today.

We found ourselves with only one vehicle and plenty of unexpected time on our hands. Michelle made a few calls and within minutes we walked to another entrepreneur’s house for our second shoot. This dude ran a computer repair shop from his home. It was so interesting to see the contrast of all these computer parts littered around his tiny, tin roof house. I felt a sense of camaraderie with him as I recalled the times I had my own computer parts strewn around the carpeted floors of my bedroom. I saw a bit of myself in him and wondered if this is what my life might look like if I had been born under similar circumstances.

Photo by Stephen Elliot in association with

The rest of the morning was a story of one thing leading to the next. We thought we would have a big swath of time to kill in the middle of the day, but by 2:00 o’clock we had been shooting non-stop and finally decided it was time to get lunch. …and by lunch I mean we picked up sandwiches from the Starbucks equivalent at a local mall. Let’s just say we ate a little better when Janelle was in charge of meals =)

Anyway, we rounded out the afternoon and evening with a few shoots. One of my favorites so far was this guy and his kids in their garden. The setting was great, the lighting was perfect, and the story was ripe for capturing.

Photo by Stephen Elliot in association with Photo by Stephen Elliot in association with Photo by Stephen Elliot in association with Photo by Stephen Elliot in association with MudProductions.comWe shot photos shortly past sunset as the moon greeted us exactly in time and exactly the right place. There was one final person we needed to shoot, but we had time to drop off some gear and grab a proper dinner beforehand. We wrapped up our last shoot around 9:30, and headed for the beach.

You see, Durban is a port city on the east coast of Africa. I’ve never been in the Indian Ocean, so I figured this diem needed some carping. After a 16 hour day of shooting virtually non-stop Jedd felt compelled to join me in taking a dip while Michelle tried to ignore us and enjoy the crashing waves.

The water was so much warmer than I anticipated. We ended up swimming for about 15-20 minutes just basking in the simple joy of it. We are all officially exhausted, but we can rest knowing we gave it our all today.

Photo by Stephen Elliot in association with


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