I fell in LOVE with Andre photography of the Western Cape, then I saw his pics of the Karoo and nearly died but when I discovered he’s a member of the CC tribe already, I loved him with heat of a 1000 suns. While it’s often easy to celebrate the famous CC stories it’s important to us remember that everyone’s journey to CC. I asked him to tell his CC journey, here’s his story.
As a young boy, I got involved in my father’s pro-am photography. Dad supplemented his earnings (and bolstered his social calendar) in the Navy, by shooting weddings and similar functions, for his shipmates and others. I’d work in the darkroom, often spending my entire Sunday in the dark, churning out the prints of the photo’s that had been taken on Saturday, and had to be delivered on Monday. I didn’t get paid, but I got to use the big 35mm Zeiss Icarex with the 135mm tele-photo lens, with a couple of rolls of Ilford FP4 thrown in, when we went to motor-racing at the Killarney circuit, out past Milnerton.
I must have taken hundreds of photo’s over a 4-5 year period. And they covered a halcyon period in South Africa motor-racing. We were one of the only countries in the world, where our national championship was decided using the same formula cars as the WORLD championship! We raced Formula 1 cars, baby! And the photo’s were pretty good. I read a lot of motor-racing magazines back then, and learned my angles and composition from some of the best shooters in the racing world. Lots of practice helped. So did a parental review process filled with phrases like “I should give you the box Brownie instead…” and “waste of good film”…
So. Have you ever seen any of my photos from that period in the early 70′s? No? Sadly, the overwhelming chances are, you haven’t. Photos didn’t get anywhere near the audience back then. There was no internet, no Flickr. And AutoSport didn’t buy photo’s from young teenagers.
A couple of years ago, when the photography bug bit me once again, I was met by a completely transformed landscape. The Web 2.0 wave was just starting, and I was catapulted into a crazed rush of hundred of thousands of images being shared on sites like Flickr, every day. IT WAS GREAT! I was in there, posting pix like a madman, at full size, so that my contacts could view them LARGE! I’d selected the “ALL RIGHTS RESERVED” license, so no-one could steal them, right?
It soon became apparent that I hadn’t thought that through. One or two incidences of image-theft shocked me and my circle of Flickr friends into rethinking the whole sharing online idea. We certainly wanted to share our images, and we had creative reasons for disliking watermarks or small images, so what to do? I mean, the images were MINE, right? A treasured little hoard of faved and commented and invited photo’s that … sort of … described my … worth? as a photographer? In the eyes of my friends/followers/adoring fans? In the mold of an Annie Liebowitz? Hunched over her precious hocked to-the-gills portfolio? Whoah. Hold up there, tiger! It suddenly became clear to me that I was in serious need of a re-calibration here. This didn’t feel good, it didn’t feel right.
So I did what I always do in cases like this. I started talking to people. Photographers, authors, musicians, open-source advocates. Let’s start throwing stuff at the wall, and see what sticks. Gather information, points of view. Discard nothing, consider it all… What rings true? My friend Paul, (big tall Paul, with a penchant for panoramas and millimetric repetitive processing accuracy) and I chewed it over, sitting round an open fire on his farm in the Little Karoo. Alan (who shoots a two and a quarter square Yashica Twin Lens Reflex with a ground glass focussing screen, with same aplomb as a 14-year old flashing a BlackBerry, but with vastly superior results) and I spent a cold early morning sharing coffee on the same farm, bouncing it back and forth. I read AJ’s blog (he who has read Torvalds and Stalman and thinks they both should shut up and listen to him) way too far back and pressed him with questions to test his certainty.
I talked and thought and tested and asked and challenged, wash, rinse, repeat.
So. What came out? What stuck? What do I believe now?
1. Hoarding a pile of your past achievements is just silly. Don’t do it. Set them free, brother!
2. Posting my images online allows me to share my passion with a far wider audience. Do this. A LOT.
3. My past images (as much as I may love them) are just a bread-crumb trail which shows how I’ve learnt the craft. Our best images are yet to be taken. Let’s go take them.
4. I licence images that I share in this way (ie my entire Flickr collection now), with one of the many clever Creative Commons licenses. Share freely for Non-Commercial with NC. Let them go. They’ll be OK. Stop hanging onto the past. You’re better than that. Go make more beautiful pictures.
5. I don’t share customer photo’s online.
That’s it. That’s where I fetched up with what’s right and fair, and that I can live with. I sleep easier now. Hope it helps you to, as well.
Thanks for listening.
Here is a small selection of Andre’s work. I suggest you check out his flickr page and view the images in full size for the complete expression of his work.