Pictures from South Africa
The power of photography as a medium was brought sharply into focus for me at a recent talk by two of South Africa’s top photojournalists, TJ Lemon and Antoine de Ras. They spent a morning guiding a small group of photography enthusiasts from Johannesburg through some of their work; from award-winning social documentary to some of the country’s most exiting press photography from the last two decades. The event was arranged by Afripixel, a photographic club that organises all kinds of activities for its enthusiastic members (and curious guests like myself), from photographic walks through interesting parts of the city to lectures and competitions.
Antoine explained how he’s always looking for subject matter, observing people, developing an idea, working out the right approach and sometime spending months getting it just right. And yet at other times, presented with just a moment, his photographic reflexes kicks in and, in seconds, he’s read the light, framed the shot and got the story. While Antoine shared more recent work, TJ took us through some of his work from the early nineties - iconic shots that captured the pulse of the nation at one of the most exciting times in our history.
Antoine explained how he’s always looking for subject matter, observing people, developing an idea, working out the right approach and sometime spending months getting it just right.
The vibe was very friendly and relaxed, with TJ and Antoine taking questions from the floor and talking us through each shot as it appeared on the screen. I was fascinated by the approach to each subject, Antoine and TJ were able to work against a predictable range of narrative conventions and stereotyped characters, to come up with images that took me beyond the obvious, connecting me to another place, time, experience, in a very human way. I don’t think one of us left there without having gained something more than we’d expected from the day.
It was a fantastic way to spend a morning and cost just R100 per person, which included lunchtime drinks, snacks and a tour of Lilliesleaf Farm (where the event was hosted). More on that later.
Category: Arts & Entertainment