Of my new intake of students, about seven out of the ten wanted to give up their day jobs to become freelance photographers. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that, exciting and romantic as it may sound, this is probably what they’re going to have to photograph in order to pay the bills:
And other exciting things, like lampshades, erasers, calendars, pencils, flags, cups, computers … all at tight deadlines and low pay. That’s freelance photography. But if Helmut Newton can call himself a gun for hire, and be prepared to shoot what he must, then who am I to complain, right?
The project I have just handed in was quite fun and challenging, though. It took me all over the place – I needed a tiger, a snake, an elephant, a grasshopper, kids, a grandad with a bucket, a granny, a burning house, rain, a sea monster … Lots of driving to add to my usual schedule of driving, collecting, delivering, driving.
Dumping the pics onto the computer, making the selection, tweaking them in Photoshop, resizing them, creating a contact sheet and burning to disk probably takes longer than taking the photos in the first place. By the end of it I usually have to remind myself to lower my shoulders back to where they belong, to straighten my spine, and to untangle my legs from where they’ve wound themselves either around my neck or around my desk. Oh yes, and to breathe.
I photographed some kids in Gugulethu on Sunday. Hectic lighting. Huge clouds would either obscure the sun entirely, creating a night-time effect, or part to flood my scene with a blinding light. Whatever reading I took, whatever settings I chose, they would be incorrect. Of course, the early morning light would have been far more forgiving, and shooting black skins against vibracrete walls would have been a whole lot easier.
But fun it was. The hardest part was keeping people out of my picture. Usually one has to beg people to have their pic taken. Not here.