Serendipitously and spurred on by a comment that I made so many years ago in an interview conducted by Mario Fazekas from Kruger-2-Kalahari a South African Wildlife Photography and Safari information Website is that Digital Photo SA is only now coming to fruition. There is no doubt in my mind that Camera&Image laid the much-needed groundwork for what I am involved with today and this is the paragraph extracted from the interview that you can read almost in its entirety in this article; “We have also taken the initiative to produce Camera&Image in web format that you may subscribe to and download. What I do like about web editions is that they may be made totally interactive with links that will take you to manufactures and suppliers websites or to photographer’s portfolios.” Due to circumstances that were totally out of our control ultimately led to the demise of Camera&Image and there is no other photographic magazine in print in South Africa today. Quite a few years have since passed and finally, with much-needed help, we have now finally been able to launch Digital Photo SA.
1. Rob, how long have you been the editor of Camera and Image magazine, and how has photography changed since you started?
Camera&Image started with an idea back in 1995 and was motivated by the longest photographic magazine to have been on the shelf in South Africa. You might have remembered Creative Photography a magazine that I owe most of my early inspiration too. It was not until July of 1997 that Camera&Image finally made its appearance and I have to admit that I had a very skewed idea as what had to be contained in a photographic magazine at that time, but it was a start.
Camera&Image started in the film era where APS, the advanced photo system, had just made its appearance. I have included an advertisement from Kodak that was placed in our first edition to give you an idea as to what this was all about. If you were needing ID or passport photographs Polaroid was leading the way as it was instant with very little waiting before you could walk away with your pictures.
Polaroid was also very popular with professional photographers and was the material of choice for proofing before you committed your shoot to film. The idea was that this would save you money and time on having to do a re-shoot and you could also produce an almost immediate proof to show your client, get his approval or to give you a preview of how your picture would turn out on film. It was very popular in the fashion industry and was used by most professional photographers in other disciplines as well. Today there is almost absolutely no mention of film being used at all however there are a few stalwarts who still use film but it is becoming more difficult to obtain and to get processed.
Most companies who had their core business in film production have disappeared. I believe Konica was the first major producer to disappear followed by Agfa Film with Fujifilm and Kodak barely holding on. If both of the last mentioned companies were not involved with digital camera production and digital printing I suspect that they too would have disappeared. There are other film companies that have all disappeared but they were not amongst the major role players, to begin with.
2. What is the overriding mission for the photography published in Camera and Image magazine?
Initially, the overriding mission of Camera&Image was to motivate and to inspire its readers with world-class photography. To this day we still include the payoff line, The photographic magazine for creative enthusiasts. The criteria adopted for C&I is that all photographs particularly be of a high standard and this in itself is subjective but I suppose this could be construed and misinterpreted as bias towards my own magazine. We remain open to all disciplines that embrace photography as an art form.
3. Do you use stock photos or do you work with various photographers to obtain your images?
We hardly have the need to use stock photographs as the authors of the articles that appear in C&I have produced most, if not all the photographs that are used themselves.
4. Are photographers still using portfolios to showcase their style? What are some do’s and don’ts for compiling a great photography portfolio?
There is an old analogy that you will never be given a second chance to make the first impression and if your first impression is your portfolio you had better make sure that you wow your client. Portfolios have changed somewhat since I practised as a professional photographer. In my days the Internet was in its infancy and electronic media was still being developed. Most professional photographers now have their portfolios written to a DVD or CD. Some of them being interactive with information that will link the client to himself or herself with a touch of a mouse button or a 3G mobile phone. The design of the portfolio is very important and you would need to get this done professionally as the market today is so fierce that you will only have that one chance. Gone are the days that a professional photographer would be seen with a tidy portfolio case under his arm strutting his stuff!
5. How many submissions from photographers do you receive on a monthly basis and what is the proper submission process or etiquette for a new photographer to get his work in front of a magazine editor?
We receive about two portfolio submissions a month from our readers. Most of them are received via the Internet. The Internet has made it very easy for us to view and to assess work. We try and finalize the content of an edition in advance so hardly ever would a portfolio appear the moment it has been received unless it is that exceptional that we would try and hold a planned article back to include it in the current edition. There is absolutely no set criteria for submitting your work and all that you need do is to mail us and from there we would give you direction. Initially, low res JPEG images are preferable – after that, we would tell you exactly what is needed.
6. If the photos are wildlife or travel related, should they include a story?
It is preferable that they include copy and captions as this makes it far more enjoyable for the readers to take pleasure and to understand the motivation behind the author. Most people who are new to photography would like to know how it was done and maybe to be given some tips or tricks that they may adopt in trying to produce better photographs themselves.
I have included a photograph that was taken by one of our readers that aptly demonstrates my point…What did Gillian do to take such an amazing photograph?
7. If a talented amateur photographer were reading this interview today, whose goal is to make a career for them in the tough world of professional photography, what advice would you give them?
Professional photographers are a strange breed and most of them are reluctant to share any information with you. However, there are some of them, especially the older more established photographers, who would be only too keen to help you where they could. My advice is that you read as much relevant material as possible and ask as many questions as you can. The colleges and learning institutions would have some information available to you as they are in the industry that will assist in your preparation to take on the challenges of the real world of the professional photographer. If you are planning on an apprenticeship with a professional photographer you had better make sure that you have some knowledge as to what would be needed from you. Amateurs who are just starting out have absolutely no chance at all.
8. A lot of magazines, like yours, are now available in web form. How does this platform-shift affect photographers? What new opportunities are available to photographers in web versions of publications?
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the web has affected the print media. However, in our case, most people still want to see good photography in print as other magazines such as National Geographic and similar magazines etc. We have also taken the initiative to produce Camera&Image in a web format that you may subscribe to and download. What I do like about web editions is that they may be made totally interactive with links that will take you to manufactures and suppliers websites or to photographer’s portfolios. This is a relatively new area for us but we are fully embracing it. In the short term will print disappear? I should think not but then I have learnt to never say never.
9. What do you think about video in the new DSLR cameras, and how do you see it impacting photography? Do you think that video will absorb still photography, for example, editors telling photographers to shoot video from which they will extract stills or clips?
The quality of the video being produced today from the current breed of hybrid cameras is absolutely outstanding. Will they replace a stand-alone video camera? At this stage, I am reluctant to say. As I have said in my previous answer, never to say never. If you said 10 years ago that film would disappear you would have been laughed at. My personal feelings are that a dedicated filmmaker, excuse the term, would still like to use a dedicated camera for his or her work. Much the same for a professional stills photographer. However he now has the choice and he may adapt his choice to his needs, as both options are available to him or her. It is also possible to extract superb still images from the footage obtained from these cameras if they have that facility.
10. Can you give us a few examples of your favourite Camera and Image photo stories and tell us why you think they worked?
There are quite a few but those that stand out in my mind were produced by Jurgen Shadeberg, Roger Ballen, Patrick de Mervelec, Alf Khumalo. Johan Wilke, David Dodds and the husband and wife team of Roger and Pat De La Harpe. There were many more but these have cherry toppings.
Wedding photograph captured in Jurgen Shadeberg’s inimitable style.
Jurgen, as I termed him is South Africa’s, Cartier Bresson. What an amazing and outstanding photographer. An absolute gentleman and so keen to share his life and experiences with us.
The Inkspots were a close harmony group from Springs as captured by Alf Kumalo
Alf Khumalo, I absolutely love that man. Alf is a photojournalist who made his name during the apartheid era during the struggle for unity in our country. I have very many fond memories of Alf and what a role model he is for aspiring photographers in our wonderful, multicultural country.
Cover shoot for Digital Photo SA by Johan Wilke
Johan produced a few very compelling portfolios during the life of Camera&Image. Fortunately or unfortunately the print edition of Digital Photo SA was never realised.
Patrick De Mervelec on set with Johnny Clegg and Savuka
Patrick De Mervelec shoots the cover for the June edition of C&I 2007 that I had autographed.
Patrick de Mervelec is a French photographer who has been living and working in South Africa, is married to a South African lady and is a member of the Leica foundation in Paris. Patrick produced a few outstanding portfolios for us – Johnny Clegg… the Johannesburg Ballet and the last being the Gautrain project. I need say no more about Patrick as he has become a personal friend of mine.
Puppy between feet: Roger Ballen
Roger Ballen is also well known to us and has recently received a lifetime achievement award.
Persian, as shot by David Dodds
Text block that was used to introduce an outstanding body of work produced by David Dodds for an edition of Camera&Image.
Roger & Pat De La Harpe
In search of the African Wild Dog: Roger & Pat De La Harpe
We were taken to Botswana and it was with the Wild Dog that I was able to do the interview with Pat and Roger. If you have not read this book I would strongly recommend that you do. (At the time of this writing the book is no longer in print.)
‘In search of the African Wild Dog’ is beautifully written and photographed by Pat and Roger but unfortunately it is no longer in print. In closing, one of the things that Roger said to me was. “If people can look at their world and treat it with care and treat each other with care, respect and understanding you can do a lot of that with photography…” We have absolutely no doubt that Camera&Image is the magazine for outstanding portfolios and has been used to showcase some of the best works in our country and we are very proud of that.
11. Any parting advice or inspiration you would like to share?
I have come a long way since the early days of digital photography when a 2.5 million pixel digital camera made big news. All I would like to add at this stage is to be true to yourself. Live a God-fearing life and concern yourself with others who are less fortunate than you are and live and embrace this new and very exciting experience with us.
Interview conducted by Mario Fazekas Kruger 2 Kalahari
The editorial staff of Digital Photo SA are well aware that some or if not all of you who are viewing and reading this have never seen an edition of Camera&Image as we have no boundaries nor borders anymore. We will undertake to share some of the work that was published throughout its pages as it was outstanding, compelling and so inspiring with so much of it shot on film. Also look out for our new and upcoming photographers as they share their experience and work with us.
“Be true to yourself. Live a God-fearing life and concern yourself with others who are less fortunate than you are and live and embrace this new and very exciting experience with us.”
Digital Photo SA: The Digital Photographic Magazine for Creative Enthusiasts.