“SLOW DOWN look again…”
Louis just released his first coffee table book titled “SLOW DOWN look again…” This is a 148 page, 25cm x 25cm, hard cover book containing beautiful, old style, black and white, story telling photographs and text of the residents of North End.
Printing is of the highest standard on 157gsm MattArt paper. All the photographs were captured by Louis over the last four to five years. He used an old Hasselblad from the 1950’s and black and white film.
The book was launched on 6th November 2015 during the Prince Albert Leesfees. Two more launches were held in Stellenbosch on 26th November and in Pretoria on 6th December.
“SLOW DOWN look again…” is selling at R 490, plus postage and packaging, of which 5% is going towards the Prince Albert Community Trust.
Photography in the Karoo! It’s not about the camera, it’s about the engagement!
It’s a life enriching experience!
Why go to Tuscany or Provence for photography opportunities and finding peace of mind if our own Karoo, which is on our doorstep, easily accessible, tourism friendly and affordable, offers the same or better opportunities?
Photographers are in their element where there is quality Light available, where there is atmosphere, character and nostalgia, where stories are written on everything one sees, where people are warm, friendly, humble, rich in knowledge and stories, kind and sincere, where there is an abundance of form, texture, structure, colour, contrast, solitude, emotion, space and safety, where there is an absence of clutter, pretentions, materialism and noise, where the pace is slower, where so much of our history is hidden. The Karoo offers an abundance of it all, more than anyone will be able to capture in a life time!
For too many years I have sadly been guilty of speeding through the ‘hot and dry’ Karoo from the north to the south and back, just to get to the other side as quickly as possible. Fortunately, and in a way difficult to explain why, although I am convinced it is because photography taught me to ‘look differently’ at things, to ‘go closer’ and to ‘slow down’, I have started to plan my journeys differently and to include as many dirt roads through the various regions of the Karoo as often as I could, making as many stops as often as possible. I stayed over more and more and I started to observe and appreciate everything and everybody from a new point of view, exploring the wealth of beauty and diversity I was never able to see before. This process of discovery gained momentum and pulled me in until I realised I have lost my soul in the Karoo. Eventually I bought an old Victorian house in Prince Albert, a place with a history going back two hundred and fifty years, that is from 2012. It is only when one becomes part of the Karoo community that one fully appreciates the meaning of words like “less is more!”
With Prince Albert as a base I am know able to explore and capture the various treasures of the Karoo, from region to region, season to season, exploring the numerous faces, expressions, voices and emotions it has to offer. In slowing down my senses were sharpened and I am now able to see again, to smell, to hear, to taste and to feel, almost as if for the first time. Not many a spiritual or a wellness experience can beat some time out alone in the Karoo. At first it is not easy to deal with the first discovery, oneself, figuring out where one stands in relation to one’s creator, one’s loved ones and one’s next of kin. Thinking about who you are, what you stand for, your purpose in life and what does it mean for others? Thereafter it becomes easier to engage with the environment, to connect with people, with places, with weather conditions and with things. After some time one’s images start to reflect the true spirit of the subjects, and of oneself. This experience corresponds with what has been said by another photographer a long time ago: “every photo says something about the subject, and something about the photographer”!
It is here in the wide open spaces and the stillness and safety of the Karoo that one discovers that photography is not about the camera but that it is about engaging with the subject. My addiction to photography has since shifted from the urge to press some button on the latest model camera to the satisfaction I am getting from an honest and effective engagement with the subject. Only when an intimacy and a relationship of trust has been developed between photographer and subject is the subject prepared to reveal its true character, to disclose the real story. This is when photographs start to reflect what’s below the surface, getting to the heart and the soul of what matters. Achieving this level of engagement requires getting closer and going slower! Looking again, and again! Finding the clues, looking for the missing pieces of the ‘puzzle’, developing a better understanding of what matters to the subject.
It was out of a growing respect that developed from spending time in landscapes dating back more than 100 million years ago, driving over and standing on top of magnificent passes which were built by hand more than 200 years ago, sitting in front of local residents 80 to 100 years old, in buildings and on furniture over 200 years old, that I started to ‘feel guilty’ or ‘out of my place’ when capturing these subjects using modern digital technology only. I have since invested in a 1975 Hasselblad 6 x 6 medium format film camera and I also acquired an early 80’s 6 x 17 medium format panorama film camera which I now use in conjunction with my very first 35mm Pentax K1000 film camera and a 35mm Canon 5D digital camera.
It is also out of respect and appreciation for the quality of the Light in the Karoo and how it changes from season to season, day to day, morning to afternoon, that I will always attempt to use and make the most of natural Light. My appreciation for Light and time has grown immensely and each time I press the shutter release I am intensely aware of the importance of Light and time, for our lives, for the longevity of the earth and everything on it, and for the impact it has on every image captured.
Louis shares his experiences and the learning of his own journey through life and photography with others and developed a four day photography course which is hosted in the beautiful and tourism friendly Prince Albert. The course includes a landscape and a portrait practical workshop and it addresses both the visual and technical skills required to capture images with greater impact. www.louisbothaphotography.co.za
Prepared by Louis Botha “if you can see it, feel it, you can capture it”