I have shot many portraits over the years and I’ve loved that the people in my photographs have crossed my path more than once, finding their way in front of my lens, marking a certain moment of their lives and mine. I would imagine everyone has experienced some reminiscing looking at photos of them when they were younger, when they had a special celebration, or simply just a moment.
What I have found most fascinating is how some people will find their way back in front of your lens more than once. These images start telling more stories and suddenly moments fuse together as a timeline. Before you know it, one image becomes part of a story of images.
So this is where it started, in 1997, as I was just entering matric and studying photography. I took full advantage of the friends I had to pose for portraits. At that time I had a Nikkormat FT2, my first camera. After moving recently, I dug up two images I had taken with this camera: one of Jade and one of Colin.
Our youth, frozen in black and white time. I loved that I found these two images together, as these two had not known each other very well when I took the pictures. I subsequently found out a few years ago they had connected in their twenties and had a child together. I haven’t seen either of them in a long time and connected with them briefly on Facebook some months back.
Packing my sentiments away, I was already preparing for my next day out to take pictures. Driving down to Muizemberg on a Sunday is great, especially when you get a new camera to try out! Today it was the OLYMPUS OMD-EM5, a little bit of modernised nostalgia, a super retro looking mirror-less interchangeable lens model, mimicking the old Olympus OM1, giving you a near 35mm experience when taking a picture, bar the electronic viewfinder which takes some getting used to. Aesthetically old school, with all the modern functions of a high end DLSR. Customising the camera the way I wanted to use it, setting up the shortcut buttons on the touch screen, while using the viewfinder to compose my shots. I pretty much tried out every Art Filter the camera had to offer, a unique feature that not many other cameras have and I loved that you could still shoot manual while applying the effect at the same time. I was also seriously impressed with the low light capabilities of the camera. Naturally loving monochrome, I decided to take some black and white pictures too, I was amazed at the mount of detail the image held.
It was almost lunchtime so I decided to take a break, parked the car and strolled down to the restaurants. On the way there I passed two little boys playing and I stopped for a while to talk to them. They were busking, guitar in the hand and a little table with various crafts they had made. I had the camera with me, so I gave them some money and asked if he could play a song for me and if I could take a picture. He agreed to my proposal and proceeded to play. He played with heart, no apparent chords I had ever heard, but he played and I was captivated!
A few days after this outing, I posted the one of the pictures to Facebook. Days later Colin mails me to let me know I had met his son. I was confused at first, until he said that the boy in the photograph was his son! So now I have a set of family photos, each of them I had a personal experience with, each not knowing that I knew the other. Now I have a collection of a family which took 17 years to collect and I suspect it’s far from being complete!
It’s a great feeling to put yourself out there, to be quiet and to observe people. I found it was a great exercise for me too, to improve my portrait photography and I thank the loved ones that have been around that have crossed the path of my camera.
Some call it coincidental, I call it wonderful.