Friday, March 30, 2007

For Life

Hold a true friend with both your hands. ~Nigerian Proverb

Selwyn Elna and Mark Jumats. Selwyn (or Selvin as some spelled his name), is Annies son and Mark is his cousin. They are the best of friends. Mark is slightly older and takes on a protective role over Selwyn. Both are very gentle boys. I took this picture in their Grandmothers home. They spend a lot of time at the house as their Grandparents are a huge influence on their lives. That day I took a number of shots of them just posing in the bedroom and called them the Maria's Bedroom series. It was summer and very hot, the lads basically just run around in their underwear, often the little girls too. Even as kids my sisters and I did the same thing in Zimbabwe.

Selwyn didn't move away with his Mother, Annie, he preferred to live with his Grandfather and still stays in this little village behind our home. He is a quiet lad and does not say much. He loved his photograph being taken though and was not at all shy. He always told me he wanted to be either a Policeman or a rugby player.

Mark and Selwyn, true friends, friends for life.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

You Were Born

The silence often of pure innocence Persuades when speaking fails.

William Shakespeare

I took this photograph of Keenan Adams just after his Mother left. She had taken Keenan with her to the small town of De Rust, leaving early one morning with his two brothers. I remember seeing them walking down the road holding her hands tightly. She was leaving the farm, his home to find work in town. Later on in the afternoon I thought I heard his voice so I went up to their home and there he was, back. He had hitchhiked by himself back to Rooi Rivier Farm because this was his home and he wanted to live with his Grandmother, Anna May. Luckily the farm's schoolteacher had seen him hiking by the outskirts of De Rust and brought him back. She told me he never cried at all and was just so determined to go home. I sat with him that afternoon and spoke with him about Anna, his Mum and he had this silent, sad look on his face. He didn't speak...he didn't need to...

Thursday, March 22, 2007


"Hope is like a bird that senses dawn and carefully starts to sing while it is still dark."

Wedding Day, I think, my favourite photograph of the documentary series, "People Of The Klein Karoo". Taken early in the morning in Annies bedroom just before her second marriage. The day before, Annie asked me if I could come over and take photographs for the family. I got there early and just sat on the floor in the room and quietly watched the proceedings. The light was shining through the small window on the left. There was much going on and the mood was a mix of excitement and anxiety. Her little girl, Beetjie was very distressed and held on to her Mother.

I watched Beetjie mostly and just saw her expressions and felt her hesitancy and some sadness. I don't know if she remembers her Father as she was very little when he died. Annie is a wonderful Mother and calmed the little girl down and soon Beetjie was back to her old self and joining in the festivities. Just for a few moments, though in these shots, I saw the true emotions show through.

I didn't stay long and I left almost unnoticed. Even with all the excitement and activity, there was a stillness and silence about their home. Hope .....

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

For Ever And Ever

I do not know how to distinguish between our waking life and a dream. Are we not always living the life that we imagine we are. Thoreau

Leandra Elna, better known as "Beetjie". Annie's daughter and the most photogenic and delightful child I have ever photographed. Without fail, she would manage to uplift everyone and anyone around her with her confidence, sense of humour and imagination. Often she would choose the settings and "poses" for herself and all the other kids. I always took her advice!

In my work, imagination often takes first place. I sometimes see the pictures before I take the shot, even hours or days before and it stays with me until I am satisfied that I have achieved what I set out to portray. Being a painter as well has been only beneficial to my photography. Even in dreams I see something, I remember it and try to create the vision in reality, always listening and watching people like Beetjie who never fail to inspire and humble me with their honesty and dignity.


Whatever satisfies the soul is truth. Walt Whitman

I think what I most search for in my work, is soul, because it is real, it has meaning and it makes an impact. If you can portray emotion, never mind the technical aspects of the photograph, you have achieved more than most.

In this photograph of Annie Elna called , simply 9 months, I think I have captured the inner sadness of her. Pregnant and concerned for the future, two other children and soon to be remarried. Annie lost her first husband in a car accident. She is a woman of great faith and I often attended the little informal Church gatherings in Oupa Hendriks home and I would listen to her sing her sad songs in the most beautiful deep and enchanting voice.

It took many months for her to trust me and while I would photograph her two children, Selwyn and Beetjie frequently, Annie always held back. Finally she came to trust me and I always gave her the respect she deserved. She has since remarried and had another son, the family moved away to another farm but Selwyn, her first born son , came back to Red River Farm to live with his Grandfather. I never asked why, it was not my place to question their choices.

I am sitting here in Australia now thinking and wondering how they all are....always seeing those incredibly sad eyes and hoping that one day, she will find some peace......