I love it when I take tourists out in South Africa. It gets me into places I would never really go. And when my tourist is Art Wolfe, then of course there are cameras that come out which means I add to my portfolio.
It also meant that I was working on scenes and images you wouldn’t usually expect from me- like inside a Moravian Church. The last time I photographed in a church I was kicked out from St Paul’s. So I was a bit apprehensive of another booting. Of much interest to me was to see how a master of photography worked his scenes. Like watching a male lion walking over the plains, Art waltzed through scenes like he owned them. Fast. He saw, switched on, composed and moved off, making me look like a fawn that the lion was walking up to. Dead meat. It is instantly recognisable that experience holds the key. The 10 000 hour rule was in full evidence and Art would wield his 40 000 hours of experience at a scene and rip it apart in a matter of seconds. The Moravian church in which I was cowering, awaiting a beating from the pastor was lamb to his slaughter. He walked in, cast his eyes across and pointed in various directions; “there’s a shot, there’s another, 70-200. Through there another- hit it with a polariser.” And 3 minutes later he was done, exploring outside for more Nat Geo covers. I spent the next 45 minutes in the church forcing myself to look, to damn well “see”. And eventually left with one acceptable shot.
And such is life. A humbling is needed every now and then, but with it comes inspiration. Here is a man who lives his trade. Who has never taken a holiday in 30 years, who lives with his camera by his side, who made me stop the car 5 times on the dreaded Chapman’s drive, who cultivates new concepts every day, who dreams of photographing till he dies and who still feeds his soul every day by taking his camera out and shooting. Every working pro or aspiring photographer needs to spend time with a photographer like Art once in their life.
I have. My career is now about to start.