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Cape Town Photographers

These photographers have made Cape Town their home base but travel the country, the continent, and the world in search of stories. Photojournalists like Jacques Marais and Chris de Beer-Proctor are an integral part of the success of local initiatives, providing them with incredible photographs and helping them tell their stories. Photographers like Heelen Walne and Callum Evans throw a spotlight on the beauty of our natural world and the importance of protecting it. Garrreth Bird and Jacques turn their lenses to the meeting between man and our vast environment.

I’ve interviewed Cape Town photographers from across various genres – get to know part of their stories and their work, look through their stunning photography, and have a look at our city and our world through the lenses of some fantastically talented people.

Alongside commercial work, each of these photographers and photojournalists has managed to pursue their passions – exploration and adventure; being out in nature, slowly and consciously; representation and queer rights – while actively contributing to that passion through their visual storytelling. And something I learned while chatting with them, is that all of them are lekker people. Maybe it’s something that comes with the gig.

This is an ongoing project, so watch this space!

Garrreth Bird | Adventure photographer and cinematographer

A brilliant photographer and cinematographer with an eye for adventure, Garrreth Bird was also the first photographer to give me some of his time with these interviews! His focus leans towards cinematography, and in addition to working with brands and production companies, he’s created some really awesome videos on climbing and extreme sports in South Africa. We chatted about how he got into this line of work, why he’s stayed, and some of his favourite places to explore.

"Professionally it's the job that takes preference and you do whatever you can to get it done and well. Personally, it’s the adventure that takes preference, but I’ve always got my little camera along to do a little bit of documenting. My little camera’s part of my adventure kit, you know, it’s always with me."

Jacques Marais | Outdoor photojournalist

Jacques is one of South Africa’s best and most impactful outdoor and extreme sports photographers and photojournalists, with over 30 years in the field and countless features in local and international publications. I met with Jacques in Kalk Bay for a chat about his work, his upcoming memoir, and the way its catalyst — a fall during a photoshoot that left him uncertain he’d walk again — has shifted his perspective about the rest of his life.

mountain biking in cape town

I think especially now, that’s where the real value for humans lies, is the reconnecting with nature. So instead of being out there with your watch, trying to run a personal best or climb a higher grading, it is really about breathing, taking time out, noticing what is happening around you.

Chris de Beer-Procter | Photojournalist & storyteller

Chris de Beer-Proctor is a fantastic local photojournalist specialising in documentary and portrature. Her work is rich and varied, but an overarching theme is the ethics and social politics of representation. Chris was a wonderful person to talk to, and as a journalist, she had to hold back from turning the interview on me! We chatted about Chris’ experiences as a storyteller, about some of the work she’s done, and about what it is to turn your lens onto someone.

There's just so much dignity and honour imbued in creating a portrait of someone. And who do we choose to turn that lens on? So I think it kind of gave me that awareness of how we give respect and dignity - and making a portrait of someone is a way of telling society that they're important.

Helen Walne | Underwater photographer

Helen Walne is a wonderful marine life photographer based in False Bay. She stumbled into photography while spending hours in the water every day, and has since become totally entranced, viewing it as a perfect, slow and conscious form of meditation. Her work captures the way light falls through the kelp forests, the bright colours of our underwater world, and the funky creatures big and small that make it home.

I love looking at stuff that grows on human structures. Oh, it really appeals to me. I love it. And how you’ve got this surface – which is not ever really a surface because it’s moving – but you’ve got the top and then you’ve got the jetty and it’s just basically the ocean colonising human space. And I love that there’s this special, creepy little world where things are just growing.

About this project

This is an ongoing project of interviews, forming part –  and the start – of my larger Local Knowledge Project. The idea of it formed when I searched ‘Cape Town photographer’ one day, and pretty much the only thing search results gave me were wedding photographers. And I knew that there are so, so many more photography genres represented in Cape Town, and by some incredible artists. So, I formed the plan and slowly started contacting photographers –  often after many hours of research into their genre and work. I’m so grateful to these first photographers, who agreed to be interviewed by an unknown with very little context, and who did so enthusiastically.

It’s been super rewarding so far, and my hope is to expand this project to cover landscape, drone, and street photography, among others. Giving a platform to our brilliant local photographers, and a resource for anyone interested in learning more about what they do and seeing their beautiful work!