I’ve been neglecting my blog page for some time now. If I remember correctly the last time I posted an item was around May 2016, and that’s just not good enough. I’ve had so many complimentary comments from people around the world on the way I prepare my blog posts and also on the content that it’s crazy not to be more diligent about it.
One of the reasons for the inactivity has been that I’ve hardly been able to go out on photo trips with my friends for some time now. It’s just the way things have panned out and no-one is really to blame. I’ve missed the easy companionship that we’ve always had as a group, the laughter, the banter and the serious photography. That’s a grand combination. I’ve been able to go out on my own a few times, but I’ve done it without a particular plan in mind, and most of the trips have been a waste of time and fuel. Through all of this the stalwart has been my friend Nola Meiring who’s always happy to head for the hills as long as she doesn’t have a shoot lined up for that day. Even there, the activities have been few.
Toward the beginning of last year Nola and I decided to combine our photography abilities and talents as we do different things and so complement one another. And so Photo Finesse Africa saw the light of day, and we staged a small exhibition at Dunning Country House near Merrivale in the Kwazulu-Natal Midlands, followed by a joint exhibition at the Hilton Arts Festival in September. Neither of these events threatened to make us wealthy, and since then we’ve decided that those exhibitions aren’t what we need to market ourselves in the very competitive world of photography.
We’ve decided to try to establish a market outside of South Africa. Our lovely country has political and economic turmoil that all but rules out the possibility of selling photo art on our own doorstep. We’ve had a few sales and have learned through them that to hang blindly onto our notions of what we are prepared to offer to the market is self-defeating. We’ve had to swallow hard and adapt our standards and choices to what the customer wants. That hasn’t been a comfortable adjustment. One client decided to use his own images as ours were “too much like photographs,” and we found ourselves trying to make his material look good for the sake of a sale. It didn’t sit well with either of us and we’ll not do that again. We believe our market is overseas - the UK, the USA, Europe, Canada and even Australia.
The logical next question is “What kind of material is likely to be in demand?” It’s all but impossible to escape what I call “kitch Africa,” and we’ll do some of that, but we’ve set our sights on producing a range of images that are essentially Africa, showing off this continent’s splendour, wildlife, flora, people and towns to best advantage. What we’ve learned from the past year is that “straight” photography has a very limited appeal in the marketplace, and that we have to involve ourselves in the more artistic side of photography, meaning that digital editing becomes a major element in our images. I must admit to being surprised by this realisation as I’d always believed that the smarter, cleaner and sharper a photo the better is was. But this is not what’s wanted, so we’ve had to adapt.
For me this has meant a very steep learning curve, coming to terms with editing skills and functions I hadn’t mastered before. In this respect Nola has been a star with her abilities at the keyboard, and I’ve been able to pick up some knowledge, enough to produce the images that I’ve come to enjoy. We’re in the process of creating a portfolio of what we think will be a good portrayal of life in South Africa. Wanting to succeed commercially is only one of our objectives. This is really about presenting our country to the world on canvas as we believe that South Africa has a good deal to offer the rest of the world.
I’ve included some of the images that I’ve prepared, and very soon shall be able to include Nola’s share as she works through her material and adapts it to the format that we are hopeful will find customers and will also give pleasure to all who view them.