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Mandela’s funeral

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Well, the Kessler shuttle pod and the stand-alone fashion time lapse shoot had to wait.

With Nelson Mandela’s unfortunate demise came the word from Polaris Images to cover the event for the news desk.  It has been a hectic week to say the least.  From Cape Town, to Joburg to Pretoria to deepest Soweto… From one day to the next it was a continuous never-ending job – hard on the body n soul…  averaging 3/4 hours sleep a night… But having said that – it was great to have covered the 10 days of mourning for South Africa’s ‘greatest son’  (the personal highlight having to be the FNB Stadium memorial service last Tues… nothing beats seeing 500-600 people dancing and running towards you all at full voice singing Madiba’s struggle songs).

As for actual work, well – for these big events – there is not much scope for achieving so much outside those already in the wire pool (your usual suspects of AFP, AP, Reuters etc) or those working with papers already.  When I phoned and emailed round pic desks – ominously – those editors who were also photogs – all had auto-emails stating ‘back nxt week Wednesday’.  As one editor described it to me – it’s just one big ‘cluster-f*ck’ when it comes to assigning with this whole thing!’.  Turning up for accred in Joburg said it all… me n a colleague spent part of the three hours waiting to get the badge trying to work out how many journos had rocked up in Joburg – Our best guess was around 8000-10,000.. those at the London and Beijing Olympics said those events were nothing compared to this…

As for assignments… After the first few, it pretty much trickled down to snail’s pace as the week wore on.   And to be honest – the scope you had for decent photography was limited to a degree to generally people celebrating (mostly) or mourning – in one way or another – Madiba’s passing as well as all the symbols and pics of him everywhere around.

So why do it?  Well – apart from the actual experience of working on such a momentous occasion, and working with Polaris (who I honestly enjoy working with and are becoming a regular employer, esp in other fields of photog), I do also miss doing this kind of work I must say.  As I have said countless times – as a business model – it doesn’t make too much sense esp with these big events – but on a personal level, I do still enjoy and feel am good at it (once back in the zone).

It is interesting though – from a business perspective – that I was initially offered a full 6 day commission at the outset with a Scandinavian paper for the event that would have more than paid my trip and expenses. 6 months ago, when Madiba first reportedly became ill, the same paper had offered me a commission then but – because they would not cover my transport costs from Cape Town to Joburg, I declined as it would have cost me more to do the job.  Now – I could have had a far better more lucrative job with them (seeing as I was up there anyway).  Instead they went with the initial photog who worked for them 6 months ago.  I am def not disappointed though.. The relative freedom allowed me to cover a wide range of different news perspectives and – upon request from Polaris – lead me to the curious case of the fake deaf interpreter, Thamsanqa Jantjie, which was by far the work highlight of the last week (and smthg I will blog about next). It would prob never of happened had I gone with the commission.

Anyway – After all I have said and written the past 2 years about the disadvantages of news photography on a business and personal level, I have now written to Polaris news ed…saying that if a client asks in future, I am willing to take on the job – anywhere on the Continent – and will cover my own travel costs…

I know…

hypocrite are you bloody a…  feel free to make your own sentence up.

I am immersed this week with the Kessler Shuttle Pod and time lapse photography.  Not only am I undertaking a test stand-alone time lapse fashion shoot with a complicated 2/3 axis movement, but same day it looks like we will be hired for the first time by a commercial set to do a time lapse.  One thing I do love is the variety  there is in my job….

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