Finding a Visual Narrative in the Karoo
Just spent a good while in the Karoo (semi-arid region North of Cape Town) finishing up 1 of my long term photographic projects ‘Karoo: A Changing Landscape‘, along with continuing a bit more time lapse out there. Unless I see a gap in the work in my final edit, this was my last trip out for it. I certainly hope it will not be my last time out to the Karoo though – a place I have repeatedly said is amazing to visit and spend time in. I was initially intrigued by the serene and timeless landscape but I def ended up going again and again for all the eccentric and amazing people there as well. I do still have a time lapse show reel to finish up at some point so further visits are almost certainly to come.
I usually put the unprocessed images from a long-term project to one side to give me a chance to detach myself from it. This always helps later on with the editing process but I decided this time to put together a small edit to see if I was on the right path in general with the overall look and feel of the piece. The visual narrative of the work has built up throughout the time I have spent on it but certainly on my latest trip I think I dug deep into the very essence of the story and the way I initially foresaw how I might tell it.
Since leaving the world of more instant news, pic library and NGO type photography I have always known that the key to any decent work would always be finding my own visual voice and signature. I have found it interesting to see how my work has developed relatively rapidly through earlier projects such as ‘Hangberg – The Other Side‘: http://www.georgephilipas.com/gallery/hangberg/ .
I believe it is in this work though that a stronger visual signature has developed – especially on the portrait side of things. From sex workers in Beaufort West, to sheep farmers, to city types flocking to the Karoo for the annual Afrika Burn event out there, there is a visual consistency throughout the portraits which speaks of the inherent beauty of the Karoo but also of the impending uncertainty that coming change might bring.
It is interesting how I have began to see and notice things differently than what I used to as well. A case in point is the following pic I took while speeding back to Cape Town on the final leg of my recent journey:
I saw the above scene on the side of the road as I whizzed past it at around 100km/h just north of a small town called Laingsburg. I instantly recognised in it an earlier photo I had taken over a year ago that was very similar in nature and thought how it may fit well when placed next to each other.
I didn’t stop though at the time… but it played on my mind for nearly an hour. It was more than 60km after passing it that the feeling of an opportunity missed overwhelmed me and I turned around and went back (yep – that’s over 120km round trip to take a pic of a damn cactus in front of a railway power station). I am not sure if I’ll even use either pic (the latter isn’t even in my first edit at the mo), but having the option there was important enough for me to turn back. This might be more of a study of one man’s OCD rather than anything photography related but the fact I could instantly recognise the image there, is a sign of how much the way I perceive an image these days has moved forward from past work.
The next stage, once the dust has settled and I’ve done my own edit, will be to seek out a professional edit and layout before starting the challenge of marketing the project. After all the time worked on it, I look forward (for once) to the marketing side of things and getting it out there in general!
A short, current edit of the project ‘Karoo: A Changing Landscape’ can be seen at: