2016 was a big year for me, and a year full of firsts. In October 2016 I trekked up to the Photo & Film Expo held every year at the Ticketpro Dome in Fourways, Johannesburg, on a solo mission, making use of every public transport system available to me. This had been my first time visiting Johannesburg, never mind solo, as I’ve managed to avoid the infamous big city of gold up until now. Not having a clue what to expect at the Expo, I packed a carry-on and a backpack, armed with my Nikon D610 and a 50mm 1.8 lens.
Now it is also worth mentioning that I had the wonderful opportunity of exhibiting some of my work at the Photo & Film Expo at a group exhibition organised by She.Clix, a team of women photographers by name of Olefa Yalo and Stellah Muthee, working to promote the work of women in photography. We were even featured on SABC 3’s Morning Live, too.
The main aim of the trip had been to network, so I had very little intention of shooting. As it were, I had paid for access to the Rate My Photo lounge just incase.
Once at the Photo & Film Expo, I soon realised that my mellow approach to it all wouldn’t do at all, and with my basic gear, I started shooting at every opportunity I got. Luckily, there were continuous lighting studio setups available for anyone to go shoot at all over the place, and the people from Rate My Photo and founder Sven Slabbert were very accommodating and allowed me to borrow their lights and whatever I needed to get the shot. With all the RMP models around it also wasn’t difficult to find someone to work with, and make-up artists Nikkita Naidoo and Carla de Bouchet created some insane art on people’s faces in the RMP lounge.
I ended up shooting not only models, but also friends I made at the Expo, including Reneilwe Marengwa from Lady on Life who kindly let me steal her away from her duties so that I could take her portrait, and also fellow photographer, Blunt Moya.
Apart from incredible opportunities to make beautiful pictures, the biggest highlight was certainly meeting TC Maila, who is my South African Travel Photographer idol, in person. He is such an incredibly inspiring person, and for all his talent and brilliance, humble and kind.
The 2016 Photo & Film Expo had been life-changing for me on so many levels, walking away with new friends, business contacts and new work, inspiration and ideas. As a photographer, the Photo & Film Expo is a must on your calendar, and highly recommended. It’s also a good idea to contact Sven Slabbert about their Rate My Photo Open Days at the Photo & Film Expo to get access to incredible models and professional make-up artists.
Extra special thanks to Matt Raven and his team at the Photo & Film Expo for all their hard work and for making this event so extra special. Also to PhotoFactory, RapidStudio, Gerry Pelser and Sven Slabbert for the use of their lights and extras, to each and every model I worked with, and of course the make-up artists without whom nothing would be nearly as spectacular.