My task was simple: Visit ten designated districts along the Olifants River and highlight their essence by capturing the poverty, pollution, over-grazing, water dependence, health care, consumerism, agriculture, economic growth, and any other influential factor or concept that stood out along the way. This is a far stretch from the usual misty mountains, winding two-tracks and yawning lions that I’m used to photographing on the average magazine assignment.
The plan of action was to drive with this long list on our laps and to try and spot them in our surroundings as we made our way along the Olifants River. This was easy enough… “There! That gully was caused by erosion” or “Aren’t those plants alien?” Tabby would call out. Stop. Get out. Take a pho…wait a second! How on earth do you make a ditch in the soil look good? Or a caster oil bush?
Getting eye-catching photographs of things that most people consider ugly is a real challenge, but one thing that years of experience on the road has taught me is that a small change in angle and a little bit of back light can make a world of a difference. So that’s exactly what I did. Every time we came across an abandoned building, a burnt out car or a graffiti-covered wall I would simply move up, down and around until the ugly turned into, well…something almost beautiful.