In honour of Rocktober, we talk Rock & Roll with three guys who rock in more ways than one. They need no introduction: colour conceptualist Andre Badenhorst, aKING and Fokofpolisiekar drummer (and low-key photographer) Jaco S. Venter, and Liam Lynch who finds and captures energy on and off stage. We find out what they miss the most about pre-Covid days.
What does rock mean to you?
Jaco: Either a wide range of guitar music or a devil-may-care attitude, both of which I approve of.
Andre: Rock is a lifestyle, it’s as easy as that!
What do you do on your day off?
Liam: I’m not sure how to answer this. Photography is not just a job to me, so even on my off days I can be seen searching for an image and different ways to frame a scene. On my Instagram, I use this phrase that sums up perfectly. “I am a photographer; it’s that simple. I am an artist; it’s that complicated.”
Do you have any hobbies?
Jaco: Mostly drinking, but I’m quite keen to get back into playing chess. I was part of the chess first team in high school – a lifetime ago.
Andre: Skateboarding and I love playing tennis, but I don’t think a lot of people know that. Hahaha!
Do you prefer to shoot live shows or planned shoots?
Liam: I love them all, although I am perhaps mostly known for live shoots. I see myself as a documentarian, which is what I hope to bring about on the road, backstage or on tour.
Andre: Definitely planned shoots! I’m obsessed with light, so the moment I have full control over my lighting, I’m a happy dude!!
What is your go-to photography gear?
Jaco: I mostly shoot with my Fujifilm X-Pro2. Sometimes when I’m looking for something a bit more specific, I would use other Fujifilm bodies. Godox has loaned me a couple of AD200 flashes which I’m enjoying. They’re compact and versatile to shoot with. Those flashes incorporated into the MagBox system from MagMod makes for a very comfortable, easy to assemble, high-quality and portable strobe solution. I’ve had the opportunity to test the 3 Legged Thing Legends Ray tripod for the past couple of months and can see why a legend like Ray would put his name on it. This tripod is, for its compact and travel-friendly size, one of the most stable and quick to set up tripods I’ve ever used. It’s a joy to shoot with and keeps photography fun.
Liam: The standard lenses I use include the 35mm and 50mm. I recently switched to Fujifilm gear and use the 23mm and 35mm (their equivalents) on an X-Pro3 or the X100F with the fixed 23mm lens. I adore the cameras and love shooting with those focal lengths as primes.
Andre: I shoot with a Fujifilm GFX 50R medium-format mirrorless camera. Thanks to the insane quality that this camera produces, it’s the perfect tool for conceptual work. I also have a minimum of six Godox flashes with me at all times (four AD600 Pro’s and two AD200’s).
How has music influenced your style of shooting?
Jaco: Music has always influenced and inspired me in everything I do, including photography. There is a flow that playing music has taught me – it’s when you block everything out that isn’t needed for the task at hand, it becomes super easy because you’re just feeling it. It’s in that state when music and photography become a thrilling form of expression.
Andre: Music and skateboarding both influence my style of shooting as it represents a lifestyle… one of not adhering to all social norms and rules in our everyday life.
You get to travel back in time, where do you go?
Jaco: The ‘70s in Britain seemed like it was such a creative and inspired time.
Liam: If I get to take my camera with me, I’d like to pick a time that I haven’t seen documented. Imagine documenting Beethoven composing or even performing his works. This is something we imagine, but have never seen in any modern form.
Andre: Back to the ’70s. Haha! Most of the sets we build for our shoots are ’70s inspired, so it’ll make life a whole lot easier!
What is your favourite local musician or band?
Jaco: Hahaha! That’s a hard one. I have so many friends in the scene that it becomes very difficult to pin one down as my favourite. I was recently listening to Hanro Havenga’s (also a great lensman) band, Miagii, and was wondering when they are bringing out new music so I’ll give them a shoutout.
Liam: The obvious answer is Fokofpolisiekar; with everything they mean to me and that I have done with them. But right alongside is kidofdoom that moved me in startling ways every time I saw them live and brings out that “Pretoria in my hart” feeling. Oh, and Blk Jks!
Andre: Easy one, FOKOFPOLISIEKAR!
What is your most memorable rock memory?
Jaco: There are too many I cannot talk about, hahaha! But, I once met Roger Taylor from Queen at a friend’s photographic exhibition. Pretty Rock ‘n Roll!
Liam: Stage diving with Francois van Coke, camera in hand. It was at a Ramfest concert where I saw him head out and followed him. I hoped to get a shot of him above a sea of people, but it was at night and the steam from the pit fogged up the lens immediately (and I broke a rib!). Everyone was watching him and didn’t really catch me properly as I came sailing in alongside two seconds later. I was held up and crowd-surfed but connected HARD with someone’s head as I landed.
Andre: I have a couple… Photographing Rise Against in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch back in 2013. It was insane meeting and working with those dudes, and the images were featured in Rolling Stone. Another big one was travelling to the Netherlands with Jack Parow to film Parow Fest. Wild party!
In your opinion, what is the most iconic rock image?
Jaco: Bob Gruen and Mick Rock have some great images from the ‘70s but there is one by Annie Leibovitz that always comes to mind – the one of Keith Richards passed out after a show on a fabric backdrop. It seems so real and powerful.
Liam: Pennie Smith’s photo of Paul Simon smashing his bass on the cover of The Clash’s London Calling album. That shot’s a true icon; it pulled me in before I even heard The Clash and it’s on their best album.
Andre: Too many, yoh! One that immediately comes to mind is a conceptual image of Marilyn Manson shot by the one and only David LaChapelle. I also love Pennie Smith’s iconic live image of The Clash!
Name one thing you miss most about pre-Covid times?
Jaco: Playing big, outdoor festivals.
Liam: Live shows with massive crowds and stages that aren’t ground level like the live streams I’ve photographed. Even when they come back, I imagine it will be a while until I can do one without anxiety… maybe once there’s a vaccine.
Andre: WORK! Luckily things are picking up again.
Did you learn anything new during the lockdown?
Liam: I like to think that I learned how to quit smoking, although I have slipped up once or twice bumming a cigarette. I have not bought a pack of cigarettes since they became legal again.
A photographer we interviewed a few years back once said that he believes everyone should have at least one ridiculous dream (like going to space). What is yours?
Jaco: Wow! Space sounds pretty out there. Cool! I’ll also say going to space, hah!
Liam: I don’t know if this dream tends towards the ridiculous, but it certainly seems more out of reach these days… I want to travel to Ireland with a writer like Hunter Kennedy to work on a long-term photo project. It’s something we have spoken about randomly for years, but it seems like a ridiculous dream now more than ever.
Andre: Being able to teleport back in time to meet Johnny Cash.