What is your favourite genre to shoot?

This is a question I’m asked frequently and I can say, with conviction, that I do appreciate the challenge each genre offers me as an artist. Using similar concepts when shooting different genres certainly pushes one towards expanding one’s limitations, resulting in growth as a photographer. But if I have to answer, I would say that my first love is street photography because it requires patience, awareness, vision, intuition and confidence to name but a few.

Tell us about your process – vision to end result

It is quite simple – always shoot with intent.

Phillip Erasmus

Shot in Maboneng after many visits, and lots of patience, and having visualised this image for a long time. The graffiti is now gone.

Tell us about the post-production process

I firmly believe that most photographers should strive to get it right in-camera and this starts with a proper planning process: why, who, what, where, when and how. “Don’t worry – I will fix it in post”, is never the best approach because often one cannot recover highlights or shadows of a photograph. Most of my post-production work is done in Lightroom and then, depending on the result I’ve “visualised”, I may use CaptureOne or one of the Nik Collection applications such as Silver Efex Pro to achieve the envisioned result.

Phillip Erasmus

Still life inspired by the work of Josef Sudek.

Are there any photographers you adore and draw inspiration from?

Many years ago I attended the Creative Photography Programme at DPC and it confirmed the importance of studying other artists’ work. Currently, I’m studying Josef Sudek’s work. Josef was a Czech photographer, best known for his photographs of Prague. My other favourites include Peter Lindbergh, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Saul Leiter, André Kertész, Edward Steichen and Annie Leibovitz. Although they shoot different genres, I draw inspiration from all of them resulting in me striving to be a better photographer.

Phillip Erasmus

How do you get paid to do what you want with your photography?

Photography is and always has been run like a business. End of story. In 2019, I started mentoring an aspiring photographer (he was busy with a four-month diploma in photography) and his first request, as we were structuring the programme, was – “I need not know about the settings when I take portraits and group photos”. I paused for a moment and then asked him the following – “Do you want to make money? Do you want to get married, have children and what car do you want to drive?” After listening to his answers I proceeded to ask him, what type of income he thought he needed to make all of this happen? I think you may get where I’m going with this… and I will repeat a statement from earlier: Photography is and should be run as a business. Full stop. In today’s competitive market you will have to diversify and offer more than just one thing, for example, photography, prints, albums, videography, blogs and more.

What gear is essential?

I love the combination of the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera and 85mm f/1.8 lens neatly packed into my Think Tank Retrospective 7, leaving enough space for my wallet to buy that cuppa when you’re out in the streets shooting 😉, and my mobile phone for editing and sharing images on the fly.

Phillip Erasmus

What motivates you to continue taking pictures?

Every photographer has a different reason for picking up their camera and without getting too philosophical, I can say that when I look at my photographs, I want to see a slight reflection of myself. A quote by Aaron Siskin comes to mind when writing this: “Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” For me, it is about the knowledge I have of the subject, the environment and its personality. It is about the willingness to use my craft, time, and energy to express that. It is the desire to capture that decisive moment. I believe that I will never reach the end of this journey…. that I will never arrive at the point where others have nothing to teach me.

Phillip Erasmus

Why do you take photographs? What is YOUR story?

Studying the works of artists and photographers such as Picasso, Monet, Matisse, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Saul Leiter, André Kertész and Edward Steichen has influenced my style, but it was ultimately landscape and urban photography that became my inspiration. I put into practice all of these inspirations and key aspects such as colour, technique, composition and sequence. I prefer creating images of the every day − the magic in the moments that would otherwise go unnoticed.

When capturing images and displaying them to an audience, I believe that one’s personal thoughts, experiences and feelings create a special relationship between the viewer and the image. Picasso understood this dynamic and “The picture,” he once said, “lives only through the man who is looking at it”.

As a visual artist, I have found my niche in the precincts of Maboneng and Newtown where culture is richly fused with commerce and the traditional is juxtaposed with the colourful sights of urban living. These areas lend themselves to architectural, fine art, portrait, landscape and documentary photography and I aim to photograph these areas in such a way that they captivate audiences with depictions of everyday life, showcasing my distinctive style. One gets to learn the rhythm of these urban landscapes − sometimes pulsating, other times like a volcano that oozes tranquillity or erupts unexpectedly. This is the reason I keep going back, again and again. It is all about patiently waiting; anticipating to capture the decisive moment!

Phillip Erasmus

Autumn Light. This was shot with one of the Nikon Z-series cameras and a Minolta 58mm f/1.4 (close to 50-year-old) lens.

Any advice for upcoming photographers?

If I could advise my younger self entering the industry I would say this (and I repeat my statement): Photography is and should be run as a business. It is hard work. Never stop learning. Find your own voice and your own style. Be part of a community and give back as much as you receive. Study different genres, photographers, artists and invest in (clever) marketing. Also, invest time (not necessarily money) in developing your skills and know your gear. But most importantly, always offer exceptional service.

I am very optimistic about the future of my business. Is it going to be hard work? Of course, it is. Nothing worth having is ever easy. We all know the saying, “if it were easy, everyone would do it.” Well, that statement has never been more true.

Professional photography is not dead!

What printing and framing process do you enjoy from Art of Print?

You’ll remember I mentioned at the beginning that I do things with intent? So, part of the planning process is establishing what medium it is that I am shooting for? Social media (Instagram), fine art, or a paid commission? These questions are all necessary for achieving my final goal, and once this is established I can start engaging with Art of Print about the variety of printing and mounting solutions they offer and which one would best be suitable for the particular body of work. Being creatives themselves and having years of practical experience in the industry, they understand the photographer’s needs and offer the best solutions whether be a DiaMount®, canvas or fine art print.