“I love discovering. Nothing too far away, nothing too foreign – merely something new in something familiar. Showing people something they’ve never seen in the way that I have. Sharing a moment with someone and seeing them react as if you’ve just pulled a rabbit from a hat – and all you did was observe the same reality.”

Hein Kotze Carpenter

The wood carver
With wind as mallet and sand as chisel, Mother Nature shapes and carves sculptures fit for thrones. In a gallery barely visited, she displays her marvels for eyes willing to wander far past the kingdom walls.

What is your favourite genre to shoot?

I’ve fallen in love with both the adventure and technical challenges of landscape photography after having moved down to one of the most scenic areas in South Africa. Being inspired by my immediate environment made me pick up my camera with new determination.

How do you go from conceptualising to action (photographing the subject) to result?

Planning, a whole lot of planning. I will often go to a location multiple times to study the light behaviour, time of day, tides and more. Even the most beautiful scene looks dull in the wrong conditions (on camera at least) so it’s crucial to catch Mother Nature on a good hair day.

Hein Kotze Boknes Waves

The conductor
Rising cliffs are her podium and waves her ensemble. Maintaining a flawless rhythm, she shapes and assembles a score like no other. Through the recurring motif true beauty lies in the subtle contrast, the gradual growth. With a grand crescendo, the curtain falls as yet another masterpiece rises from its final bow.

Are there any photographers you adore and draw inspiration from?

Regarding landscape photography, each one of the following photographers has a different and unique approach to their images and it’s always amazing seeing nature through their lens.

Thomas Heaton has a natural serenity to the way he views scenes and captures visuals. Most people would walk right past.

Michael Shainblum has a dynamic visual signature that absolutely pops out of the screen whenever you see any of his shots.

Nick Page is my go-to source for anything practical. He doesn’t fool around with trendy products and fashionable techniques. He just gets things done and delivers amazing images in the process.

Many local photographers have also been massively inspiring. Growing up in an era of local bands popping up, skateboarding and alternative lifestyles; photography played a massive role in representing everything that was happening.

I’ll never forget the Liam Lynch pics in the Skyn(Heilig) music video, the technical brilliance of the skateboarding photography from Ben Bergh and more recently how André Badenhorst can manipulate light like a magician. Skillie from Kikitography is also an amazing storyteller through the moments he captures so intimately.

Being able to learn photography from and with one of your closest friends is also something that accelerates your skill like no other. Werner Lamprecht was always my most legit critique and source of learning when I first dived into a “manual-mode” on some first-gen digital point-and-shoot, and to this day we discover new gems when we meet up.

What kind of post-production do you do on your photographs and what tools do you use to get to your result?

Each image is so vastly unique that they each deserve a very bespoke touch in extracting the maximum amount of visual interest; to tell the story I have in mind when capturing the image.

I use a combination of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to achieve the desired results, depending on what level of detail is required.

Hein Kotze Kenton Pools

The impressionist
Revealing a transient moment of colour-bathed landscape, she casts her hues in a fantastical fashion. Illuminating imagination, as mermaids splash under their golden throne.

Is there a specific message you want to convey with your photographs, and how do you get that message across?

There is so much beauty we hardly ever notice. We’re programmed to see what is familiar or look at something from a fixed perspective. The moment we stand still and absorb our surroundings is the moment we start to experience the small details and nuances all around us.

With my collection HER Artists, I also support the images with a small narrative, leading the viewer into the story I saw unfold as the image was captured; attempting to engage with the viewer not only visually but also through their imagination.

For some inspiration for our upcoming photographers, how did you get from being an aspiring photographer to doing it as a full-time career?

Hard work, little sleep, then some more hard work. Determination and commitment to calculated risk are the only things that truly elevate you as a creative (in most genres).

Being the “best” creative or artist is mostly subjective; being the hardest working, the most committed and dedicated is something undeniable. Your peers and those you work for/with will see this. Even the greatest talent in the world is useless if they don’t show up. Also, as most investment managers would advise; “diversify…don’t keep your eggs in one basket.”

The world is moving super fast and it is now more important than ever to expand your skillset every single day. The more you know, the more you have to offer.

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

Everyone has a different path with a different set of goals and objectives. For me, however, it’s always been about BALANCE. Trying to “make it” as a creative puts you in a constant struggle between being an artist and being an entrepreneur. Finding a balance in which these two versions of yourself can coexist is the key. It’s something you are faced with all the time and something you learn to identify on every shoot and every client engagement. It’s not easy but then again, neither is that law degree you could’ve gone and studied.

Hein Kotze Frames 1
Hein Kotze Frames 2

HER Artists
An intimate observation and introduction to the various artists, commissioned by Mother Nature herself, who shape the coastal environments in and around the Kenton-on-Sea region in South Africa.

What gear can you not be without?

My ThinkTank Urban Access 15 backpack. It’s the thing I put all my things in and functions as an entire studio on my back.

What paper(s) do you prefer to print on and why?

Anything Tammy Marshall from Art of Print suggests – she’s a genius.

(You can get in touch with Tammy by mailing her at print@outdoorphoto.co.za)

What framing do you feel finished your work and why?

Diamount®! Peeling that protective film off for the first time is better than any Christmas present I’ve ever opened as a kid. Seeing your image illuminate out from that panel is something very special indeed.

To see more work by Hein Kotzé, have a look at his website or his Instagram and Facebook.