Why I do it

Why I do it

A  brief history of my photography career, the inspirations, people and serendipitous events which afforded me the opportunity to do something I love - take photos, visit amazing places and connect with people.

Once upon a time

I started taking photos when I was in my early teens. Many weekends were spent in a make-shift darkroom, a friend and I boarded up the windows of his bathroom and experimented with emulsions and dodging and burning. Not that we really knew what those terms meant back then. Being self-funded on a teenager's budget, my photography took a back seat as dating came to the fore: often times movies won out over buying and developing a new roll of film. Photography all but faded from my life. I kept in touch with it but the occasions were few and far between, mostly social like parties or birthdays.

Renewed inspiration

In 1994 I started one of the first full-service web development and design companies on South Africa. A few years on we were fortunate enough to count amongst our esteemed clients, a famous wild life photographer named Martin Harvey. My passion and enthusiasm for photography was rekindled. In addition, working along side us was a passionate young man from England with a keen eye for design called Matthew Bowden. He loved all things design and soon after he started working with us, invested in a camera and started taking photos. If Martin inspired me to pick up a camera again, Matthew made it accessible and inspired me to see what was possible through his amazing photos, and approach to photography as a whole.

Opportunity comes knocking

Opportunity came knocking in 2007. Actually it crashed through the door.

I was a full time parent by now, deeply invested in my son's life and schooling career. I was blessed to be able to accompany him on various outings and I took my small pocket camera along. I had no need to take anything else, a fellow parent, Gary Reid was a semi-professional photographer and he shot the main images. He and I struck up a friendship and before long most of our conversation was about photography. Due to an unfortunate incident, he suddenly announced to me he was moving to New Zealand to preserve the safety of his family. I was saddened at the prospect of losing our friendship - distance has a way of diminishing but accepted the adage of "it goes on" and wished him well.

Not long after his announcement, he and I were chatting early one morning at the school. H cajoled me into coming with him to the office to hand over some photos. Introducing me to the marketing manager of the school he casually said: "Hi Mandy, this is Matthew he will be taking over from me when I leave."

The rest, as they say, is history.

There is only now

It’s almost a cliché but when you stop and consider it, there is only now. The tomorrows or yesterdays can only be imagined or remembered. For me, life is a succession of present moments, strung together creating memories billowing back across life - sometimes characterised by great swathes of vibrant colour and emotion; other times more silky and gossamer.

As a parent, nowhere is this more apparent than in the raising of my son. He’s 21 now and when I look back and reflect on the memories and shared experiences, I often wonder where it went. From a gurgling baby boy to a strapping young man on the brink of adulthood, it seems as if time has flown by.

This is when I am grateful to have taken pictures – Little snapshots frozen in time allow me to wonder and reminisce on the joy of his growing up. From stumbling first steps to early birthdays, when the texture of cake in a clenched fist carried more allure than the cake itself; proud and shiny first days of school to jostling on the rugby field with other men-boys. The moments are many!

This is the primary reason why I take photographs – to capture and keep these moments: For sharing and sending to those who are far away; for printing and framing too, but most of all for the opportunity to commemorate the passage of a life well lived.

The painter constructs, the photographer discloses.

—Susan Sontag