olive and oak

elize strydom's photo journal

Tag: leica m6

this is south africa – part two

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In the heat of the day the dusty streets of Jouberton are deserted but once the sun starts to sink they fill with families, men on their way home from work, quarreling kids, grandmas in green and the occasional chicken. Cooking ingredients are exchanged and meal offers are made but no one goes home until well after dark. There’s nowhere else to be and it’s clear that nothing’s more important than sitting by the side of the road chatting with your neighbour while your children play nearby.

18 year old Mpho lives with her grandmother, mother, little brother, aunties and cousins plus two month old Lethabo in a three bedroom home. “Family and friends come to stay all the time,” she says. “It’s hard to get a bath around here – unless you’re Lethabo.”

She completed her matric (year 12 exams) last year at a boarding school a few hours away but has now moved home again. She plans to go to college next year and wants to be a nurse. We spend the days walking around her neighbourhood (“Everyone is staring at you,” she said. “But don’t worry, I’ll be your bodyguard.”) and hanging out with her best friend, Lebogang, singing along to songs on the music channel and sitting by the side of the road eating ice blocks to stay cool. Lebogang and Mpho grew up together in Jouberton. He’ll finish high school at the end of the year and then plans to move to Cape Town to study law. They both love music and have incredible singing voices. “Do you like Sia? What about Ellie Goulding? And London Grammar? Yes? Ahhh we’re the same!” said an excited Mpho.

As soon as school finishes, Mpho goes from house to house, visiting her friends. They sit outside listening to music on their phones, eating peaches and pomegranates from the trees or chips and ice blocks bought for less that 10 cents from one of the many ‘tuck shops’. One day I offered Mpho some of my dried fruit/nut/seed mix. She wasn’t keen. “Ew, no thanks!” Later she offered me some of her chicken feet (aka ‘runaways’). You can probably guess my response.

Mpho always wears a hat and long pants or sleeves – even on 40 degree c days like today – because she says she doesn’t want her skin to get any darker. “I’m black on the outside but white on the inside,” she told me.

Photographing Mpho was just one of those wonderful, unexpected encounters that ended up being better than anything I could have imagined or planned. Being the only white person in the community felt uncomfortable and strange but I think it was important to experience that.  At times it was confronting and challenging but for the most part it was just plain fun. Mpho and I really connected and she felt like a real friend.

All photos shot with a Leica M6 and Kodak Portra film. Developed and scanned at Richard Photo Lab.

this is south africa – part one

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I’d been to South Africa twice before but had only visited major cities and tourist-y spots. Shooting Small Town Girl there earlier this year meant I was able to get off the beaten track and meet real people and get a taste of their day to day lives. I feel like my assumptions of South Africa were constantly being challenged/smashed and for that I am extremely grateful. In Nieu-Bethesda I photographed Rebecca and stayed with her family and didn’t want to leave. The landscape reminded me of something in between Broken Hill, Australia and Palm Springs, USA and I had to keep reminding myself where I was. The village proper has a population of approximately 100 people (and no paved roads…but a charming network of water furrows). With the surrounding farms and black/coloured township that number is closer to 1500. It’s situated in the Great Karoo, a vast semi-desert region, and is scorching in summer and snowy in winter. Much like Broken Hill, there are little galleries and studios all over town and ever second person you meet is a painter or jeweler or ceramicist. While Rebecca was at school I cruised around Nieu-Bethesda on a bike, taking photos of this and that, and hung out at this place which was part beer brewery, part coffee roastery and part cheese factory. So, in other words, heaven (aka The Brewery). I met two US backpackers there and we went on a canyon hike then caught a ride back to town on the roof of a local’s old Landrover. I drank Rooibos tea with Rebecca’s beautiful mum Bronwen and we connected over similar life choices and upbringings and outlooks. On Friday night a South African musician named Guy Buttery performed and afterwards I found myself sitting around a campfire with a group of locals and a few other travelers , sharing stories and smokes. I rode my bike home through the black night aware of my place below the massive mountains. The next few days at Rebecca’s place consisted of rustic meals around the family table, a trip through the Owl House, swims and a picnic lunch in a gorge. I wanted to wrap myself up in the warmth of this little family forever. I felt so nourished after a week with them in such a spectacular, peculiar hidden gem of a small town.

These shots were taken on my Leica M6 and Canon 1V and developed/scanned at Richard Photo Lab.

 

 


twenty twenty

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I carry my camera around everywhere and some days I take 10 photos while other days I take zero. It means I end up with quite a mixed bag of shots, some of which I totally forget about until I get the scans back. And so I present to you 20 photos from the last little while…

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1. An engagement party at the Grounds of Alexandria 2-6. Do you know Ngaio? You need to know Ngaio. We spent an afternoon together at her place 7-12. With my nieces and my brother in Coffs Harbour a few days after I got back from South Africa 13-15. Maddy + Jake, Christina and Faith + Yudi at their Parkes wedding in early May 16. Brendan just before he moved to Melbourne 17. My best girl, Ali, at Mecca the morning after my exhibition opened 18. Monstera around the pool at my new digs 19. Chloe and Lee trekked out to Vaucluse to visit me and have brunch at The Trail 20. A girl on the train in the morning sun.

I took some of these shots with my Canon 1V and some with my Leica M6 which is now broken, oh so very broken. Kodak Portra 35mm film. Developed and scanned at Richard Photo Lab.

sundowner

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I told you I’d be back soon! Yeah, I know, more pics from summer (I took a whole lot – it was a good one) but it’s a sunny 22 degrees C in Sydney (what winter?) so I was reminded of this glorious Cronulla afternoon with Rachel, Chloe, Lee, Sophie and Maddy.

old news

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An old picture taken in my old room late last year (the old days). This room, this time, feels like forever ago. Since moving out of that house I’ve slept in 18 (count ‘em!) different beds and am now settled in just one. Well, more like two.

In 2014 I made a concerted effort to get back into books. Reading is something that brings me great joy and fulfilment but somehow I’d let it slip away. I read 20 books and these are some of them. I was hoping to get through 40 this year but I’m off to a terrible start. I’m part-way through Spinster – Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick, Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon, Cry of the Kalahari by Mark & Delia Owens and Phenomenal by Leigh Ann Henion.

There are many, many photos I’d like to post and stories I’d like to share but this is it for now. I’ll be back soon, promise.

summer type stuff – part two

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And just like that, I’m back! South Africa was fascinating and wild. The small town girls I met and photographed have such a special place in my heart and will never be forgotten. There’s so much more to say about the journey but for now, let’s go back to before. All photos shot with a Leica M6 and Kodak Portra film. Developed/scanned at Richard Photo Lab.

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room for rent

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Sadly, I have to say goodbye to dear Rachel and the little blue house. I’m going to South Africa at the beginning of February and I’ll be there a few months so it’s just not practical to keep my room in Newtown. If you or someone you know is looking for somewhere to live (a renovated terrace house on Wilson street, across the road from Carriageworks/Eveleigh Markets, super close to Sydney Uni and Redfern Station and the city, perhaps?!) and you’re happy to share with a creative, passionate young school teacher/writer and pay $300 a week plus bills then please do get in touch: elizestrydom(at)live.com.au

summer type stuff – part one

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Mornings at the beach with Meg and Amelia // Strolls around the Eveleigh markets // Cups of tea with chocolate covered scotch finger biscuits on Ange’s new balcony // Summer, you can stay.

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Lee is one of my best friends and she sure helped make 2014 a sweet year. Oh and can we take a minute to appreciate that darn CUTE Gorman playsuit? Shot in Surry Hills with a Leica M6 – developed/scanned at Richard Photo Lab.

you will take the east side and i will take the west

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A month or so ago I hopped on a train and travelled south to a tiny beach town called Gerroa. To be precise, I got off the train at Gerringong and after refusing a lift from a guy driving by, walked into town, had a coffee, then headed four or so kays down the coast to Gerroa, the road and ocean on my left, rolling green hills on my right. I swatted flies and sang songs I knew all the words to. I stayed in a cabin at the caravan park and thought about what would happen if I never left. The city had been grating on me and I needed: some quiet, a horizon, birdsong. I did not need: construction noise, mobile phone reception, conversation. I wanted to devote a little time to figuring out who I am when I’m alone. I’m a different person depending on who I’m with (v. exhausting) but who am I when nobody else is around? (Still workin’ on that one.) The night I got back to Sydney I had dinner at my friend Matt’s place which is right in the middle of the city. I was reluctant to leave the silent and spacious bubble I’d been in for the previous two days but once I quit resisting, I realised that an evening of meaningful conversation and nourishing food was certainly welcome.

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^^ An accidental double exposure…not sure how that happened? Still getting the hang of my Leica.  All photos developed/scanned at Richard Photo Lab.