I stood in my bedroom on the 2nd floor tower over looking the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean jousting with the rigid red rocks of South Africa’s shores. For sometime there was no noise in the solar powered accommodations I found myself in on location for a shoot. It was just me there, watching the waves out the window. I like to find myself alone in far of places. I like to be reminded in a world with 7 billion people you can hide… and up there for a moment in time I hide in a place called Lindsay Castle.
Practical information: Lindsay Castle is a historic home built in the 20th century as a petite castle with six bedrooms you can rent for your own vacation on a private strip of beach within the Noetzie Nature Reserve. It’s remote and quiet, the beaches are pristine and the fireplaces make for cozy nights. They have an outdoor BBQ and dining area as well. To be noted however, it is a very steep climb up and down from the parking area so not suitable for people traveling with heavy luggage or physical restraints.
I headed down to South Africa to shoot this campaign, a collaboration between Banana Republic and Piece & Co., and to capture the artisans behind the sun dyed fabrics that make up the summer collection. We started early in the morning when the dew was still resting on the flowers. The women arrived and lead us to their farm (I guess you’d call it a farm?) which I discovered was just a wild space down a dirt road tucked between vineyards where they keep supplies in an old barn. The artisans ascended, plucking flowers and leaves, picking up things I’d never even seen before, finding lilies in the pond and savoring their scent. These are the native objects they use to create the patterns on the fabrics which are sun dyed right here on this piece of earth.
They were proud and happy. The land was beautiful and loved. I like to think all this energy and joy is transferred into fabrics that now are cut into beautiful dresses and men’s shirts and one can feel this when they put it on. At least I hope these photographs can help share their story and shed light on conscience fashion.
Final portraits of the artisans are shot on back and white film in the barn they work at using a spool of burlap we found lying around as a backdrop. Color portrait of the American woman is Piece & Co.’s founder Kathleen Wright.
You guys know that I am a photographer, professionally. Sometimes I think I am put in a blogger or influencer category which is fine because I love to share my passions on social media and have now for years. It has helped me grow as an artist and thinker, pushed myself creatively and brought many wonderful friends and opportunities into my life. However, at the end of the day I make my living making photographs for companies and brands. Sometimes I share my work and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I not even legally allowed to because the company owns the images and rights straight from my camera. Sometimes the shoots are really creative and fun and inspiring and sometimes I feel as if I’m just a body there to push the trigger of a camera.
This is one of those photography jobs I took that I feel so honored to be a part of. Banana Republic did a really cool thing. They partnered with a globally conscience textile manufacturer called Piece & Co whose main objective was to give opportunities to women in developing worlds while celebrating and even saving artisanal practices. The fabrics created by Piece & Co in partnership with these co-ops around the world are environmentally sustainable and empowering woman as small business owners and even in some cases, the bread winner for their families. When Banana Republic learned about the socially conscience initiative of Piece & Co. they wanted to partner to create a unique limited collection of artisan fabrics. So, off to South Africa we went to photograph the stunning artisans doing their handmade sun dying process that make up the fabrics in the collection, I’ll share those photographs on another post later this week, and to shoot the Banana Republic campaign for the collection on two local South African models.
I loved this shoot. The spirit of the South African people is as beautiful as the landscape. The pride of the artisans showing their process and joy they had seeing the fabric come to life in fashion on our models. I love these photographs because for me they represent a circle, a connection we all have. The hands that create on to the souls that carry them on.
Very special thank you to my dear friend and collaborator Kelly for bringing on board with this project and to Piece & Co., truly Kathleen (founder of Piece & Co.) and Liza (director of Piece & Co.) you two are the most intelligent, talented, impressive women I’ve ever worked with. Thank you Banana Republic for trusting me as your photographer.
Modeled by Carla Peters + Samuel Mukhuwana // Creative Direction by Kizmet. World // Styling by Kelly Framel // Hair & Makeup by Tina Hoffmann // Production by Liza Voloshin
This entire collection is available on Banana Republic where you can see and learn more behind the collection.
The people of South Africa stand as the example of everything good about humanity. They believe in peace and sharing and harmony. I like to think their souls are beautiful because they are a part of a true circle of life here. They understand their place among the animals, in the grass, with the trees, all while walking with their ancestors.
Our evening drives were the perfect decrescendo to the day. As the golden hour set and the Southern Cross smiled down from the heavens, we sipped our cocktails over the endless horizon and said good night to all the creatures we had shared in the moment with. I try to go back to this place in my memory when I lay in bed awake early in the morning. I try to remember the colors of the sky, the whites of the horns, the sounds of nature and vastness of view. I try to remember that all that is good is all that ever was.
As we boarded the plane to leave, I was planning how to come back. The great migration, Tanzania, Kenya, gorillas in the mist… I think I have begun a lifelong love affair for all that is Africa. These photographs are all that remain of our fading memories now. As the years press on and we set out to new lands, new experiences, I hope this place stays just the way it was so that future generations can experience what we have and know this love now in our hearts.
Continue reading “Safari Nights”
I will never forget hearing the first roar from a lion. My entire body filled with adrenaline, fear, anxiety, total alertness. It is a sound that cuts straight to the center of your chest, an emotional reaction that feels today the same way it must have felt to humans thousands of years ago. We would cruise around, tracking paw prints in the sand. It was always breathtaking when we found our animal, it was always the most beautiful thing.
There were these wonderfully quiet moments where we would just sit in silence among the wild and all the world felt in perfect harmony. In contrast we had other times where we were speeding through the African tundra, chasing a lioness on the run, our hearts racing! “Tattle tail” birds would scream warnings of the predator on the move while giraffe, zebras, and impalas ran for their lives. Fear and adrenaline pump through your blood, a high we felt for hours. Being in the presence of something much stronger and more powerful than you, understanding and observing the circle of life, how it is such a beautiful balance, makes you respect and appreciate the world just as it is when it just IS.
We were so fortunate to stay at this beautiful resort but even if you were anywhere else, it doesn’t change the way the sunrise looks in the misty morning, the quiet way elephants migrate past you or the feeling in your soul when a lion looks you right in the eye…
Continue reading “Safari Afternoons”
Deep in the wilds of Africa we found our honeymoon chalet. Built over the riverine bush we would lie in bed at night and listen to the animal cries, feeling so small and so human in this world of other kings. When the sun was high on those lazy afternoons we’d hide out on the porch watching elephants herd by while we wrote in journals, sketched in notebooks, and read our novels. The romance of the mosquito net like a wedding veil fills my memory of this space in a soft glow of white light. Showers outside on the porch under monkeys swinging by and an endless view of the African vista felt so free and so naturally beautiful. Nights in long baths with old jazz playing its heartfelt tune take me back to this dreamy place, this homey place so rich in comfort so far from home.
Continue reading “Safari Dreams”
Before the sun rises every morning, we were awakened by a knock on the door where we rose for a light breakfast of oatmeal (with scotch if you prefer), the sun slowly waking up on the earth. We loaded up into our safari vehicles with hot water bottles, plaid wool blankets and, if you’re me, three cameras. It’s so quiet in the mornings, so peaceful. And the light. THE LIGHT. It’s the most beautiful light in the world. I dream of waking up every morning in this light. We sat quietly and watched elephants wander by (did you know their steps do not make a sound?), we looked at the mist dancing on the pond, we counted stripes on a zebra (did you know they stand overlapping in a group so their patterns confuse predators?), we tracked down lions and cubs, searched for cheetahs and followed wild dogs (which are actually rare!). One of the mornings we had a beautiful breakfast in the bush but mostly I just enjoyed the peacefulness of the mornings. Because later in the day…. it’s a whole different beast.
Continue reading “Safari Mornings”
I didn’t know what to expect when we set out for South Africa. To be honest, I was quite nervous and very skeptical of the romantic aspect that had been advertised; this was our honeymoon after all. I’ve never been that far from home and although I had been to northern Africa and the Middle East, this was a whole new world… the animal kingdom. My most recent experience with animals had been a trip to the Natural History Museum and zoos growing up. I didn’t realize how much I was missing when I let this be my only relationship to wildlife. What I had yet to learn was that safari and ultimately Africa would change my life.
The conversation about safari started a few months before our wedding. We didn’t know where to go and on one fateful night over dinner with friends, I asked what their best trips had been. One couple answered with all their passion and excitement “SAFARI“. I wanted to do something extraordinary, I wanted to go someplace far so that when we tell our kids, they will be inspired to discover the world too. We flew into Johannesburg and connected onto what was at the time the smallest plane I had ever experienced (until this harrowing flight), landing on a tiny strip in the middle of the African bush at Londolozi Game Reserve. I was more nervous than excited (you might be too after the three shots and two medications you have to have before arriving) until I walked into the lodge, was handed a glass of champagne and looked out at the view in awe. I couldn’t guess what the next day, our first drive into the wild, would hold, but I knew at that moment I was living in a dream…
Continue reading “A Great Adventure”