And Two To Go
One of the things I absolutely love about traveling – be it here or abroad – is the opportunity to meet new people, talk to them a bit, see what they do.
My 100 Strangers project has afforded me the opportunity to do this 98 times now. Of course, I’ve met more than 98 people in the course of this project, but it’s these 98 that I’ve chosen to record – visually and in text – my connections with these folks.
A couple of Sundays ago, while in Cape Town, we were doing some location scouting. We were in the Greenmarket Square area. This is an outdoor public space filled with vendors selling all kinds of “authentic” African wares.
(I put “authentic” in quotes because, while it’s fun to walk around, I highly doubt anything is original here. It’s a tourist trap, basically. That said, the vendors really put in the time and effort. We went back early in the morning a few days later, and spent the day shooting in and around the square. I watched the vendors pull their carts out of a local warehouse-type place early in the morning. They wheeled them down steep cobblestone streets. Then they spent time putting the metal framing together that make up their little “store”. Then they hung their wares if they were clothes, put out their figurines, bric-a-brac, photos, paintings. At the end of the day, they packed it all up, pushed it UP that cobblestone street and back into the warehouse. Only to do it all over again in about 12 hours. Hard, hard work.)
Anyway, during a break in the scouting, while others were getting a flat white or cappuccino, I wandered a bit.
A particular store caught my eye: Sturk’s Tobacconist. Usually when I travel, I’m not adverse to getting a cigar or two to enjoy while walking around, or outside in the evening. And this place seemed to have so much character, I could not not go in.
Right away, the general atmosphere caught my eye. Not very large, but thoroughly lived in. The smallish gent behind the counter, big glasses on, was helping a customer.
I made my selection and was eying the surroundings up.
“How are you?” I asked the gent when he was done with his customer.
“Ohhhh….” he said. “Can’t complain.”
“Nobody listens, anyway, when you do,” I said. “My Pop used to always say that.”
“That’s true, ” he agreed.
I handed him my selection, and seeing how unique he seemed to be, knew I wanted to do his portrait.
“How long have you been here?” I asked.
“Over two hundred years, ” he said.
Whoa! Now, he was old but not that old.
“Ha, no,” I said. “How long have YOU worked here?”
“Oh, about 17 years,” he said. “I’m Abe.”
“Please to meet you, Abe.” We shoot hands. “I’m Mark, from New Jersey.”
“Mind if I shoot you portrait?” I asked.
“No, go right ahead,” Abe said, taking off his glasses.
I snapped off a few frames, and we chatted some more. I loved the fact that I was able to get him in his environment, the place he seemed so comfortable.
We shook hands, and I dashed off to meet up with my team. Abe became Number 97 in my 100 Strangers project.
A few days later, and other interesting encounter. This time in False Bay, on the side of the road.
As jobs go…this one is quite interesting. Coming back from a shoot in Fish Hoek, we pulled over to talk to this young guy, Navaron.
Navaron’s office has a good view. He overlooks the Muizenberg Beach.
It’s a small weatherproofed hut of nylon sides and plastic windows with a wide-open front that sits on side of the highway. A mountain is behind him, the Atlantic Ocean is in front of him. No computer, no paper shuffling for this man.
He doesn’t sit behind a desk, though. He sits behind polarized sunglasses and powerful binoculars that scan the clear blue-green waters below.
He’s not looking for babes in bikinis, he’s looking for large swimming masses in the water.
Navaron is a shark spotter.
I asked him how does one become a shark spotter. Do you just answer an ad?
“Yeah, pretty much,” he said. “About a year ago, I needed a job. My girlfriend saw a listing for this so I applied. It’s great.”
Ever see any sharks?
“Yeah, sometimes.” he said. Then he detailed what the the course of action is. Seeing the shark, radioing down to the beach where they adjust the shark flags.
(An aside: A day after a I shot this, a shark was spotted by someone in this hut – maybe Navaron. They cleared the waters at Muizenberg of people, for about and hour. Once the all clear came, people were able to go back in.)
Navaron even let me try out his binoculars. I didn’t see any sharks.
I didn’t want to bother him too much but he let me snap a couple of portraits, with his view in the background.
He’s number 98 in my 100 Strangers project. (Full slideshow here.)
Then it was back to work for him, and back in the van for me.
So, two to go. Actually, it should be one. On my last day at the hotel, I got up early to watch and shoot the sunrise.
Someone had beaten me to the spot. This was was sitting on the cement wall out by our hotel, shooting video with one device and stills with this Fuji X100s.
After a while, we both got the shots we wanted. I commented to him how much patience photography takes (we had both been out there for over 40 minutes watching the sun make it’s way up.)
Then we walked about this camera, my camera. Eventually, we got around to where we were from.
I had a good idea about where he was from, though, seeing the PHL airport sticker on his gym back.
“I’m from Philly,” he said.
“Cool,” I said. “I lived in South Philly for 10 years at one point.” We exchange street addresses and both knew the others ‘hoods.
Turned out, we were both in Cape Town business.
Me, with my corporate job. Him…as part of Eminem’s road crew on his current Rapture tour.
The Slim Shady, a hip hop legend, had just played Cape Town Stadium the night before. Part of my team went, though I declined. Didn’t feel like losing myself in the moment my last full night in Cape Town.
But I give Kintata high credit. The day after a show, the gent was out there at 6 a.m. shooting still and video for his kids back in Philly. Not sure how many of the other guys from the crew were stirring at that early hour.
I didn’t shoot his portrait, though I’m sure he would have let me had I asked.
We were just to photographers, waiting for the sun to come up.
And enjoying meeting new people.
© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2014