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Man flyfishing in Stanford Lake

Magoebaskloof: 13 Pictures of a Beautiful, Misty Morning

Magoebaskloof, a mountainous region in South Africa’s Limpopo Province between Polokwane and Tzaneen, is referred to on its tourism website as “the Land of the Silver Mist”. It didn’t take me long to figure out why. Fly-fishing at sunrise on Magoebaskloof’s misty Stanford Lake. I arrived in Magoebaskloof on Friday afternoon with a bunch of Instagrammers, on a mission to visit as many interesting places as possible in less than 48 hours. On our first morning we rose at the crack of dawn (actually before the crack) and walked down to Stanford Lake, where a magical, misty dreamworld unfolded before us. Reflections and lily pads on the glassy lake, just before sunrise. I’ve got hundreds of Magoebaskloof photos, and I’m actually still here (I decided 48 hours wasn’t enough) and accumulating more and more. But for now I’m just posting my favorite pictures from that first morning. Morning Mist in Magoebaskloof Fly-fishing is the most beautiful thing in the world to photograph on a misty morning. Who knew? A teenage boy fly-fishing.  I don’t think he caught any fish. But really, who cares? Mist, reflections, and a hint of sun. More fly-fishing. I’m glad I wasn’t the one in that freezing water. But it […]

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View of the Joburg skyline from the roof of Bjala Square in Jeppestown.

A Rainy Instameet in Jeppestown

On Saturday I helped organize an Instameet at a building called Bjala Square in Jeppestown, one of the most historic sections of downtown Johannesburg. It was cold and pouring rain — a rare occurrence in early winter — and I wondered if we should even go through with the Instameet. I’m glad we did. I’d been wanting to do a photo walk through Jeppestown for a while because I think it’s one of the most interesting parts of town. The neighborhood is 120 years old (ancient by Joburg standards) and has lots of historic buildings, but in recent decades Jeppestown has suffered severe neglect and decay. Most of the people who live in Jeppestown today are surviving on very little, often living in abandoned or illegally occupied buildings. A photo I took on Marshall Street in Jeppestown in 2012. This building is painted to look like a historic photograph shot on the same street in 1896. I had hoped to walk down this street on Saturday but the weather didn’t cooperate. The urban decay in Jeppestown has made the area a popular painting spot for graffiti artists. Thanks in large part to the annual City of Gold Urban Art Festival, which has been concentrated in and […]

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Six Underrated Joburg Instagrammers to Follow in 2016

When I joined Instagram, the first thing I did (after posting a really bad picture of my cat) was type “#Joburg” into the search bar and see what came up. I love the fact that Instagram has connected me to so many great Johannesburg-based photographers and although I follow people from all over the world, the Joburg accounts are my favorites. I was going through my “Following” list recently and realized that the Joburg accounts I like best aren’t necessarily those that you see in the usual “Top 10 Instagrammer…” articles that make the rounds on the Interwebs. I particularly love Instagram’s Joburg storytellers — photographers who really focus on Joburg and tell the city’s story from a specific angle or with a certain style. Accounts like this tend to be underrated, in my opinion, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorites here, in no particular order: @ihsaan_haffo Ihsaan Haffejee is a Joburg-based photojournalist. He covers all kinds of interesting news but his feed has a particular focus on Joburg’s Muslim communities. Ihsaan posts a nice mix of both iPhone and DSLR shots. @dayphotolife @dayphotolife, whose real name is Dudu Maphumula, lives in Hillbrow and shoots most of his pictures there. […]

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A Year of Making Space

My friend Dee, who blogs at The Good Holiday, contacted me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I wanted to work with her on a #365Days project in 2016. I traveled with Dee during my recent trip to Reunion Island. She is a warm, passionate, hilarious person and she loves teaming up with other bloggers on projects like this. Dee on a mountain in Reunion Island. So of course I couldn’t say no to her. But I’m not gonna lie: I was nervous. If you’re a regular on Instagram then you probably know what a #365Days project is. If not, let me explain. A #365Days project is basically a commitment to post an Instagram every single day, for an entire year, using one specific hashtag. I’ve seen people do 365 days of portraits, 365 days of jumpstagrams, 365 days of long-exposure shots, etc. I’ve never tried to do a #365Days project before but I did participate in a “100 Happy Days” project once, in which I posted a photo of something that made me happy every day for 100 consecutive days. It was freaking hard. I don’t like to post bad pictures on Instagram and sometimes it’s hard to come […]

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Ode to Instagram

Dear Instagram, Yesterday I reached 50,000 followers on your app. I don’t want to focus too much on that number because what do social media numbers really mean, anyway? My large Instagram following has something to do with my photography, sure. But it also has a lot to do with luck and being in the right place at the right time. There are lots of great photographers with far fewer followers and lots of crappy photographers with more. (Nonetheless, reaching 50,000 Instagram followers is pretty flipping cool. If I told you I wasn’t over-the-moon excited about it, I would be lying.) But even before this 50k thing happened, I’ve been thinking lately about how much I love you. I’ve loved you ever since I uploaded that first fuzzy picture of my cat, shot with my iPad, more than three years and 1900 posts ago. I Facebook as much as the next person, and I tweet because I have to. But you, Instagram, you I truly love. I wake up every morning excited to see you. You introduced me to many of my closest friends. You improve my photography. You encourage me to explore. You’re always evolving, working to suit my needs better. You […]

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Instawalking Through Alex (With a DSLR)

On Sunday I helped organize an Instawalk through Alexandra Township, sponsored by the South African Cities Network and Mobile Media Mob. I’ve been to Alex many times and I’ve gone on Instawalks many times, but this was my first time going on an Instawalk in Alex. In fact I’m pretty sure this was the first organized Alex Instawalk, ever. About 20 or 25 people showed up for the walk. Despite being Joburg’s oldest township and one of the most historic parts of the city, the vast majority of Joburgers have never been to Alex, mainly due to fear. But I’ve always found Alex to be one of the most interesting neighborhoods in Joburg and one of the best places to take photos. I’m really happy that we had such a great turnout, especially because it was the first visit to Alex for most of the participants. The theoretical purpose of an Instawalk is to walk around an area, take photos with your phone, and then post them to Instagram. But I actually didn’t take many photos on this walk. First, I was semi-responsible for the group and it was challenging to keep track of everyone in the Alex traffic. Second, I haven’t been feeling […]

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Around Zimbabwe in 14 Days: Snaps From the Road

I’m in Zimbabwe, halfway through a two-week photography and writing assignment for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF). I’m traveling all over the country — from the capital city of Harare to some of the country’s most remote rural villages and back again — documenting success stories in pediatric HIV and AIDS prevention. The photos and stories that I’m compiling will eventually be published in a book. I can’t show you the actual pictures that I’m taking for EGPAF. But I’m sneaking this one in because it’s one of my favorites. I’ve forgotten this three-year-old girl’s name — I’ve met too many people this week. Her mother is Brenda, a community health worker I interviewed in Dete Village in Mashonaland West province. There is nothing I enjoy more than traveling to remote, beautiful places in interesting parts of the world, talking to interesting people and taking their photos. And there is no better place to do this than Zimbabwe. I hate to sound cliché but this week I have been struck again and again by how kind, open, intelligent, and welcoming people are in this country. I can’t believe how lucky I am to be here doing this work. I’m exhausted though, and I still have another […]

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Having Fun in Knysna: My Top Five Picks

Knysna (pronounced NIZE-nuh) is a small resort town in South Africa’s Western Cape, on the picturesque section of coastline between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth called the Garden Route. I visited Knysna for the first time last week to attend the annual Knysna Oyster Festival. My favorite Instagram from the trip: A man named Garrit who I met on the Knysna Lagoon. I stayed in Knysna for five days and thanks to my hosts I squeezed many exciting activities into that short period. I’ll eventually write longer posts about a couple of the experiences that excited me the most. For now, here’s a quick rundown of my top five recommendations for fun things to do in Knysna. 1) Eat Oysters I was in Knysna for the Oyster Festival so eating oysters was an obvious thing to do. But there is a huge oyster culture here and I recommend trying some no matter when you come. Not only are the oysters delicious, but eating them gives you a great excuse to drink champagne. My first oysters of the week from Quay Four on Thesen Island. I really enjoyed the relaxed vibe at this restaurant. In my opinion the best way to enjoy an oyster is with several drops […]

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An Empty Stadium, Filled With Instagram

Last weekend Instagram hosted a “Worldwide Instameet” — a global event in which groups around the world get together in their own cities, take photos, then share them on Instagram. The Joburg edition of the Worldwide Instameet took place last Sunday at FNB Stadium, otherwise known as Soccer City. Announcement for the Joburg Worldwide Instameet. I must confess that I wasn’t as excited as I should have been about this Instameet. I was utterly exhausted on Sunday, having just returned from two weeks of travel around South Africa and Lesotho. Plus I wasn’t sure about the venue. FNB Stadium is the most beautiful athletic stadium in South Africa — possibly one of the most beautiful in the world. It’s an inspiring piece of architecture. But an empty stadium seemed like a lifeless place for an Instameet to me. But I dragged myself there, because I had promised my friend Gareth (founder of @igerssouthafrica) that I would. Gareth is one of Joburg’s most talented filmmakers; he was shooting a video about the Instameet and asked me to be part of it. I feel a special big-sisterly affection for Gareth and couldn’t let him down. (Plus I am vain and wanted to be in the […]

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Around South Africa in 10 Instagrams

I really got around South Africa last week. I participated in #MeetSouthAfrica, a campaign sponsored by South African Tourism in which 14 travel bloggers split into three groups — the Luxury group, the Adventure group, and the Heritage group — and followed different routes around the country. I was in the Adventure group with Meruschka from Mzansi Girl, Melvin from Traveldudes, Matt from the Expert Vagabond, Caspar from StoryTravelers, and Kash from the Budget Traveller. We covered a massive swath of the country in a very short time and had an insane amount of fun. A rudimentary map showing the #MeetSouthAfrica Adventure group’s journey. I wish I had time to figure out how to make this look better (how do I get rid of that annoying box?!) but at least you can see the route. We traveled in a counter-clockwise rectangle — from Joburg, to the Northern Cape, to Cape Town, to Durban — by land and air. Here’s one of the high points (literally) of the trip, on a cliff overlooking the Orange River at sunset. Left to right: Matt (who fortunately did not sail over the cliff after this jump), Meruschka, me, Caspar, Kash, and Melvin. (Photo: Bontle Madiba) I have many stories to tell about #MeetSouthAfrica but I’m short on time. I returned to Joburg last night and I […]

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I’m Meeting South Africa

I’m on Day 6 of my 10-day #MeetSouthAfrica trip. I intended to post on a regular basis during the journey but lack of time and wifi have prevented that. We’ve done so much. In the last three days alone I have crossed South Africa by bus from one end to the other (twice), learned to paddle a raft, made some awesome new friends, cooked my own gourmet meal in Cape Town, gone deaf in one ear (don’t worry Mom and Dad, I’m sure it’s temporary), and swam — yes swam — across an international border (twice). I want to wait until I have time to do proper justice to these experiences before writing about them in depth. But in the meantime I thought I’d post this one photo. It epitomizes my experience so far. It was shot in a tiny town called Pofadder in the Northern Cape, in the Kalahari Desert, between Upington and Springbok. Photo: Meruschka Govender #MeetSouthAfrica, baby. #MeetSouthAfrica.

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Hi, South Africa. Nice to Meet You.

I’ve been writing a lot about hashtags lately, which is a little embarrassing. Hashtags are so trendy. But sorry, I can’t help it. Once you’ve read this post you’ll understand my newfound hashtag passion. South African Tourism has a social media campaign called #MeetSouthAfrica that promotes South Africa as a travel destination, and they’ve invited 14 travel bloggers — nine international bloggers and five local bloggers — to explore the country for ten days. The journey starts in Joburg tomorrow and finishes in Durban next weekend at South Africa’s Tourism Indaba (a huge travel convention). Throughout the trip, the bloggers will share their experiences through social media using the #MeetSouthAfrica hashtag. #MeetSouthAfrica: Omphi on a bridge in Soweto. (I’ve populated this post with some of my favorite Instagrams from the past few weeks.) A few weeks ago I learned that I was one of the local bloggers selected to participate in the #MeetSouthAfrica campaign. I was stunned. Actually I was overjoyed. I’ve been trying to play it cool but the truth is I am more excited about this than I’ve been about anything in a long time. (Read more about the #MeetSouthAfrica trip here.) Let me back up and try to explain why. A bit more than two years ago in January […]

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