I had a photo exhibition last night, at the IT Corner in Melville. It was really cool.

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My pictures.

The exhibition was called “A Blogger's Exploration of Maboneng and Jeppestown”. Here's the story behind it; I'm cheating by copy-pasting the same summary that I posted with the pictures in the exhibition.

In February 2012, I began attending early-morning boxing classes on the roof of the 12 Decades Hotel in the Maboneng Precinct. Our training sessions include a 10-minute run through Maboneng and the surrounding streets of Jeppestown.

When we turn the corner from Fox Street onto Macintyre Street during our morning run, the atmosphere changes. Fox is quiet and hardly awake at 7:00 a.m. Macintyre is a buzzing hive of activity. Kids on their way to school play video games and eye the takeaways at Djenn’e Restaurant. Food vendors chop, stir, and light fires, preparing for a busy day of selling pap, vors, and salad to passing workers. Shop-owners lift up their imposing metal gates, and buildings that appeared abandoned transform into well-kept storefronts.

Jeppestown is one of downtown Joburg’s oldest neighborhoods. Maboneng is the newest. On the surface, these two adjacent areas appear worlds apart. But when I took my camera and started investigating more closely, I realised Jeppestown and Maboneng are overlapping halves of the same whole. It’s hard to determine where Maboneng ends and Jeppestown begins.

As a blogger, it’s my habit to visit a new area once, take some photos, and translate my initial impressions immediately into a new blog post. This project gave me the opportunity to explore a new area, which I knew only superficially before, in more depth. Over the last month I have gone back to Maboneng and Jeppestown again and again, photographing the same people and places at different times of day.

Although I finished the project with a much better feel for the place than I had before, I’ve still hardly scratched the surface. And meanwhile, things keep changing.

In addition to the Maboneng/Jeppestown photos, which I took with my DSLR, the exhibition included a series of Instagram shots that I took around town with my iPad.

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My Instagrams.

Here's what I had to say about the Instagrams. I tried to sound artsy.

Three months ago my mother gave me an iPad as a birthday gift. The moment I shot my first photo on Instagram, I was hooked. I love the freedom of shooting a photo, editing it, and posting it online in less than two minutes, with nothing more than a couple of finger swipes. I’ve been Instagramming madly, all over town, ever since.

While taking pictures for my Maboneng/Jeppestown project, I discovered that certain city scenes are too chaotic to properly capture with a DSLR. My Canon lens catches so many details that the storyline of the image gets lost. When I started to become frustrated by a certain scene, I put my camera away and pulled out my iPad. The result was a simpler image telling a more interesting story.

Most of the Instagrams displayed here were taken in Jeppestown and Maboneng, but several come from other parts of the Jozi CBD. Two were taken in my home suburb of Melville.

I'm struggling to find words to explain what this exhibition meant to me. So many people showed up to support me and said wonderful things about my pictures. Some people even bought the pictures, which felt pretty awesome. I stood up in front of 50-something people and did a question-and-answer session with my friend Christi. The audience seemed truly interested in what I had to say. Lots of people who I really care about were there, including George and Lucky. Lucky was so proud of me — this morning he told me that he almost cried while he was listening to me talk.

I was proud of myself, too. Probably more proud than I've ever been. I think this is the best set of photos that I've ever taken.

Here are some snapshots from last night. Christi took them on her phone and I edited them using Snapseed and Instagram.

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I thought about Jon a lot last night, and the whole time I was working on this exhibition, actually. There is one photo in particular that reminds me of Jon. I know that he was with me somehow when I shot it.

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“Flight”, by Heather Mason. (At some point I'll post a link to all of the exhibition photos. I'm too tired right now though. UPDATE: Check out all of the exhibition photos here.)

I could say much more but I'll leave it at that.

Thanks again to Christi Sa, the IT Corner, and everyone who supported me. If you weren't able to make it last night, the 14 Jeppestown/Maboneng photos are still up at the IT Corner. So stop in over the next couple of weeks and have a look. Have a pot of mint tea while you're at it.

Finally, check out this beautiful panoramic shot that my friend Derek took of my photos this morning. Love. Click on the image for a better view.

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Photo: Derek Smith

Oh, and this won't be the last time that I photograph/write about Jeppestown and Maboneng. I've got particularly big plans for Jeppestown, which is fast becoming one of my favorite neighborhoods in Jozi. Wait for it.


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