The Story Behind My Exhibition Photos (Belated)

by | Dec 16, 2012 | Instagram, Johannesburg, Johannesburg City Centre | 23 comments

After my photo exhibition, I promised to write a post including all of the pics and an in-depth explanation of how I shot them. I kept putting this off — I felt a bit “exhibitioned out”, and also haven’t felt much like blogging lately. But anyway, I’ve decided it’s time to stop procrastinating.

As I explained in my first exhibition post, all of the photos were taken in Jeppestown and Maboneng, an area where I go running sometimes during boxing training. The majority of the photos were taken on two streets — Fox Street, where most of the Maboneng development is, and the adjoining Macintyre Street, one of the main arteries through Jeppestown.

Maboneng window - Heather Mason


I took this photo above the courtyard at Arts on Main in Maboneng. If you’ve been to Arts on Main, you may have noticed a ladder going up from the stairway outside the upstairs market. There’s a bar and a lock across the ladder, making it seem as if you’re not supposed to climb it. But it’s easy to slip through the bar and climb up. I decided to give it a try one Sunday and no one stopped me.

At the top of the ladder is this strange plastic enclosure with small rectangular windows cut into it. One of the windows provides a perfect view of Main Street Life and other Maboneng buildings.

(For those of you who don’t know, Maboneng is a new community in the Jozi CBD, created by a property development company called Propertuity. Read more about Maboneng here.)

Training - Heather Mason


Since I discovered this area through my boxing sessions, it seemed appropriate to include a boxing photo in the exhibition. This is my coach, George, and one of his boxers. They train several times a week on the roof of the 12 Decades Hotel in Maboneng. The 12 Decades is a great place to work out, especially with the city skyline in the background. The building on the left is the Carlton Centre — the tallest office building in Africa.

Morning on macintyre - Heather Mason

Morning on Macintyre.

I’ve been fascinated by Macintyre Street since my first boxing run last summer. There’s so much happening there: schoolkids playing video games in the takeaway shop on the corner, barbers giving haircuts out of makeshift shacks, food vendors eking out a living by selling to passing workers. This photo shows how Macintyre Street feels in the morning.

Flight - Heather Mason


At 7:00 a.m, this section of Macintyre Street appears abandoned save for the pigeons and stray passersby. But at 9:00 a.m., the security gates come up and these desolate-looking buildings transform into cheerful shops.

This is my favorite picture in the exhibition.

Awakening - Heather Mason


I shot this from the roof of a dilapidated building on Fox St. I was focusing on the men below, and didn’t notice until later that there was a woman looking down at them from her bedroom window.

Sam - Heather Mason


The morning I took this, I had actually decided I was finished for the day and was headed back to my car with Joe, my hired bodyguard for this project. Joe stopped me and pointed across the street. “That guy wants you to take his photo,” Joe said. The guy was Sam, an informal recycler from Lesotho who lives in this abandoned building. The building is less than two blocks from Maboneng.

Survival - Heather Mason


After taking that picture of Sam, I kept thinking about the building behind him. I had seen another guy peaking out from above and I wanted to know what was up there. A few days later, Joe and I climbed the two-story stairwell and discovered a huge roof, about half the size of a football field, covered in rubbish and recycling.

Sidekick - Heather Mason


One afternoon, I was shooting photos of a bunch of boys skateboarding on Fox St. I was so consumed with the skateboarders than I hardly noticed the little boy standing on the sidelines. But he insisted that I photograph him. The more photos I took, the more he smiled. At the time, I only took the photos to humor him. In the end though, the skateboarders didn’t make my final edit but their sidekick did.

Waiting - Heather Mason


A bored saleswoman and equally bored mannequin on Macintyre St. I was drawn to their expressions, which seem oddly similar.

Black coffee - Heather Mason

Black Coffee.

Another human/mannequin combo, which contrasts nicely with the image above. The shop is Black Coffee, a high-end, locally owned clothes store in Maboneng. The man is a designer/stylist named Felipe, enjoying one of the monthly Thursday evening night markets at Arts on Main.

Jeppes Town - Heather Mason

Jeppes Town.

While shooting photos in a clothing shop on Macintyre St. called City Outfitters, I got into a conversation with the shop’s owner, Abdullah Dajee. When I explained what I was doing, Abdullah suggested I go around the corner and check out the mural along Marshall St. Abdullah’s late father, Mohammed, funded this building, called the Jozi Mall, and hired a local artist to paint a mural showing what this same block looked like in 1896. The Jozi Mall is occupied by small businesses like the bakery behind those bars.

Afternoon on Fox - Heather Mason

Afternoon on Fox.

Another building on Fox St., just up the street from Maboneng. I took this at the very end of my last day of shooting. It was one of those moments when everything came together perfectly.

Sundowners - Heather Mason


A relatively new hotspot in Maboneng, called the Living Room. It’s a great place to watch the sun go down. This is the Sunday evening vibe in Maboneng.

Hadeda sunset - Heather Mason

Hadeda sunset.

Jozi. Taken from a small balcony above the Living Room. The hadeda is one of Jozi’s most distinctive birds. There’s a hadeda painted in the building in the foreground, and another hadeda flying through the air.

These 14 photos above were the centerpiece of the exhibition, but I also included 24 Instagrams, most of which were shot in Jeppestown and Maboneng as well. Here are a few.

hmason angry skyline

Angry skyline.

hmason16 disappearing jozi

Disappearing Jozi.

hmason school kids

School kids.

In my previous post, I said that I prefer shooting certain scenes with Instagram rather than with my DSLR camera. This scene is a good example. I shot tons of photos of this takeaway shop with my Canon 60D, but they always came out too cluttered. The square frame of Instagram honed right in on the kids’ faces. It was the only shot that worked.

hmason eyes


Another scene that worked only with Instagram.

hmason18 lords


hmason rubbish


I took this on the rooftop recycling center. Again, this image only works in Instagram.

hmason20 jabu


A skate ramp on Fox St. in Maboneng.

hmason26 biscuit lady

Biscuit lady.

Taken inside that window cut into the mural in the Jozi Mall.

hmason27 coconuts


A vendor at Arts on Main.

hmason38 through the fence

Through the fence.

I’m a wee bit obsessed with the Jozi skyline.

I hope you enjoyed this post, but I’m officially exhibitioned out now. In fact, I am so sick of this post that I’m not even going to proofread it. Please let me know if there are any typos. Good night.


  1. Cliffy Els

    Always interesting to get the behind the scenes. Your images are amazing and capture the essence of the people and the places.

    Your words match the images. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog.

    • 2summers

      Thanks so much, that’s really great to hear. I kind of got bored writing it so I wasn’t sure it would be interesting to others. I think I’ve just spent too much time looking at these pics 🙂

  2. eremophila

    I appreciate the hard work you put into not only the exhibition, but in sharing it here – thanks Heather! You’ve not only got a great eye for a scene, but an obvious rapport with people.

  3. Slowvelder

    Lovely pics Heather. Instagram does just somehow seem to have a thing about it – can’t put my finger on it but the emotion present in those pictures is unreal.

    • 2summers

      Thanks Jackie. I forgot to mention that those nifty Instagram filters really help, too.

  4. thirdeyemom

    These are wonderful Heather. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • 2summers

      Thanks Nicole 🙂

  5. Dienna

    “I am so sick of this post that I’m not even going to proofread it. Please let me know if there are any typos. Good night.”

    I feel that if anyone’s spent their time nitpicking the typos in this post, then they’re missing the beauty of these photos. And this is coming from someone who does a lot of editing and proofreading.

    These photos are amazing. I felt like I was there with you witnessing all those magic moments.

    • 2summers

      Thank you very much. And I did go back later and fix most of the typos 🙂

  6. tomorrowslices

    Great to hear about the stories behind the images – while the photos speak for themselves, getting your perspective on them adds even more life & insight. You have a great eye for finding the right picture & story.

    • 2summers

      Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  7. Rebecca Kemp Pogir

    Love your blog and I love the pics that you take. Keep on writing…it is fascinating to read 😉

    • 2summers

      Thanks so much! I love reading comments like this.

  8. Mia Roets

    Great stuff Heather! I could never get tired of beautiful Jozi skyline pics. But one of my favorites has to be “Afternoon on Fox” – where everything truly comes together. Well done. Hope you will find new energy next year 🙂

    • 2summers

      Thanks Mia. We haven’t run into each other in while! Hope to see you soon 🙂

  9. Jaco Roets

    Amazing post!

  10. Katy du Plessis

    Awesome photos!!! I love your skyline ones, where can one buy a copy of them???



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