The Story Behind My Exhibition Photos (Belated)

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

Window.

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

Training.

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

Flight.

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

Awakening. 

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

Sam.

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

Survival.

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

Sidekick.

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

Waiting.

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

Sundowners.

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

Eyes.

Another scene that worked only with Instagram.

hmason18 lords

Lord’s.

hmason rubbish

Rubbish.

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

hmason20 jabu

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

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.

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24 Comments

  • Reply Cliffy Els December 16, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    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.

    • Reply 2summers December 16, 2012 at 9:57 pm

      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 🙂

  • Reply morganwiltshire December 16, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Fantastic work, well worth your efforts!

  • Reply eremophila December 16, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    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.

  • Reply Slowvelder December 16, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    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.

    • Reply 2summers December 17, 2012 at 9:13 am

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

  • Reply thirdeyemom December 16, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    These are wonderful Heather. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Reply Dienna December 17, 2012 at 2:54 am

    “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.

    • Reply 2summers December 17, 2012 at 9:14 am

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

  • Reply tomorrowslices December 17, 2012 at 5:15 am

    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.

    • Reply 2summers December 17, 2012 at 9:14 am

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

  • Reply Rebecca Kemp Pogir December 17, 2012 at 6:52 pm

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

    • Reply 2summers December 17, 2012 at 7:58 pm

      Thanks so much! I love reading comments like this.

  • Reply Mia Roets December 18, 2012 at 9:22 am

    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 🙂

    • Reply 2summers December 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm

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

  • Reply trevorcalverley December 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Very cool.

  • Reply Jaco Roets December 18, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Amazing post!

  • Reply 10 Things to Do in Jozi this year | findingjozi January 31, 2013 at 9:10 am

    […] on offer (although the food here is also phenomenal.) It is quite small but with the expansion of Maboneng happening at such breakneck speeds, once you’re done with the market, there is a lot more to do […]

  • Reply Katy du Plessis July 23, 2014 at 11:47 am

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

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