The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”
― Dorothea Lange
Every day I post two photographs on my ‘ear ‘ear Facebook page. So I am constantly on the look out for pictures that leap out and grab your attention. I was struck by a beautiful picture of a cottage at sunset. There in the corner of the picture was the photographer’s name: Willie Fritz. Glory, Willie, my old friend, had taken this picture! With Willie’s name in the corner, it looked professional. Willie wasn’t a photographer, was he? I recalled him being in the advertising business. Could he have given that up? I looked at the photograph once more. This definitely needed investigating! I happened to be in Cape Town, so I gave him a call and suggested coffee.
It was good seeing him once more. We sat at a table on The Waterfront and time fell away. I remembered why Willie and I get on so well. He has an easy smile and penetrating eyes that miss nothing. He now freelances in the advertising industry and designs and creates websites predominantly for the wine industry. He often has to photograph grapes, bottles, glasses of wine, rolling acres of vineyards. His work is calling him outside, amongst the vines. That is where he loves to be, armed with his camera.
For a while, Willie suffered from depression. It was then that he discovered the joy found behind a camera lens.
“Taking pictures is savouring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” says Marc Riboud. Willie couldn’t agreed more. Like all of us, he is searching for meaning in life. Often he finds this through the camera lens.
“Photography isolates the beauty in the world. It makes you remember to look and see so much glory surrounding you.” He points to some bicycles standing nearby. “Ordinary bicycles. Yet if you truly look at them, you see the amazingly intricate patterns the spokes of their wheels make.” He laughs, “Beauty! It is everywhere. You just have to truly look and then you can’t miss it!”
Photography is a very personal matter. Willie believes that pre-conceived ideas are revealed in what you’re photographing, your personality, your view of life. A photographer’s perceptions can shape his image. How he thinks and feels about a subject can influence the way the photograph is taken. Each person leaves fingerprints on their photographs.
Willie would love to publish a book with photographs of the less glamorous side of Cape Town. Voortrekker Road is the longest street in Cape Town and for Willie holds such incredible fascination. The people, the way they live, some small yet impeccably kept gardens. Having seen a few of his photographs, I am intrigued by this notion. Willie has the potential to make it captivating.
Elliot Erwitt says: “To me photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. I’ve found it has little to do with the things that you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
I would like to show you eight of Willie Fritz’s way of seeing some of life.
(He uses a Canon 70D camera and his favourite lens is a Sigma 17:50)
Blood Moon was shot in Wolsley. Willie says: “I got up at 3.30 on the morning of the 28th of September to photograph the blood moon, and nature put on such a spectacle that I stayed up until 7 that morning to watch it sink into the mountains in the west.”
I love this photograph of a gypsy woman taken in Lisbon. Her face says so much.
“Sometimes I arrive just when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter,” says Ansel Adams. Willie snapped his shutter in ‘God’s time’ and captured this dove, perfectly at peace with itself, in the ninth century Abbey of Mont Saint Michel in Normandy, France.
“Some days, when the south easter blows like crazy, the sky over Cape Town is filled with these wild clouds,” says Willie.
I am made so aware of the vastness of creation, when looking at this photograph, Wild Sky. How small is man!
The day before I met Willie, he had been walking his collie at the foot of the Tygerberg mountains, when he heard an owl hooting above him. Quick as a flash – SNAP – he captured the camouflaged bird, sleepily gazing at him.
This photograph completely captivated me. A solitary figure walking…..Lonely Man.
“I saw this guy standing at a river mouth, against a backdrop of huge mountains. I marvelled at how small he looked. But that insignificance got lost in the detail of the photograph. I cut the man out and blurred the background, then put the man back. Now the picture looks more like what I saw.”
“Every spring, the fields to the north of Cape Town are filled with yellow canola flowers”, Willie remarked, “and I thought it might be fun to see what they looked like with a full moon. This photograph is a composition: I first photographed the fields, then zoomed in to the moon and stitched them together.”
So many wonderful photographs. So much talent that I never expected! People constantly surprise you.
Particularly people you know!