At the end of last week I had a rather dim moment. I left my laptop on the Thanda bus, so waved goodbye to the wonderful guests that I had in the berg over the weekend...and my laptop and the last blog post that I was supposed to put up. So imagine this is actually being read last Monday :-)
This morning I wandered out to the ridge overlooking the Mahai Valley to gaze at my beguiling mistress. The distant whisper of Mahai Falls drifted over the stubby grass. It is sometimes good to put the camera down so that we can fall in love again with the wonder that impels us to pick up the camera and make a canvas of the world. Will our images mean anything in the future? Do they mean anything now? We can look at areas of natural splendour in the world and often a photographer’s images have been instrumental in protecting that small space. Zack Arias’ eloquent and moving video about that questions what it is he does as a photographer came to me as a I picked out details in the near distance of Dooley Waters. Will my images move people to protect the mountain that mesmerizes me so. I’m just a photographer. One of a million who is trying to make a living with a camera in my hand. Will these images do anything for anyone apart from myself. Are they just an attempt to fill a ceasely draining bank account, or can they do more for the mountain and its future.
With these thoughts of the mortality of imagery in my head ;-) I can now reflect on this last weekend’s Drakensberg photography workshop with African Impact. Not everyone makes it to the summit sadly, as was the case this last weekend. However, I am continually amazed at how everyone walks away having created beautiful, often breathtaking imagery. For the few photographers who opted not to go to the summit yesterday, they were treated to the fantastic experience of a full 20 minutes up close to a feeding bearded vulture. Witsieshoek Resort are in the process of a developing a Vulture’s restaurant of the flanks of the hill that looks out towards Phudhatijaba. Jeremiah, responsible for tending to the restaurant is quite protective of his ‘clients’. There are four recognizable individuals that frequent the restaurant, but it is still not necessarily a regular occurance for visitors to see the birds, let alone spend as much time as the photographers did with them.
As I mention in the opening paragraphs, it is sometimes good to put down the camera. Standing above Witches with the photographers that went to the top of the Amphitheatre, watching the sun rise through the distant haze, I noticed that there was a point that the clatter of cameras fell silent. Silence enveloped the small peak that we were standing on. It was as if the mountain were holding its breath. Something made everyone stop focusing on the machine and instead stare into the glowing sky. The mountain’s hold was momentary, but it was there all the same. The Drakensberg left its mark I suspect. Maybe the images won’t necessarily mean anything in the long term. But the memories will.