As previously mentioned, up until this point, the reason I wanted to photograph and write about The Southern Line was because I thought it would make a good story for a lifestyle or travel magazine. However, from the first moment I started taking pictures early in the morning of day 1, I quickly realised that this could be the start of me fulfilling a dream I’ve wanted ever since becoming a photographer -t o have a coffee- table book with my pictures inside and my name on the cover,… here was the chance!
From that moment on that was what I focussed on doing with the pictures.
I believe that it’s important to have a brief, either my own or from a client whenever taking pictures. This enables me to create a malleable plan in my head on how I’m going to go about shooting.
At the time +- 3.5 million people, across all demographics, were using the line a month.
This was my brief to self…
- The book would be an honest documentary of commuting life in South Africa as opposed to a travel book
The pictures would cover as many aspects – that I was allowed access to related to the working of the line. This included: The trains, the staff, the commuters, the scenery, the security and the stations. The final part of the brief was about how I was going to photograph it – here I decided that I wanted the pictures to look as if they’d been taken by someone/people/tourists, who on a day out, photographed things that were of interest to them. This meant that there wouldn’t be any post production on the images except for cleaning up and/or cropping the images.
For the first day shooting I remember getting up really early as I wanted to photograph the first of the daily commuters walking into the station. The reason for this was because I wasn’t sure of how to begin the photo essay and I wanted to acquaint myself with the whole project, without feeling pressured by the timetable of the trains.
For the next week or so, that became my life. Waking up early, getting down to a station and photographing anything and everything related to my brief. During the first few days security often stopped me and asked for my permit, but around day 3 I realised that I’d become part of the furniture with greetings coming regularly from train and station personnel.
During those days, the only time I wasn’t on a train or a station was when I was photographing landscape images linked to the line.