Zenfolio | Heatwave Photography | How I became a photographer

How I became a photographer

April 22, 2014  •  5 Comments

Once upon a time, in the year 2000, I realised I had a passion for photography; or to be more specific, my perfectionism spilled over into photography. I was in Kuala Lumpur on business, and I’d borrowed my mom’s point-and-shoot camera. As I travelled across Malaysia with my colleagues, we happily snapped away. My photos were horrible. I knew nothing about photography, I couldn’t tell you that the photos were badly composed, or underexposed, or anything like that. I just couldn’t stand how awful they were. I was terribly disappointed that I could produce something so mediocre. My colleague had a Minolta SLR and her photos were much better than mine. When we returned to South Africa, I bought myself that exact same Minolta. 'This is it, I thought; I’ll take better photos'…..and so it began.

Those days, I used drag my camera everywhere. I would photograph animals and waterfalls and people and plants and everything I could find. I had lots of enthusiasm with very little talent. The thing is, I had no idea how bad it was, so I practiced, and practiced, and steadily improved.

I started shooting weddings as a second photographer. I was fortunate enough to shadow Norman Dent, one of the great names in South African wedding photography. Norman taught me so much. Looking back, I realise that wedding photography is the ideal training ground for a photographer because you learn how to handle different lighting and weather conditions, clients’ personalities, etc. It teaches you a broad range of photographic and business skills, and I value the time I spent working under Norman, and other good wedding photographers. I remember Norman always used to say that the best photographers choose a speciality; they don’t just shoot anything and everything. That is some of the best advice I’d ever received. Deep inside I knew that I would never be a full time wedding photographer, but I was still trying my hand at anything I could find to photograph just to see what genre I loved most.

It was around that time that I started working for a company as a product photographer. I worked full time, and shot weddings and events on weekends. I did a couple of photographic courses, just to learn as much as I could. It’s tiring to be this busy while working a 9-5 job, and I started yearning for a full time career as a photographer. It took me nearly four years to make the decision to go solo. Running your own business has its own set of challenges, and, looking back, it was a brave and foolish thing to do. Now I wouldn’t change it for anything.

I started Heatwave Photographic Studios on a shoestring budget in 2005. I shared a studio with two other photographers, and we uplifted, encouraged and taught one another. At the time I still photographed weddings, as well as events, products and interiors. I love shooting interiors and products, it’s truly a specialist field and most photographers shy away from the precision it requires. As the years went by, I realised that I mostly went out to shoot products and interiors at my clients’ premises, and decided to move out of the studio. At the moment I rent a studio when required.

I made the decision to stop doing wedding photography in 2013. I feel a bride and groom deserve a wedding photographer who is passionate about creating beautiful images that they will treasure for the rest of their days. I am not that person. I am passionate about creating beautifully lit product and interior photography.

To my surprise, I discovered that I’m just as passionate about giving a voice to those who don’t have one, the marginalised and underprivileged. Read more about the project that brought this to realisation here: http://www.heatwavephotography.co.za/blog/2013/10/malawi-poverty-viewed-through-a-western-lens

Going forward, I see Heatwave Photographic Studios continuing to specialise in product and interior photography, bringing clients exquisite images of their spaces and products, photographed with a keen eye for detail, clean lines, and with creative use of lighting. I will continue to shoot events as and when required. I will photograph more sea- and cityscapes as I travel, I will bring a voice to the voiceless, both through photography and the written word. I want my photography to make a difference, to improve lives, to create awareness. I believe strongly that this will be done in my lifetime, and I’m looking forward to the journey.

I hope you enjoyed reading my story. Till next time,



Heatwave Photography
Thank you, I'm so glad you like it!
Melonie Govender(non-registered)
Absolutely inspired by your story ! I enjoy reading your blogs and Love the new Logo !
Heatwave Photography
Thank you so much!!
Really inspired by your courage to pursue this journey. Many times we procrastinate on decisions assuming the worst will happen, and it takes a lot of strength to sky dive into the unknown and rise up, as a success. All the best for the next 10 years!
Loraine Marshall(non-registered)
Wow, how wonderful to learn about your success and how much you've grown since first photographing one of my events and, my dearest children: Snoopy & Chewy! You are very fortunate to have such a talent and passion... that's what life is about. Well done my long lost friend. So proud of you.
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