ABOUT

THE FESTIVAL.

THE

HISTORY.

The festival idea came about from a conversation in 2019 between myself and a great photographer friend of mine, Johan Wilke. We met in 1985 at Art College in PE studying photography together. At the time I was in my first year and Johan in his 3rd year. 

 

He was a great documentarist and that is what I aspired to be and so he became my mentor there. After studying I went travelling around Europe and Johan opened up a photography studio in CT. 

 

When I returned some 3 years later I became his assistant for the next 5 years. I learnt much about the business and every medium of photography.  I went on to open my own studios and an equipment rental business and gallery. At heart we were both still however documentary (‘desisive moment’) photographers.

 

Jumping to the present some 20 years later, we both had moved on to re-visit Analog Photography extensively and had both decided that the real art of photography was B+W Analog – photos shot on film and hand-printed.

 

To celebrate this artform and give it the recognition it needed, we would organise a combined 2020 exhibition of our best decisive moment, retrospective and hand-printed images. We would call it The 2020 Vision exhibition. Tragically Johan died suddenly and lockdowns etc arrived and the world was turned upside down.

I realised how myself and all my photography friends has suddenly lost our income and this was on top of the fact that everyone was now ‘a professional photographer’ with work diminishing for us old professionals.

 

 

I decided then to create the Barrydale Analog Photography Festival in my lovely home town. I wanted to honour and celebrate the documentary photography of Johan Wilke by hosting a retrospective exhibition of his decisive moment analog photographs.

I started speaking to all my other old analog photography friends who had produced work before digital existed and they were all very excited about the idea and of getting involved.

The next 4 months involved organizing the festival during hard lockdown with no funding but tons of support and enthusiasm from my friends and all the involved photographers.

 

I spoke with Theo Nel the owner of the local Karoo Art Hotel and asked if I could host the festival there and especially since it would likely bring added business to him and to the town as a whole. He was keen to partake and gave me carte blanche to use the various spaces as I saw fit. 

Next came the planning phase. Very few of the photographers still had darkrooms or the time to print and frame so many proceeded to dig through their storage units for old images usually from 20+ years ago. Some provided photos from previous exhibitions and others took framed photos off their walls and borrowed images back from family members and friends.

 then got chatting to Jonathan Rees, a friend I made from JHB, who had just bought two properties in Barrydale, one of which was a lovely old house with no electricity and tons of character. After an evening around the fire with drinks, I convinced him that it would be a great idea to make this available as an exhibition venue.

 

This then opened up another dimension to the festival that I did not expect! He is a go-getter and once the seed was planted and he was back in JHB, he decided that we needed more of our country’s analog photography greats to be represented at the festival. After all, analog photography is something that needs celebrating and appreciating for its contribution to our world and the skill and dedication to the craft that it entails.

 

Jonathan approached two of South Africa’s legends. With no funders and no past experience of hosting a festival of this nature it took some persuasion but he and myself convinced Roger Ballen and the custodians of David Goldblatt’s estate to come on board.

I then got chatting to Jonathan Rees, a friend I made from JHB, who had just bought two properties in Barrydale, one of which was a lovely old house with no electricity and tons of character. After an evening around the fire with drinks, I convinced him that it would be a great idea to make this available as an exhibition venue.

 

This then opened up another dimension to the festival that I did not expect! He is a go-getter and once the seed was planted and he was back in JHB, he decided that we needed more of our country’s analog photography greats to be represented at the festival. After all, analog photography is something that needs celebrating and appreciating for its contribution to our world and the skill and dedication to the craft that it entails.

 

Jonathan approached two of South Africa’s legends. With no funders and no past experience of hosting a festival of this nature it took some persuasion but he and myself convinced Roger Ballen and the custodians of David Goldblatt’s estate to come on board.

the

founder.

Graham Abbott, the creator of the festival, was born in Cape Town 56 years ago and but spent most of his school going years at boarding school in a small Karoo town Montagu.

 

At school he started the photographic society and built his first B+W Darkroom under the stage in the school hall. He spent hours studing the images in the National Geographic Magazine that his mother got him a subscription for and dreaming of working for them one day.

After School he became a section leader in the Marines while doing his two years national service spending time fighting on the Angolan border where he managed to sneak two Pentax 35mm cameras up with him and recorded his adventures.

 

Graham’s first love is Documentary photography so he found out that the Art collage in Port Elizabeth had a head lecturer Ian Difford that taught Documentry photography,

 

He completed a two year diploma in photography at Art Collage and then went traveling Europe for a year ended up in London where he did a year long course at the London Collage of Printing becoming a very skilled B+W Analog Printer. Over the next 3 years he worked in London doing odd jobs, as during the 80’s South Africans were not allowed to work in the UK.

Graham managed to drive trucks, work on building sites and in Art Galleries all the time saving up for the photographic equipment he needed to open up his own business back in Cape Town.

 

Once back is Cape Town Graham became a full time assistant to a fellow student from college, Johan Wilke who had started his fashion and advertising photography studio two years earlier. He spent the next 5 years working, assisting and learning from Johan and from many other international photographers that were shooting in Cape Town over summer months.

It was time to set up his own studio in Gardens Cape Town with another good photography friend from Collage Tim Hopwood.

 

Tim decided a few months in that the studio photography business was not for him so Graham took over the business and through all the years of assisting he had managed to buy all the camera gear he would possibly need to do any shoot possible and decided then to open the first Analog Photography equipment rental business in Cape Town.

 

Graham became an accomplished Fashion and Advertising photographer as well as opening a coffee bar for photographers and models called F.Stop and a second 650 m2 studio the largest Rental studio in Cape Town.

In 2010 after 20 Years as a professional photographer Graham’s mother developed Alzheimers and was not able to look after herself. Graham being the only child and having lost his father at 17 decided to sell up everything and look after him mother.

 

As Hanna his mom had grown up in the Karoo he decided that she should end her days where she grew up and was her happiest so he decided on the little town of Barrydale.

Hanna spent her last 3 years very happy living in Barrydale and when she passed Graham had fallen in love with the quite life and slow pace of life in Barrydale and has been here for 10 years now and built himself a Photographic Studio and B+W Darkroom on his smallholding,

 

The Studio Barn, as he calls it has become the base for his Wet-plate Photography that he now specializes in and the space where workshops during the Analog Festival are run.

 

Wetplate and Analog photography and printing workshops are only some of the workshops that he runs from his property and he is planning a framing business to frame Analog Photography for other Artists wanting to exhibit at the Analog Festival.

 

Graham still does Advertising photography but is moving more into making advertising and documentary films but his great love still goes back to doing B+W Analog documentary photography with his Leica M2 Camera and his 35 mm Summicron f2 lens and hosting the Analog Photography Festival in Barrydale.

why

analog.

Nowadays we are constantly comparing, creating digital content and screaming our own thoughts to the world on the internet, all in the hope that everyone likes us and our ‘opinions’.

 Film photography has nothing to do with that. It forces you to just be in the moment. 
It act’s as a way out of the always more more more philosophy that has become the norm.
 
It acts like a kind of meditation, it forces one to slow down, think, and stay focused to be in the zone and come to rest from the busy things around you all the time.
 
The benefit of the authenticity of the shooting experience is that one slows down completely and observes the present moment more directly. Not being able to check each shot leads to the trusting of one’s intuition. Being comfortable with the unknown is often missing in digital photography. 
There is also always the mystery, the unknown until the film is developed. Then there’s the perusal of the negatives and watching an image come alive when printing.
 
All of this has resulted in some rejecting the technical perfection of the present digital photography age, often so good that flaws are nearly imperceptible. Older, flawed technologies are experiencing a revival.
 
The experience of shooting film not only changes how you take photographs but also how you view the world and photography as an art form.
The feeling of using an older, all mechanical camera system and the softer, more natural image is all part of the analog aesthetic. Using an old manual system can add additional pressure by needing thought and input with every shot. One thus learns so much more.
 
 
The aesthetics and the mechanical nature of handling an old camera body and lens is more tangible than pushing on a touchscreen or viewing a digital screen. There is sometimes the wondering about what a particular old camera may have been through, what moments it has captured in its life, and how much pleasure it provided its owners over the years, so to the nostalgia for a previous time and way of life.
 
 
A reason film seems more “authentic” than digital is that humans are tactile creatures. We understand and relate to things we can touch, smell, and feel. We are less trusting and more cynical about things we can’t easily understand, like binary code and algorithms. 
 
 
In my opinion, authenticity in photography is more about how it makes you feel and the creative process that you went through to create the image.

Shopping cart

0

No products in the cart.