A Tale of Two Cities

Jameson Caskmates, recently launched in South Africa, is the result of a fearless collaboration. The idea of blending whiskey in beer barrels (and vice-versa) may have seemed a little nutty at first, but the passionate people involved in the project pushed on regardless, relying on a healthy combination of well-honed craftsmanship, and curiosity. Sometimes the best results emerge from an intuitive impulse, and the willingness to experiment.

Putting this notion to the test, the Jameson INDIE Channel did a little experiment of our own, drawing on the ethos of collaboration exemplified by Jameson Caskmates. But instead of beer barrels, we decided to use film rolls…

We hatched an idea with two of our favourite analogue photographers – Andile Buka and Anke Loots – to fuse their talents together in a unique way. Photographers like Anke and Andile who consciously work with 35mm film (as opposed to digital cameras) are arguably the real craftsmen and women of the photographic world. Without being able to immediately see the image after that decisive ‘clack’ of the shutter, they really need to fine tune their abilities to confidently capture the world as they see it at a moment’s notice, without the reassurance of a digital preview.

Film also enables a nifty little photographic trick called ‘double exposure’, whereby two (or more) images are superimposed on the same negative. Back in the pre-digital day, this was often a source of frustration for shooters who forgot to wind the film on to the next frame after taking a picture, and ended up ruining that perfect shot of the Eiffel Tower at sunset. But for many decades daring photographers have embraced the idea of merging images in-camera to create surreal scenarios from the collision of two realities. You see, even if you decide to shoot in this way, you only get to see the results after the film has been developed. So, you either need to really plan what you’re doing to a tee, or just go nuts and embrace the unexpected. For this project we opted for the latter.

You either need to really plan what you’re doing to a tee, or just go nuts and embrace the unexpected. For this project we opted for the latter.

We gave two rolls of film to Anke in Cape Town, and left her to her own devices for a week. After she has taken her 72 exposures, we asked her to blindly rewind the rolls of film and return them to us. We then popped the film into a courier bag and sent them to Andile in Johannesburg. Without knowing what Anke had photographed, he went about shooting his hometown.

“Initially Anke initially told me a bit about her thought process and approach for this project,” Andile recalls. “She made little notes in terms of what she shot on both rolls and I used that as a vague frame of reference. I ultimately realised that the best pictures come from what’s in front you, so I just photographed the Jo’burg CBD as I know it best, and some of the people that I encountered while cycling through the city streets.”

Eventually, we had the film developed at a lab in Johannesburg. After a day or two of fervent anticipation, we finally got to see the results of our experiment: as evocatively surreal as we could have imagined.

“I think the secret to success is picking the right mix of collaborators,” said Anke reflecting on the project. She’d never met Andile – still hasn’t in fact – but was familiar with his work via social media. “He’s got a serious knack for capturing a strong photograph, and that was really the only thing that made giving up control and shooting this project less nerve wracking.”

“I think what I learned from this project is to always jump and not wait for a safety net; the safety net will come after,” said Andile.

I had to give up the need for perfection, and really trust my vision and intuition

“Through hours of play and unbridled exploration we stumble across new and exciting ideas that feed back into our everyday work, and ultimately help lift it above what has come before.”

Kudos to these fearless photographers for producing something truly original.

Make sure to follow Andile and Anke on Instagram.

Dylan Culhane is the Jameson INDIE Channel director, and a closet revolutionary. He loves sipping whiskey to the accompaniment of new ideas.

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