Saturday 27 November 2010

News from the South African Townships,Thanks to the Flash Centre and Velmex

Followers of this blog will know of my visit to the South African townships of Vrygrond and Overcome Heights earlier this year where I held held a Workshop for township youth's under the stewardship of the NGO True North.

It was a success in many respects with some of the students continuing to use the Canon 450D's to earn money in the community, photographing weddings, christenings and parties

The real sadness was that while computers are relatively affordable a good quality wide format printer which is capable of delivering great photographic and graphic results is out of everyone's league.

Why was I so stuck on a wide format printer? Well aside from the considerably lower running costs think of this...

In the townships HIV and AIDS is rife, there is a degree of awareness but imagine if it were relatively cheap and easy to print public health posters and post them in the community?

All of a sudden a printer becomes more than a way of the students seeing their own work and for the more motivated to earn some kind of living in a country where unemployment is the number one enemy.

Fast forward a few months to July and I'm visiting my friends in the Flash Centre.

Its stock taking time and everyone is wading through equipment in the bowels of the shop.

I'm chatting to my old friend Chris Whittle, the owner of the Flash Centre, he knows of my visit to South Africa and he asks me what is next with the project.

He listens with interest as I tell him just what a great impact the project has had with everyone involved and how I was trying to get a wide format printer to the community.

He smiles and motions to a Secondhand but very good Canon W6400 in the corner of the basement and says 'You can have that if you like'.

I accept his offer with indecent haste thanking him profusely.

Then it sinks in.

Chris Whittle of the Flash Centre has donated a wonderful Canon W6400 wide format printer.

Dimensions (in inches) 43.2 x 47.3 x 29.6

Weight 108lbs (around 50kgs)

How on earth am I going to get it to South Africa???????

So I rang Mark Keeley the CEO of Velmex, distributors of the fantastic Canon LFP products.

The conversation went something like this:

Drew.  'Hi Mark how are things?

Mark. 'Great thank you Drew'

Drew. 'The Flash Centre have donated a Canon W6400 printer to the Township project. Do you know of any good shipping companies who could ship it to South Africa?'

Mark. 'That sounds like a worthy cause, can we check it over, refurbish it and ship it for you?'

Drew 'That would be fantastic, are you sure?'

Mark 'Yes, we would love to help. We can throw in some spare ink and paper for it too'

Drew.'Thank you!!!!!!!!

Within the hour it was loaded in the back of my car for its journey to Velmex HQ in South London to start its long journey.

To be honest it was a much longer journey than any of us could have imagined as True North only got their hands on it in the past couple of weeks thanks to Customs and storage issues, leaving the NGO scrabbling to find funds to get the printer released.

So they are now installing it and within a short space of time it will be in full use with the students.

Without Chris Whittle of the Flash Centre who donated the printer and Mark Keeley of Velmex who shipped and prepped the printer it would not have been possible at all.

I cannot thank them enough for their contribution.

Their kindness and generosity will be felt by the the whole community, not just the students.

I will be travelling to the townships again early next year to run another week long workshop with the youths in the townships.

I will report back to you and let you know how the students are progressing, and the difference the printer is making.

Monday 22 November 2010

Drew Gardner workshop Belgium- Hosted by Bert Stephani

There has been quite a lot to cram in of late, and the pace is not slowing at all, as you will see in the next few weeks

All a bit of a lame excuse for not getting this video of the workshop from the end of the Summer held at Bert Stephani's place in Belgium?

Belgium? Why Belgium?

Why not!

Workshops are driven by demand and Bert asked me while I was over in Belgium for a seminar

So I'm alway open to suggestions.........

It was a fun weekend with photographers sharing ideas and playing with a whole heap of Elinchrom lighting, aided in no small part by Servix the Elinchrom agent for Belgium

Drew Gardner Workshop at Bert Stephani HQ Belgium from drew gardner on Vimeo.

Really struck by the differences between the different approaches of the groups

It was a great fun, I hope to repeat it next year

Sunday 21 November 2010

Stanley Kubrick Fotografo 1945-1950, Venice

When I was in Venice a couple of weeks ago I caught the Stanley Kubrick Fotografo 1945-1950 show at the Istituto Veneto di Science

Kubrick started his career, not with moving images but with stills

He started shooting when he was just 17 years old for 'Look' magazine

It is an interesting exhibition for many reasons, with some very beautiful images

Even in his very early work you can see the visual language of his great movies

You get to see the very 'seeds' of his work, they are movies in still form

With a few notable exceptions, you don't see photojournalism 'per se' at work.

What you do see is beautifully directed still images and in my opinion is all the more interesting for that

I found it a real inspiration

The show runs until December 8th, do catch it if you get the chance

You can get a sense of the exhibition with this video, even if you don't speak Italian

Stanley Kubrick Fotografo - Milano from flywheel impresacreativa on Vimeo.

When I worked for a photographer for the 'Sunday Telegraph' I had the pleasure to meet and photograph the late Stanley Kubrick's widow Christiane at their home,  and his final resting place, outside St Alban's a year or so after his death.

I shot a portrait of her with her cats, I would post the picture but it is buried in my negative archive, perhaps one day I will get round to scanning it

We had a chatter about all sorts and we spoke briefly about Stanley.

Moment like that are what I became a photographer for.


Monday 8 November 2010

Teaser from the Zebra shoot, the Latest from the 'Forest' Series

My latest addition to the Forest series is soon to be unveiled and today I've got an exciting teaser to share with you, put together by my good friends the Bui Brothers which I hope will whet your appetites.

Post production is in full swing and the whole thing is set to be completed and online by the end of November.

Drew Gardner Zebra Shoot Teaser from drew gardner on Vimeo.

In fact if you want to know more about this shoot and the rest of 'The Forest' series why not join me (its FREE!) at my Manfrotto School of Xcellence Webinar Tutorial on December 6th.

You can ask anything you like and I will do my very best to answer your queries.

2010 has been a brilliant year for me, my 30th as a professional photographer, and before the end of the year  I have some exciting new developments to be unveiled in December which I hope you will all enjoy.