3 November dawned bright and clear with an early Summer tinge to the air; photographer Donna and her assistant Willem would know as they were up earlier than the sun was. The daybreak brought with it the sweet promise of a beautiful day and what better way to spend it than in the office. Their office on the beach that is, with award-winning food editor Vickie de Beer shooting “Dis Lekker By Die See” for the January issue of Rooirose.
After an early rise it was off to Swartreit situated 90 minutes up the coast from Cape Town, or perhaps a bit further if you take a couple of scenic detours. Willem and Donna arrived at the chalet that was to serve as their base camp, or headquarters as Donna prefers to call it (she has a flair for the dramatic) and waited an hour or so for Vickie and her assistants. To bide the time they did what any self-respecting photographer with a sense of self-preservation would do at that kind of hour – they made coffee.
The warming sun was used to full advantage as a group of cats soon joined Willem and Donna as they waited. Stretching and purring while contentedly soaking up the warmth with their claws retracted and their teeth barely visible, it’s easy to see how Willem mistook them for ‘killer cats” ready to attack at any moment. He harbours some mildly formed, shrouded in the decay of time, childhood memory of a sleepover at a friend’s house involving a cat and his asthma as an excuse for despising the entire species. I think he was just jealous of their easy-going lifestyle and ability to eat shellfish without having an allergic reaction. Donna’s fear for potential snakes on the other hand was quietly dismissed as irrational.
Vickie and her team eventually arrived and then it was time for the fun to really begin. As Donna set up the equipment Willem was put to work making a fire on the beach. Vickie and her assistant prepared the food inside the chalet and brought down to the beach mouth-watering plates of the freshest seafood with the precession of killer cats marching purposefully behind, much to Willem’s dismay.
Vickie had enlisted the help of her friend and his son, Pierre and Pierre Junior to help as models for the shoot. Pierre Junior was only too delighted to have a day off school and took his role very seriously by adopting a commendably professional attitude. They had to be back in Stellenbosch for an appointment by midmorning so all the model photos were shot first.
Vickie makes all shoots a rustig experience, trusting the photographers to use their own initiative when necessary. It can, however, be quite challenging shooting on the beach when the light is harsh but in such situations Donna says a photographer’s gear should always include a skrim, gold and silver reflectors and of course a Willem. Together they got the job done and with their bellies full of seafood (minus the shellfish for Willem) the day was wrapped up by 3pm and then it was back to the real office and the real world.
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