Photography is the art of recording light as it paints the world around us to emphasize the nuances.
“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” ~ Michelangelo.
Work a great deal with evening effects, a lamp, a candle, etc. The tantalizing thing is not always…. the source of light, but the effect of light. ~ Edward Degas
Francois Cloete embarked on his photographic journey at the age of 7 when he sold silkworms to students in a quest to get enough money to buy a tiny camera that his eyes fell upon in a store on Die Bult in Potchefstroom. The store no longer exists but through the years his love of photography continued to grow. Over the years he always had some form of camera around or nearby but it was in 2001 that he bought his first digital camera and he has been in love with the opportunities afforded by digital photography ever since.
Photography is not a career, it is a journey towards an increasing knowledge about the shades of grey as light reflects and shapes the world around us. It affords one the ability to open one’s eyes to see vistas that are diverse, ranging from painful and sorrow scenes to elated moments of the utmost joy.
Francois is easily distracted by the world around him and every day is an opportunity to witness the playful world being caressed by the rays of the sun or some other form of light ranging from the harsh spotlights to the tender softness that touches the face and cheeks of a young girl in a tender way just like a butterfly that tentatively touches the first flowers of spring.
He enjoys working with people on a daily basis and his photographic interests range across a wide field as can be witnessed from his extensive portfolio on this website. Based in the leafy suburb of Queenswood, Pretoria where he has his studio but able to travel throughout Gauteng and the rest of the world.
A couple of questions to Francois:
What are your favourite subjects to photograph?
I have a big soft spot for the world we live in and that presents me with ample opportunity to record a small part of the richness that abounds. Weddings allow me to record special moments that occur during the course of a day that flies past at speed often leaving the bride and groom at a loss of words as they experience that special day. Wedding photography is a special form of art and I love making use of my talents to capture those precious moments.
Boudoir sessions present an opportunity to present my clients with a unique selection of special photographs that focus on the natural beauty and feminine grace of women. So often overlooked is the soft natural beauty of subjects that entails a bit of mystery and sensuality.
Portraits of individuals and families offer another unique experience where a moment is frozen in time and a memory is caught and preserved.
Sports photography presents a unique challenge to anticipate and follow the action, trying to record that moment and the emotion that goes with the action.
Wildlife and nature photography opportunities abound in Africa and South Africa and it presents me with visual imagery that touches the soul. The yearning to discover new places manifests itself in my Travel photography as I discover new places and people, looking in from the outside as a stranger presents new opportunities and views that often go unnoticed to those that take the splendor for granted. Macro photography is a discovery of a world and its inhabitants often forgotten but it yields incredible views of a world so small that we tend to overlook it.
People, their emotions and the creative ways in which they interact with the world provide me with endless joy.
What kind of gear do you use?
I make use of a Canon 1DX and Canon 1D MkIV with a selection of Canon professional lenses including 50mm F1.8, 28-70mm F2.8L, 85mm F1.2 L, 24 -105mm F4L, 70-200mm F2.8 L, 100-400mm F4.5 5.6L. A Canon Speedlite 580EX II and a set of Hensel Studio flashes with a wide range of light modifiers.
When the opportunity to take photos in nature, at a wedding or a studio session presents itself I want to be as best equipped as possible to make use of the opportunity as best as possible. A moment occurs but once and it is important to have the best possible gear (camera and lens) and training at hand to record that special moment.
What lens would you recommend to someone starting out?
The best lens one can buy to start with is a 50mm F1.8 for your chosen camera. It is a relatively inexpensive lens that offers great capabilities in low light conditions and it will force the new photographer to think and use his/her feet to compose a shot.
Do you have any training?
I have completed a number of photography courses over the years. These include online courses as well as practical hands on courses with some of the best wedding, studio and boudoir courses. Training in my mind is an ongoing investment and something I enjoy to take part in. It is not only through attending training but also by training other photographers that I learn and discover more.
I practice a lot, I attend numerous courses and invest in books, magazines and online training courses. Apart from that I also make use of online galleries where my work can be criticized and commented on by well known photographers. I am a keen student and enjoy learning and mastering new techniques and will pay someone to work with me or to teach me. It is only through constant practice and hard work that one can develop and grow one’s skill.
What kind of tools do you use for post processing? Explain your workflow.
I use a Macbook Pro and Imac with Photoshop and Lightroom for my post processing work. I prefer to work as closely to a natural look as possible and use Photoshop to enhance the natural beauty rather than to alter reality. Post a session photographs are downloaded and backed up before I start to select the best photos for editing and processing. I only shoot in RAW as it affords me with better quality files to work with that are not compressed. There are also a selection of filters that enable me to provide you with a set of unique and beautiful images.
Why are your rates so expensive?
I believe that my rates are fair for my time, the investment I make in learning and mastering my specific genre and style and the equipment and post processing tools and effort that I offer. My clients are happy to pay a professional photographer to record their special moments and to obtain high quality images to cherish for years to come. My services and the experience I offer my clients are cherished by those who appreciate the finer things in live and who do not hesitate to invest in works of art.
You took some photos at an event can you please mail me some?
As soon as you have sent me payment I would be more than willing to let you have the prints. People often ask for photos or digital copies of files and can become rather upset if I do not want to give these away for free. The problem though is that by giving these away for free I am unable to earn a living. Pick’nPay does not give groceries away and the doctor does not dispense with a script or treatment without payment. Please consider that and be mindful of that when making requests.