Zambian-born John Robinson has been focusing on the world through his camera lens as a social documentary photographer for 18 years, picturing aspects of life in Sub-Saharan Africa. He captures some of the ‘goings on’ of people in a series of portraits taken along the South Beach beachfront of Durban. He documents his subjects against the ebb and flow of the ever-changing sand and sea.
In this work he has gone back to using black and white film, rather than digital. John takes photographs with a small rangefinder camera instead of the larger DSLR camera. He feels that this makes him, as a photographer, less ‘visible’ and keeps him more humanly ‘in touch’ with his subject. Photographing with an analogue camera he feels less tethered to technology and more free to just take pictures of ‘what is’.
John Robinson is a social documentary photographer and stroke survivor living in South Africa, these are his own words and images.
South Beach is a part of the City of Durban’s longest uninterrupted stretch of beach sand. The City of Durban is on the eastern seaboard of South Africa and the people here are washed with the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. To the north of this stretch of sand are beaches with cafe society hang outs. To the south there is a pier with the upmarket Moyo’s Restaurant at it’s end and the uShaka Marine World complex and the private surf and sea clubs of the Vetches Beach area. Between these northern and southern affluent areas lies this long uninterrupted and relatively undeveloped stretch of beach sand. It’s along this beach that some of the ‘scatterlings’ of Africa come to be alone, sleep, pray, walk, swim, surf, work, commune with another, or just the sea sand and water.
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