Jacques Weyers is a South African fashion photographer based in Cape Town. Jacques weyers talks about his inspiring journey from the streets of a rough neighborhood growing up to heading to London to get some professional experience and back to Cape Town where Jacques weyers continues to photograph is the rough neighborhoods.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in the rural Transkei region in the Eastern Cape of South Africa which has had a significant impact on my work. I had an English Mom and Afrikaans Dad and a Xhosa nanny speaking three languages in one sentence not knowing the difference. It was only when I had to go to school that my family moved to a city so that I could grow up in a ’normal’ situation.
How did you get started into photography and when did you decide that it is what you want to do as a profession?
I think I was more pushed in to pursuing photography as a career by friends who loved what I was doing as a candid snapper. I loved the camera but come from an environment where it wasn’t really a career choice available. You either worked in the bank or became a policeman. After enough encouragement I moved to London to find work as an assistant as there just weren’t any photographers where I was from. I approached photographers in London to assist and spent a good few years assisting and learning. The first time I assisted a fashion photographer I knew that was what I wanted to do. I always knew I wanted to be in Africa so when I felt I was ready to shoot professionally I came home. Thankfully I have never looked back.
Who has been the biggest influence on your work and do you have any favourite photographers?
To be honest I have always tried to not be influenced by other photographers. I certainly appreciate a good image and photographers who create as a whole but never chose an absolute favourite.
How does a typical work day look like for you?
I spend a lot of time on research and planning. Everything from locations, finding the correct models. Deciding what I am going to shoot were and when. I am influenced by my surroundings. And because of that I actually live in Woodstock Cape Town an area. Which is notorious for being known as a “gangland”. The streets are where I get my most inspiration and Woodstock is the perfect environment.
Shoot days are all about executing a very carefully worked narrative planned down the last detail. I also can’t spend too much time in one area otherwise my team is at risk. We need to get in, shoot our shot and get out before anybody can plan anything on us.
I have been mugged twice after taking two long on specific street corner so planning is everything.
What do you love and dislike most about your profession?
I love everything and dislike absolutely nothing. Truth.
What do you like to portray through your photography?
I aim to tell the story of the times we are living in, bringing an expansiveness of thought to my work, creating a kind of living archive. I try convey a special connection between subject and location, resulting in thought-out, meaningful and personal images. With my photography I try telling a story capturing scripted yet candid moments in real life, challenging perceptions of physical beauty and celebrating the beauty of authenticity. I strive to push the boundaries of the traditional notions of physical beauty, striving for realness beyond what is considered desirable by societal norms.
In your opinion, what makes your photographs stand out from the rest?
Im not really trying to stand out to be honest and I am not really sure that it does. I’m just trying tell my own story with what I have in front of me. I suppose my environment is different to say Europe or the states and that makes it stand out differently.
We have never been to SA but we guess its a mixture of cultures. How has it impacted your work?
Absolutely. Its a huge hot pot of cultures but remains Africa as whole which is the entire impact on my work. The people, colours, patterns and grittiness is everything to me.
Many people dream to be successful photographers but its a very competitive field. What has been the secret to your success and what would you advice to those trying to enter the field?
Its a very good question and I think very open to interpretation. And of course what aspect of photography they would want to get into but from my point of view. They should always remain true to themselves and who they are. Don’t try be somebody else. Find your aesthetic and stick to it, don’t copy and stay humble. Make clients come to you for what you do and you will always succeed. They also need to realize you can only shoot the way you see things and not shoot through a client’s eyes.
What has been the best advice given to you?
Jacques weyers assisted a photographer who gave me the best advice I have ever received. What are the rules of photography………..? Answer: There are none.
Also, my father: Imagine creativity is the sun! The closer you get to it, the darker your shadow can become. Stay close enough but don’t let your shadow become dark.
If money and resources were not a problem and you could work on any shoot idea, what would you like to shoot?
I would take the most beautifully curated collections from Africa and drive through the continent from the Cape to Cairo in a bus shooting a story in all the most beautiful places we came across.
What do you look forward to achieving in the future?
I look forward to taking as many new and up and coming African designers. As I could find from the most rural areas of Africa. And shoot their best pieces telling their stories and exposing them to the world. They are super talented, creative and function in some of the hardest environments in the world.