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Martin Osner on the dynamics of photography

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Martin Osner is one of the few photographers from around the world who hold the distinguished title of ‘Canon Brand Ambassador’.

“Canon Europe invites professional photographers who shoot on Canon equipment and who feel they will contribute to their brand, to be a Canon Explorer,” shares Osner.

The renowned South African photographer who has taken pictures for more than 25 years states that photography connects us with reality like no other form and he also observes that photography is a dynamic medium that is both an art and a science.

“The camera allows us to alter reality using the dynamics of the lens, together with contrast, colour and depth.” As is the case with all art forms photography has had to change its aesthetic and adapt to new artistic cultures over the years.

There has been a transition from using ‘Film, Polaroid, and now digital; camera and software. “These have allowed for both camera as well as post-production experimentation. Photography is becoming more and more interesting, and now with 3D (photography and printing) things are about to get even more exciting,” shares Osner.

Lately the art form seems engrossed in the latest technologies to the point where critics wonder about the sustainability of photography as an independent art. Osner is adamant that the art will remain true to its form. He observes that people generally use the camera when they want to capture reality as closely as possible; in the case of capturing history and to a ‘lesser degree’ advertising photography.

Despite this he reveals that, “Many artists myself included, take advantage of the camera’s inability to record the scene accurately, and in my opinion it is this that allows for self expression and the creation of art.”

He shares examples of the growth and versatility of photography. “Look at the popularity that photography has drummed up in the high street galleries of major cities. It has become the new kid on the block and has attracted a young contemporary audience.”

Another platform keeping photography relevant is the digital or online medium which has given the art a boost and elevated its popularity in ‘a very short space of time’. The increased competition that came with the rise in technology has not threatened Osner. “With new photographers coming into the fold the cream still rises to the top, so the best will just get better, and this is exciting,” he adds with confidence.

Osner practices fine art but also enjoys most aspects of photography and likes to explore abstract photography. “I also enjoy hand-controlled art techniques like image transfers, hand painting of photographs and pinhole photography.” This he explains is the reason why as a subject photography needs to be understood and appreciated.

“Learn the technical craft, know your camera, learn how to use light, the artistic side of composition and design. Engulf yourself in art and the history of art. Visit exhibitions and follow the work of interesting photographers. Practice, practice, practice! Develop a style that is unique to you, and then you will be ready to stand up and be counted. It is one thing to pick up a camera and take a picture, but it is completely another to use the camera to successfully create interesting photography.”

Osner’s passion for his art led him to open his own professional and commercial photography studio more than 20 ago in Pretoria (SA) which he called the National College of Photography, this he says was a period when he was very experimental due to preparing for his lectures and when he started to create his artistic signature look; he was also heavily involved in the advertising industry and getting challenging assignments like creating and re-enacting major oil spills via the camera lens.  

Over the years he has accumulated numerous sentimental images however there are photographs that have stood the test of time and dramatically changed his career line. “One photograph in particular is from my ‘Abandoned Collection’, which I have been working on for about ten years. It was the very first photograph in the collection, of an old car sitting on top of a pole, out in the rural areas of the Free State (SA). This photograph dramatically changed my approach to photography.”

Until this point he had been studio based using controlled lighting and effects. After taking this particular picture he closed down his commercial photography business to force himself out of the studio and to go and shoot in natural light. This commitment and dedication to his craft has paid off in the literal sense.

Thus far the most expensive picture he has sold has been R60 000. “I have done a number of private commissions that have paid well, and in fairness to my clients I would prefer not to divulge pricing. Generally the prints in my gallery are fairly priced, and average around R10 000. The most expensive print sold to date at the gallery is R60 000.”

A cry a lot of artists can relate to is the lack of a dependable consumer market for art or fine art including photography. Even Osner has observed this trend on home ground through the sales of his images. “I have a stronger European and American audience than South African. I think this is because photography is so well received internationally.”  

Osner who thanks his wife, children and God for his gift and supporting him 100 percent is a firm believer in mentorship; both receiving and giving. He mentors The Midweek Sun photographer, Pako Lesejane and has four mentors he looks up to; two photographers and two painters.

“The great Ansel Adams for his majestic black and white photography. He was a technical genius. I base a lot of what I do on his “zone system” for exposure and contrast control. Henri Cartier-Bresson, a brilliant photographer for his interesting approach in portraiture and natural light documentary photography.

Henri Matisse the great painter, for his bold use of colour, and Jackson Pollock the crazy abstract painter.”

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BOSJE elevates jazz education in Botswana

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CHANGING LIVES: Music has the power to empower youth.

The Botswana Society of Jazz Education (BOSJE) will host the 9th annual International Jazz Day for the 3rd time this year at the Maitisong theatre. According to the founding chairperson Akhutlheng Mogami, the society was formed to create a platform for jazz musicians and aspiring jazz musicians to grow and share ideas and even have their work documented.

“As a society, we have realized a need for jazz education. There is also no documentation about jazz in Botswana, which makes it difficult for both the teachers and students when it comes to teaching and learning about jazz as there is no local content to refer to. It is also for purposes of funding applications to run workshops and host festivals and exchange programs that we needed to have a legally registered nonprofit making entity as this one,” she said.

BOSJE was officially registered on the 31st of August 2015 with the registrar of societies and some its objectives include to ensure the growth of Jazz in Botswana and development of jazz education; to build jazz community by advancing education and research; to document, preserve and archive our Botswana jazz heritage; to promote skills development and performance through jazz camps, exchange programs and jazz shows and festivals, and to also develop new audiences.

In January 2017 the society formed a youth jazz big band (Big Bands). Mogami noted that they managed to bring together young people from all walks of life to teach them about jazz and how to play jazz. Since then, the band has been growing substantially both musically and professionally. She noted that The Big Bands in Botswana project which aims to put together jazz bands in schools and communities all over the country. “The project brings together young people and teaches them to play music in an ensemble set up.

The project commenced on the 15th of February 2019 with the primary objective of this project is to bring positive social change through music. Children who are involved in this music program receive a music education, which we believe will lead them to improved overall academic success. The children will also learn the essential skills needed for the 21st century workforce.

In addition to that, these children will also have a platform to exercise their creativity, and all this will in turn grow their confidence.” The band has graced the Masire foundation annual gala dinner, International Jazz Day, Annual De Beers sight holders Dinner, and Gaborone toastmasters among others.

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Diva Vebrok and Benson Phutego drop love sin gle

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NEW OFFERING: Benson & Diva Vebrok’s listening session rocked

Diva Vebrok and Benson Phutego recently released their joint single titled Ha o ka leba. The two launched the song at a listening session at Greenberry Gardens. Music artists including Nono, Franco and promoters PP and Gloria Dzwikiti as well as other industry role players flocked the venue to listen to what the two have to offer and they were not disappointed.

The single is good quality – from the melody, lyrics, rthyme and production. The divine diva Diva Vebrok adds a golden touch with her smooth voice while the bold and eloquent Phutego’s voice complements hers as he breaks out into poetry.

Director of ceremony at the listening session Berry Heart also kept the crowd galvanised throughout the night with her energetic spirit. President of Music Promotions Zenzele Hirschfield expressed appreciation for the support rendered to the two and highlighted that it is important for artists to support one another. “I am honoured to see that that many people in the local music industry have come out to support their fellow artists.

This means a lot and we really need to unite as artists all the time,” she said. She sang praises for Diva Vebrok who she said was passionate and hard working. “She is more than just an artist but also an influencer and entrepreneur. She is one of the women in the music industry who work hard and never give up on their craft,” she said.

Phutego impressed the crowd with his words of wisdom as he appreciated being featured by Ve brok on the single. “It was great working with her as she is passionate and hard working. Women are the pillars of society and as such they should be respected. I have no regrets about this project because I am confident that we produced a great love song.”

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