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Martin Osner on the dynamics of photography



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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GOING PLACES:The singer has a new offering

CharmaGal is back with a bang. After a hiatus, following her hit Jabu last year, she has released an all Setswana thriller album just in time for festive.

The local music sensational is back into her stardom feat, the album brings yet another set of tracks in her 8-track album titled Lekgamu la bananyana. Touch Records in Gaborone officially released the album this past week.

During a media brief held at Botswana Craft in Gaborone this past week, CharmaGal revealed that she has been working hard on the album thus having high expectations on it. According to Charma, Lekgamu la bananyana is a notch high than her previous music deliverables.

Speaking to Vibe a day before boarding a plane to the United Kingdom where she was performing alongside South Africa’s BabesWodumo, she said that what makes her unique is staying to her craft. The Mmokolodi hit-maker said that it is giving what you are to the people that then opportunities arise for artists.

“People need to stay true to their uniqueness, this new album represent my style of delivering music, that represents my key and my melody that is why it is easy for people to react to it,” shared CharmaGal.

She also said that piracy is a concern in the music fraternity, adding that she has targets she has set for herself in regards to the number of copies she wants to sell on the album. “New technology remains a mystery for us artists, in a day after the release of the album, people will be she sharing out the music through Whatsapp and other social media networks and that is amazing.”

Meanwhile, a week after the release of the album, track 3, dubbed Banyana, is driving CharmaGal fans crazy. The song has already been played on various radio stations in the country. In the song, CharmaGal says that she does not need to get to work because she has hangover garnered from the weekend. **The album is available at most music stores.

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Shamele drops solo kwaito offering

Irene Shone



omolemo Thepa aka Shamele says kwaito music has taken out the artiste in him and he plans to elevate the genre as time goes. The 27-year-old recently released his first-ever solo single dubbed, ‘Dula S’tilo’.

He tells Vibe that the new single was actually written to honour the president of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi as he sat on the presidency throne. He explains that he has been in the music industry for the past six years, featuring other artistes but decided to [produce his solo work this year.

“I have written this song and composed it to dedicate it to Masisi as a way of welcoming him to his new position,” he says.Shamele is confident that having worked with a variety of well-established artistes has given him light and direction to grow the Kwaito genre. Asked why he chose Kwaito of all other genres, he said that Kwaito is unstoppable and just needs nurturing.

“I found Kwaito in existence when I was growing up, and I have never come across any boring rhythm of Kwaito music. It is just unstoppable and thus, I want to be associated to it.”
He also shares with Vibe that local talent kept him motivated to also have a dream of becoming a solo artiste.

“The Real Magosi group inspired me to be where I am today together with all the local artistes in general because I embrace local music.” Shamele further says that he takes pride in the fact that he has already performed his song in the president’s presence recently in Moshupa at an event.

He also appreciates the positive feedback that he already has on his new work. Dula S’tilo currently enjoys airplay at Duma Fm, RB1 and RB2. The single was produced at True-African Studios. Shamele says that at the moment, he is focused on building his brand and give his fans and the local music industry the best.

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