Sorry for the break in transmission

22 Nov

For those of you that can watch the show, you’ll know I have been called “the granny”. Well ermmm yes that is what I am. It is a title I wear with the greatest pride. I know it was said as a derogatory statement, but I don’t take it as a critiscm, I take it as a compliment. Many of my friends and others in the world would give everything for their children to receive the blessing of a child. I know what my blessings are. And this is a big one.

This week I became a granny for the second time as Jamie Harley Mchugh made his appearance into our lives.

So I am sorry for the break in transmission with stories on the blog….. grannydom is wonderful.


Geez that was long….

14 Nov

Well if you are still reading this I am impressed. Man it was long to type let alone long to read. I hope the people still reading have enjoyed it though.

My diary got less and less of my time from this episode on. We still had plenty of time. We still waited around a lot, but a lot of team chat and strategizing occurred.

So tonight is the second episode and I can’t wait.

Is there anything you want to know that I haven’t told you ? If you could ask one behind-the-scenes question what would it be ? Ask away!

PS. The reason there are very few behind-the-scenes photos is because we were asked NOT to take photos on set. I did take a few on my phone as I worked out that plenty of people were. These I will share with you 🙂

Eviction day 1

13 Nov

4am – barp barp barp. The alarm on my phone rudely awakes a really cool dream. Is it eviction day for me? I know I haven’t got an award winner in the bag, but there is so much more to this whole process.

I have heard that we are going to our new base-pen. The abandoned Orlando power station in Soweto. A few of the contestants are a little apprehensive actually going into Soweto. This is a plus for me. I have photographed in townships almost all of my adult life. I am comfortable with the place and the amazing people. Bring it on !
As we are climbing into the jeeps to leave the studio, Ian asks me if I would not ride with them as they want to talk team. Pierre cottons onto the team ting and INSISTS we travel together. I lucked out !

Wow. Strategy. Strategy. Strategy. Mbali asks “ who wants to go? “ Tasmin says “me” . A relief. I instantly feel happy that perhaps I won’t go after first after all.

The rules of the judging are winning photo and a winning collage. The winning team gets immunity for this week, and the winning photographer gets immunity for the following task.

We pull up under the towers. They are imposing. They are an iconic beacon on the Soweto skyline.
It is cold. Winter seems to be flying in. It is dark. Never realised I would see so many sunrises in a row.
Kobus calls us together “ There is NO wandering around today. This place is dangerous. There are MASSIVE holes in the ground. You will simply disappear.”

So the Soweto pen is gonna be a tough thing whilst we are at our new base. The room we are in – our pen – has no glass in the windows. There are humungos high open “doors”. Paint hanging off the walls in sheets. It is obvious that some homeless people sleep in here. The remnant ashes show us that this pen could possibly be someone’s home. Broken glass scatters the floor. I love the graffiti on the walls. Street art at its best.
Tim sets up a time lapse camera and we all watch him do this. I chat to him. He is a great guy. Well spoken. Knowledgeable . Kind. Softly spoken.

So the agenda for today we don’t know. No-one knows. I don’t even know if the crew really know.
“Sam, interview”. My heart rate increases. It is still a hard thing to do. The problem is Les, the writer, asks a question. We are supposed to repeat the question in the answer. It is so foreign to me. I guess if I was a beauty queen in Miss South Africa I would have this down pat. But I’m not. “So, Sam. What is your strategy?” I am suppose dto answer “ My strategy going forward is….” But instead I bumble along with some words that I bet don’t even go together. “Did your team get the shot?” “Oh yes, definitely” I say with an air of confidence that belies my true gut feel. The words and the truth are actually far aprt.

Pierre is adamant that his great hero shot is the one. A hero he shot lying on the ground. I ask where is the emotion ? He is a fireman – Kak photo. We share our photos. We create a story with our collage. A beginning, middle and end. Opening and closing. At last we collaborate, as a team should. Just as we are comfortable with our decisions Kobus comes into the pen. “Listen up” he shouts. We all gather and listen intently. He explains away everything we had thought was the “rules”. We don’t need a story. We could all have the same subject in the photos we choose if we want. What now? We spin again. We simply decide amongst us that we must choose what we want to choose.

Lab soon. We have no idea how long we are going to have in the lab. We decide Mblai must call the time to us. We decide to divide up the time in thirds. Example if we got an hour we would have 20mins to download and choose. 20mins to fix up and 20mins to decide a winner.

“Exposure” lab time. We walk in to a part of the building. The sun streams in the abandoned building. It’s a bit weird. There is a round table with 5 computers on it. Branded in the middle with Digicape. The chairs are wire frame chairs that definitely not make you feel like you want to it in them for long.

The cameras are everywhere. They will be shooting this from beginning to end. No stopping. No edits. Real time. Let’s go.

You have 30minutes. Oh wow. There goes our 20-20-20. So its 10-10-10. OMG that’s no time at all. A big digital dispaly starts counting down.

I start downloading my photos. I go round the table to make sure everyone can download theres. All the new equipment (Macs) and Nikon nx2 software can be very confusing. Paul is a graphic designer so he certainly doesn’t need any help. Pierre can plod along. I couldn’t be bothered at this stage. Mbali and Tasmin need help. Guess who panics? Yip. You got that one right. “My computer is frozen “ “No” “No” “this can’t happen” He looks around like the crew are going to intervene. They aren’t. He is trying to help Tasmin as well. I tell him to “calm down Pierre” I help Mbali to open her image and as she only wants to crop her photo hers will be quick. She leads well. She talks clearly to everyone.

Tick. Tock.

5 minutes left. “let us all go around the table and choose the photo you think best “ Pierre is saying “ It HAS to be mine” “It shows everything – hero – vertigo – emotion” . I disagree. Paul disagrees. But time is UP. We hadn’t decided but we walk away. Kobus comes to ask us if we actually agreed. We hadn’t as Paul and I didn’t like pierres. Mbali says “yes. We chose Pierres” I smile. Cool !

We walk out. Man it was manic again.

The pen becomes too small for me. I stand outside chatting to the make-up artist Heather. She is lovely. She is excited about the whole process but has been in the industry for a long time, We chat about arb stuff, which is right up my ally !

We go off and watch the bungy jumpers off the Orlando power station towers. 3-2-1- OH man adrenaline surges through my body watching. Imagine doing it!

We are called randomly after lunch to go in to the building in our teams and graffiti our names on the wall. It feels like we are really making our mark here now. A physical sign – we were here !

Back to the pen. Wait. Wait.

I Watch everyone reacting to the tension in different ways. Ian pacing. Tasmin sleeps. Judy chatters away. A few groups of people form in a circle of chairs or a group outside. Much of the debate is about what happens next. The unknown is the hardest thing here. Not the outcome unknown. The unknown about the process. It is cols. I am not dressed warm enough. I feel fairly comfortable as if we are up, Mbali will call Tasmin. We are lucky to have the “joker” in our pack.

The other 2 leaders, Ian and Johnson are nervous. Who do they take up ? I am so happy to not be the one to do this tonight.

We’re going in.

Walk ins : This way. Then that. The jimmy jib doing its job. Getting all the angles the cameras need to get to produce an awesome product at the end of the day.

The set is a round table where the judges sit. There are 3 empty chairs facing them on the other side of the table. At the back of them is different colour lounge chairs. For the contestants.

Pierre says “ are you always this calm”? I am nervous, but I know that my head is theoretically not on the block tonight.

Craig tells us that the judges have deliberated. NONE of the chosen images are good enough to win this week. Huh ? we are all confused. We are now ALL up for elimination.

Our photos are on the table. I am wondering how my photo came out. How it looks in the collage. Mbali, Ian and Johnson are up. They have to in turn explain why the chosen shots were chosen. We can hear nothing. Bryan has certainly a lot to say. They don’t sound impressed.

Oh wow.
They say whose photo they felt were the best in each team. Team Aperture Kwenas photo. Our team – Pauls. Optical – Brendon. I am so very happy for him.

Now who are the leaders going to bring up with them. Mbali was always going to take Tasmin. She wanted to go. Johnson says Myles. Wow. Ian takes Brendon. I am blown away. Has Ian just committed suicide ? The judges chose Brendon’s photo as the winning shot in the judging. My heart is beating . I have been giving Brendon a lift each day and he felt Ian was going to choose him. I advised him not to stress, Now he stands there.

I am sad. The whole process is harder than I thought it would be. Fighting back the tears stinging my eyes. Who is gonna go. We know Tasmin will go. But who is going to go from the other teams ?
The judges are very harsh about the photos. About the lack of emotion. They feel Pierre’s “ shows no action. He could be tying his shoes”. They don’t like the others either. Lola’s photo which is a smoke filled photo with a fireman walking away they say “looks like he is exhausted”

They start with our team. “Mbali why did you choose tasmin? ” “We had to do everything for her “. Tasmin isn’t gonna lie down though and she angrily tells the judges “ I took my own photos” . Bryan looks at Mbali and says “ Mbali, your shot shows a man standing there” “ You have just taken your last shot.” Omg Mbali is gone. She tries to argue. To ask why ? But nothing is going to help. She walks out in disgust. We are all shocked.

Now on to the next teams. Myles photo is good. I can’t hear. Man it is frustrating. I am think Ian. Why Brendon? He is no threat! Ian is asked the question and his answer was “He isn’t a team player”

I am sad. He had told me this morning on te way in that he was scared this may happen as Ian and lola had stayed after the green screen day and they had called him and told him they were deleting a whole load of his images off his camera as he isn’t there with them.

Next thing I know the judges are saying to Brendon. “You aren’t the sharp shooter”

Oh wow now the tears flow freely. My heart breaks for him. He is such a sweet guy !

They walk the walk of shame and we all follow. That’s it. That’s it for Mbali and Brendon and we all have bought another day.

Kids your wish is my command “please don’t go off first “

We mingle amongst everyone. We are all a bit shell shocked. I am raw with emotion. This process is only going to get worse.

People chat to the judges. Trying to get as much out of them as they can. I almost couldn’t be bothered. My photo was NOT great. So there is no point getting the judges opinion on it. I am grateful to still be here. 2 members gone. 13 left.

It’s getting tough.

An easy day

13 Nov

9pm call. What ? Is that right ? I am so excited. Sleep, sleep. We can sleep in.

Our pen today is 2 cement tables at the studio. The sun is beating down, but noone really notices. We chat up a storm. We analyse the task. Try to think how we are going to choose one photo each. How we are going to create our collage.

Today is green screen day. We are going to shoot our intros to the show.

Yesterday we were told about ten times NOT to wear anything green. No Green writing on our clothes or in our shoes. The crew went on and on. My school girl brain kicked in and I suggested to everyone that we should all bring something green to wear. Kobus will have a fit ☺ Everyone complied and we all had a green something. Let the fun begin.

Mbali arrives with her little girl. A sweet little baba, but I bet the producers are not going to be happy about this !
We are summonsed to the boardroom to go through the software we are going to use on the show. It is Nikon’s Capture NX2 software. I have never even heard of it.

Ryan from Nikon is simply going to introduce it to us. Not teach us. But many of the contestants are panicking. They want him to teach them the package. Like click here, click there. But the more ryan says this is an overview the more he is asked indepth questions. What is wrong with these people? Don’t they listen? But as you can imagine the BIGGEST panicker in the 15 people’s name starts with a P. I ask him to please never have a red bull.
I am confident I will handle it tomorrow. I have that kind of brain and think I will be ok.

One by one we are asked to go and do our intro. Everyone puts on their green shirt as they go in. Kobus and the rest of the crew just laughed ! It went down well.

The green screen was simple. “Stand here. Turn in and look at the camera” “smile” “don’t smile”. “thanks”

1pm home time. I feel like I have been let out of school. No pen for me today.

At home my phone rings. Its Pierre. How did he even get my number? He is panicking about the software. He has tried to download it from the internet., but no luck. He then drove through to Nikon in midrand and got a trial version. He asks me to bring my laptop in the next day. ( I use Apple) The question is : Should I ? Is he opposition or not ? I don’t actually have the software on my laptop. I could download it I suppose. So I do, but I haven’t decided if I should share that with others or not. I spend 10 mins looking at it. Its easy enough. I am happy.

the real task

12 Nov

“Aperture. You’re up”

OMG my heart jolts like a defribulator machine has just been placed on my chest. We’re next. Time is ticking loud in my ears. We huddle again rethinking and rediscussing what, when and how we can do our task. Remember the brief. Vertigo.

10 mins later they return. Huh ? What? Is that it ? We quickly work out there was a technical hitch. They were returned to the pen. Off they go again. We wait. Nervous. Wow ! Crazy unknown thoughts are running through my head at break neck speed.

Myles comes through the door. Smiling. Quiet. Andrea and the others following. Awesome they whisper. Awesome. “Can’t say anything though” They sit. I can see the adrenaline running through their bodies. I can feel it running through mine.

“Exposure !” My heart rate must be close to 200bpm. I know. I can hear it in my ears. Or is it Mbali’s or Pauls or Pierres from the other side. I am totally deaf to all noise. I walk behind the crew onto the set.

Craig meets us. The brief : Heroes. The sub brief: Vertigo. Our task is about to start. “….As a team…. You have to work as a team…you can split into 2 but that’s it. Let’s go and do the intro. “How long do we have ?” I ask. “Until it’s over” is the answer. OMG. How long is that ?

“We start to huddle and chat but everyone is panicked. W equickly relasie that someone needs to go up the stairs. It’s the best place to be. The sub brief is vertigo. We gotta go. I know I want to go, but its high. Physically my fitness could get me. I say to Pierre “ both of us can’t go ! One of us has to stay down.” To be honest I don’t know why I felt that but I did. Is uppose to help with Mbali and tasmin. In case they needed camera help etc. Pierre says “ Well I am going !”
And your task starts… now…” The loud barp barp of the fire engine is frightening. The chaos is all encompassing. The firemen shout tasks and checks to each other. Like a well oiled machine. We run. Scattering like rice dropped on the floor.

click. click. click.

Pierre and Paul have gone up.

I keep thinking of Craig’s words “ you have to stay as a team”. “Tasmin how u doing ? “ “Mbali where are you “ I talk constantly as if this shows team “ keep shooting” “look for your angles” Panic. Panic. Shoot. Where’s the sun? What settings? Technical stuff actually went totally out the window for me. If only I could stop and take a breat. I know what I should be doing but the panic in my soul is not letting me. They could say “stop at any moment” I think. I know in my heart and soul taking 200 photos a minute is not going to help my cause but I can’t help myself.

It’s weird, cos for all the noise my ears feel muffed. The doef doef of my heart is deafening. I am shooting like a crazy woman. Like this is the last chance I will ever have to photograph another thing.

The crew are everywhere with their cameras. Sometimes in your face, but I am already starting to see through them. I am already not bothered whether my ass is in the air or that my muffin top could be muffening.

I suddenly think. Hey they gonna get the ladder to go up. I can hear Pierre screaming and shouting in the building. His voice echoing all the way from the top.

Gotta shoot this. I ask Mbali and Tasmin if they wanna climb on the fire engine. I am team, right ? (Don’t wanna be like Pierre taking all the good spots !) they both are nervous. I’m gonna do it. As I start to climb up the stairs some shouts. I am petrified I am not allowed up there. But after all it was just another shout, not at me. Oh I am being pathetic. I stay up on the fire engine as the ladder is being hoisted to the top of the building. I shoot. As the fireman goes up I shoot and shoot. Vertigo ! Remember the brief. Pierre and Paul are hanging off the edge of the building at the top. The fireman gets to the top and I wait and wait. I think about changing lenses! My heartbeat settles down.

I know I haven’t got great shots. I know I have lots of shots. But don’t think anything really amazing has happened. The rescue of the victim is happening. But it’s all at the top. Regretting not going up. I am thinking about where are they going to go when they come down. Thoughts speeding through my brain. Mbali Tasmin and I are together again. Waiting. nervously chattering. But it is clearly pointless to take any more photos at this stage cos nothing is happening. The victim is slowly brought to the ground.

The ground team hit the floor running. “BP. STAT.”
“ Metal on the floor” “ RE-sus” “Re-sus”.
Short demanding commands that get my heart rate up again.

All 5 of us are trying to shoot round one stretcher and someone is always in your shot. Pierre lies down in the front. His screaming and panic has gotten to me. He is really over the top but I cannot say anything. Paul is quiet but certainly doing his thing. Mbali is trying to lead us but is a kind soul and doesn’t want to be demanding. Tasmin simply clicks every now and then.
“Give us all a chance Pierre” I scream. “When you are finished. MOVE!”

High fives all round. The emergency is over. The suspect lived. Task one is over. Phew. Manic.

We chatter very excitedly amongst us. I wanna know what happened at the top. We share our experiences with each other. It was intense.

Interveiw time. “Did you get the shot ?” “ I hope so”. “ Why did you separate yourself from the team?” Now if you knew me you would know that I am totally team. I would never separate myself. Never intentionally do anything against the rules. I am a little woes like that. “ Did you feel like chickens without heads ?” “No” I respond. “We had a plan” . what ? I can’t believe I just said that. I can’t believe I said we were all doing what we had planned to do when I knew that we all scattered.

We walk away. I feel defeated. I know my shots are crap. I know. But still. I am worried cos the interviewers crucified me. Or so I think. We are instructed to not show the others our photos but we can talk about our task but not show them what we got.

This is hard. Cos are you honest with the other teams ? Say you did awesome ? To psyche them out or say actually our task was crap. We had no fire. We had not much to photograph that was in anyway amazing. Flat light. And simply manic. Should I tell the others that Pierre is a panicker. Could they use it against us in the future?

I call our team to one side. The criticsm for not staying together is really bothering me. I want everyone to know what they said and the response. Yes please believe me I am shaken by it. Hind sight is easy to see that it is no big deal but right now I think OMG what were they on about ? A door opens. The sound guy comes out and says
“ should I get a camera for this “ ? Damn. Now I wonder if he will go and tell the crew. Will they use it against us. Ok so the paranoia sets in.

It’s done. Back to the pen. No chairs. No table. No food. No drink. Just the pen. We sit on the floor.

“Team optical” your turn. We watch from a distance. Amazing, they have fire. Backdraft. Man we bummed out choosing vertigo.
The day must end. I am tired. A 16 hour day has just caught up with me.

Time. Ticks. Task one.

12 Nov

4am again. Wow. This is hectic.

How do I feel? Where are we going ? Nervous ! Anticipation. Am I good enough ? will I get the shot?

We pile into the Jeeps. The anticipation and excitement reminds me of being a kid going on school camp. No idea where we are traveling, we try and guess along the way.

We pull into a fire station, South of Joburg. The mist is unbelievable. It’s almost like a blanket shrouding the place. Is it a sign? Beware. All will be revealed soon.

Our pen this morning is a gazebo at the back of the building. Noone is to move away from the covering whilst we are in “holding”. We really are all a little pensive, but the chatter continues. We are all speculating. It’s quite funny to hear everyones version of what may occur.

A helicopter hovers. We can hear it but through the mist it’s very difficult to see it. This is the film crew – they are wanting to shoot the scene and land but the mist is making this impossible. Wow the helicopter does impress us !
Once the mist lifted we started to shoot the first link in. Drive in – and out and in – and out. Eventually we get it right ! We are issued with new team shirts.
Team Exposure – White. Team optical – yellow. I say to Lola “ you look like Maya the bee”. That term stuck for her for most of the show ! Team Aperture – red.

Craig says : “ your task is heroes”. He goes into a well -rehearsed dialogue about unsung heroes. The things heroes do. But here’s the twist . “Aperture do you want Inferno, Vertigo, or backdraft as your sub-task?”
They chatter and so do we. Pierre, in his usual takeover way is almost screaming – panicked in a whisper – Vertigo Vertigo. Trying with all his might insist to Mbali that we do Vertigo through mental telepathy. Johnson chooses Inferno. Wow I would have so gone for that ! It’s our turn next. We do an on-camera chat and Vertigo is ours. (clearly the osmosis works) I can see team optical, with Ian as a leader is a bit disappointed that they didn’t get any choice in this.

So off we go back to the pen. We chatter in our teams now – wild, loudat times, whispers at times we don’t want the other teams to hear. Discussions trying to work out our strategy. What represents vertigo? Where will it be? Will they use the ladders ? or what ?

We have no idea how long we will be in the pen. I feel like a cow in a fenced in field waiting to be called for milking duty. Listening for the whistle. The only thing is the purple cows are being c alled first not the black and white cows.

People are pacing, chatting, biting their nails. Such different ways of dealing with the stress. Ian goes totally into himself. Working on his laptop. Myles is pacing up and down, like a Cheetah in a cage, Ipod earphones blasting into his head, removing all possible thoughts of the task that lies ahead . Mbali goes off with her cousin Ceya, round the side of the building. He is a crew member. Is he giving her insider info I wonder? In fact I am doing a lot of wandering about things. It is amazing how paranoid you can get in such a short space of time. However perhaps any info she may gets she may share with us, as her team members. Maybe it’s good, maybe not. Perhaps some of the “fed” info from crew is to send us off on another tack totally. Oh I dunno. Pen life is not treating me mentally well.

Judy sleeps.

Tasmin sleeps.

I chatter then pull myself away. Firstly cos it gets too much and secondly cos I want to keep up my diary.
Technically I know my stuff, but I wonder in this fast paced changing environ of photojournalism with an unknown light source etc I am wondering if auto is the way to go. I never use auto but maybe I simply should.
The equipment we have is a Nikon d5000. For me it is barely adequate. It’s like getting a 1300 no power-steering car after driving a mercedes e-class. It will still get you there but man with a lot less style. I feel jibbed.
Wow the days are long. A 4am start makes it feel like you have had a full day by 12. The pen feels like it is getting smaller. Many people in my face. Renelle’s sweet excited chatter is constant. Its amazing how nerves can make some go quiet and some louder.

I hold a few conversations with members from all teams. Vague kind of conversations. Nothing deep or meaningful. I can see some people wonder why I am chatting to memebers from the other team. I am so not gonna stick to one team. Simply cos I think some of the other people are nice, and not everyone in my team is nice ! and who knows I need to work out the others too cos we will merge one day and where will I be if I only get to know my current team.

For now I want peace and quiet. Breathe in. Breathe out. Chew the cud.

The pen is dirty. Hot. LOUD. Move away, I keep saying to myself.. But I don’t want to miss something important. Bryan, the judge comes into the pen. People surround him like bees to a honeypot. I think to make themselves known to him, but also to hear what he has to say. Pierre goes into go mode. How much do you get paid ? What are your budgets? How do I get to where you are ? He speaks lous and in a panic. Others, like Brendon really wants to learn and he sits there and listens. Absorbing the answers to the questions.

Bryan’s extensive experience is evident. He is proud of the work he produces and shows us some of the images explaining the shots. Nice to hear and I am amazed how he shares so freely. He certainly knows he is good. Which isn’t a bad thing ! I think his photography does stand for itself.

Unfortunately though I am not the type of person that idolises or places people on a pedestal simply on name or for the fact that they are famous. I like people. Real, honest, normal people. Famous or not. Therefore I would chat to Bryan as a person, whose work is great. Not as a God to be bowed to. Others shove him straight on the pedestal and look deeply into his eyes. Perhaps osmosis will work!

The jostling for a good position amongst contestants is still happening. It reminded me of a nursery school class where a group of 4 year olds stand at the teachers feet. One shoving his arm over the other to move him back to get right in front of the teacher.

Time. Ticks.

When are we going to do our task The day is hot. The pen is sweaty and anxious. Pierre sits with Tasmin. Setting up her camera into all sorts of customised modes. She sits there looking at him with a blank look. I think we all did ! We all now know Pierre is technical. Terms like Customised white balance, calibrated to the endth degree is important when you have the backlight of the sky against the fireman’s boots. Yeah . Ok !

Ticking. Time.

intro day

11 Nov

Night before : Sleep. I need sleep. I have to pack a bag for the next day. Headache tablets. Lipstick. Should I take a pillow ? Into bed. I set my alarm for 2.45. But my head is buzzing. Can I sleep? Lets see. 3am the alarm rudely awakes me. I gotta get up and go. Wow can I do this for a possibility of 6 weeks? I really don’t know.

Rush. Rush. Shower. Hair. Makeup. Go off to pick up Brendon. Sweet soft spoken Brendon.

We reach the studios and are piled into the Jeeps. Off we go – on a mystery tour to the East of Jhb. We are all abuzz as to what we are doing for the day. We are all anxious to know. And each of us make up our own story. This was to become the norm. Its amazing how 15 people can have such vivid imaginations.

We arrive at an abandoned set in Boksburg long before sunrise. It was a old railway carriage erection plant. Massive metal structures. We were all amazed at this place for photography. Massive lights were set up and the place became a film set in the matter of minutes.

Many of the contestants are still talking up a storm and sharing with all of us how good they are. Or at least sharing the intimate details of all the amazing work they have done.

We have to film the intro. We are told to go and get into the jeeps. No particular groupings. I land up with Ian and Andrea and Johnson and Mbali. We joked about us having a real South African family and Ian I were the Mom and Dad. Didn’t quite realise that from here on forward I would be known as MOM !
“Windows up” screamed Dennis.
“Windows down” screamed Kobus. “Listen to the director”, he let us know.
Right we know who the boss is then!
We practice the drive in to the spot they want us in over and over again. We wait for the sun to be in the exact right spot above the trees. We realise that perfection is going to be the name of the game.

Breakfast is served. A typical catering company on-sets breakfast. Many of the contestants are oohing and ahhing about how awesome it is.

Tasmin is flaunting her stuff and the guys are drooling “ I am on Web news. It’s a site where I read the news in my lingerie!”. Guess what the guys wanna do the minute they get home. Watch her. She works the guys well. She knows it. Wonder if her “ I know nothing” is real? MMMMM I wonder.

After breakfast we go off to another part of the building to do a walk in. The guys are pushing Tasmin to the front and she certainly is loving the attention. We walk in a group of 15 people in a row. There are damn blackjack bushes in the way. And I keep getting covered in them cos we have to keep on walking. Pretending nothing is wrong.

Craig says : “ I am about to tell you what teams you are in” . My mind spins. I wonder who will be in my team? He announces the first team. Lola, Ian, Brendon, Renelle, Judy.
“Team Optical “. The name brings a lot of sniggers. Lola spatters a laugh and almost can’t stop. But we realise that Kobus doesn’t think this is funny so it goes nowhere. It’s a nice team. Experience, Creative, Considered.
“Team Aperture” – Myles, Johnson, Chad, Andrea, Kwena. Wow now that’s a team. Young. Creative. Hip and happening!

My name isn’t called and I am desperately trying to work out who has been left out. My heart sinks. Pierre’s name hasn’t been called. Wow he’s loud. Obnoxiuos and know it all. Man he is in my team. Who else ? I desperately try to remember.
“Team Exposure “ – Pierre, Tasmin, Paul, Sam and Mbali.

We all stand in our groups. Chatting. Our chatter is so forced and with the cameras in our faces it is all forced and weird.

We are asked to go back to “the pen” and await our interview.

I am up for my interview. “who are you?” “ what do you want out of the competition?” “Can you compete with the youngsters?”. I KNEW I was going to be billed in this role. “What do you think of the team ?“

I go back to the pen and everyone does their own thing. Some people read. Some sleep. Some play with their cameras. Some read the manual.

I think about my team. It’s not going to be easy. Pierre, who knows everything 🙂 , to Tasmin who knows nothing (ermm about photography) She could drain us, but so could Pierre in a very different way. The others Paul and Mbali are “normal” people with a passion for photography. I know I can work with them. So maybe majority can rule…..
Wow 4am call time tomorrow again. Hey this is going to kill me. Lucky I have Ian at home cooking and waiting to hear all my stories….. Task one looms, starting tomorrow. Sleep …I need sleep…

Meeting the judges

9 Nov

A “bossy” young girl named Kate comes through to the foyer where we all chittering and chattering and vying for a position. A hush descends for the first time in the hour we have been there. It is almost deafening.

Kate announce : “ Hi contestants. Please follow me…”. We follow her like she was the mama goose with her goslings behind.

As we go in we are handed a Nikon bag heavy with equipment. We wonder what is in there. But we are asked not to look. But Pierre does. He announces to us that it’s a D5000. A disappointment for a few of us that use much higher end cameras on a day to day basis. This is a brand new realease camera and probably awesome for the entry level user, however it is an entry level camera. Yikes. I personally am wondering how i will cope with it!

We arrive in a massive studio. A huge infinity wall painted green. A semi circle ring of economy style chairs. We sit. There is a multitude of people up front. Waiting to chat to us. What will they say ?

Grant – a producer and Kobus – the director welcome us and I get the feeling they are as anxious to get this on the road as we all are.

The moment has come. We are about to meet the team. One by one, group by group , we meet the whole behind-the scenes team.

Firsty the host. Craig Urbani. I think most of the contestants would not know who he is. I do. A friends teenage daughter had a crush on him years ago when he was just out of school and he had agreed to come to her 16th birthday party with a bunch of flowers. I know he is kind and sweet and funny. And talented. One down many to go.

Next are the judges – the people that will decide our fate and time on the show. They come in one by one and sit on the same hard chairs we are sitting on. Funny that. They are so on the “other side” and are celebrities and yet we are all in this together. Some hard seats and all. Josie Borain an international model/photographer. Jenni Button a fashion designer and Bryan Traylor a USA photographer based in South Africa. Mmmm Daunting.

We are set to go. 15 contestants. All sitting there with the hopes and dreams of being THE Sharp Shooter.
We listen like good school kids as he tells us the rules. He explains the format very hesitantly. Keeping referring to Grant and Quinton. He appears to be holding back all the time, nervous of telling us too much. So much can change as it happens I guess.

Questions are flying : “Can I have my haircut during the show ?” “ Can I book shoots on my day off ?” “when you say no branded clothing what does that mean”
But then it quietens down.

“Call time 4am”

No ways ! that means I have to leave home at 3.30. That means I need to be awake at 3. Right !!!

Reality TV is certainly a reality for all of us.

Looking back now I am amazed at how well I described the people on the very first day in my diary. I should really learn to trust my inner instinct.
Onto day one – task one.

One down…

8 Nov

The show was awesome, don’t you think ? ( for those that could watch it) I am biased I know.

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind for the past few weeks for me, but I am going to get the post up about the behind the scenes stuff from the first task.

Photo journalism was the genre. A Fire station Cadet training grounds the place. It was massively explosive and for the contestants it was manic. We had no idea what to expect and when we were told what we were to do we still didn’t really know what was happening.

The term chickens without heads comes to mind, but we got through task one. And my aim was NOT to go off first. Hope you can wait til I spill the beans…. coming soon.

Day one

7 Nov

The following are extracts from my diary as I saw it and wrote about it all at the time. We had a lot of time to sit around and I chose to keep a part of my day for writing my diary.

Meet-up day
We arrive at the studio, dead on time. The nervous hellos and nice to meet yous is the name of the game. Man I am old. Maybe old and wise, but man it hits me in the face like a shot out of no-where.
Loud people. Showing off. Bragging. Proving. Insecurities. Scared. Pensive. All wondering where we are going. What we are gonna do and say. What are the rules? Can we break them ?

I sit down next a very pretty blonde. Yes young too. Damn. She sits so beautifully straight up like the teacher has just told her to “sit up straight” . She is an enthusiast she says.

People were shouting out photographic terminology. I do this. I shoot it at that. A simple way of letting everyone know they know what they are talking about . It sounds like a gaggle of photographic geese ! It appears the more terminology you shout out, the more you know. And the more the others should beware ! Nervous tension and competition makes people do weird things I think. We hang around for a long time. I guess this is gonna be the beginning of a many hours of hanging around !

I see a young, cute looking guy, He has shorts on showing off these long tanned legs. He has longish, wispy hair. A George Cluney stubble. He is clearly a Cape Town guy as his conversation is peppered with likes and shewow-the-mountain. His name is Myles.

I cannot help but hear the booming voice of the next guy. He is loud and in your face. Almost good looking in a rough kind of way. He sits next to each person, asking their name and typing it into the latest IPhone. This is Pierre!

When it’s my turn with the Iphone and Pierre, I ask him, “ what are you actually doing ?” . “Putting your name and a description of you so I can remember who you are.” Don’t you think you will know the people soon? I wonder. “ So how did you describe me ?” I ask. “ The one with the short blonde hair”. Relieved he never wrote the old fart ! He moves on to capture the next victims details on his phone.

I am distracted by a guy pacing up and down. Back and forth like a caged lion. I think to myself I bet he will have a heart attack before he’s done. I recognise his face but can’t place him. “ I am so busy” he spits out to anyone that can hear him. “Got so much to do. The wedding expo has just finished and I can’t hang around here all day. I have quotes to get out “. He introduces himself as Ian Cooper. My memory kicks in. He spoke at a wedding workshop I did the year before. He was a newbie wedding-pro and shared his story.

My eyes land on a very pretty girl sitting opposite me. I can see she is listening intently to a young guy chatting up a storm. He clearly has a lot to share with her. She appears to be a sweet, quiet, calm spirit. As Chad chatters away I notice that he is tall. Long arms and legs. Almost like he is still growing into his body. I can see that Judy likes to find out about how each person ticks.

I notice a very familiar young face in the sea of faces. I am sure this guy was a youngster at a camera club I belonged to a long time ago. He looks petrified. I wander over and chat to him. It IS him. Wow. He was in the club when he was like 14! He loves photography and all that surrounds it. He loves the art of it. I doubt that he has the confidence to knock off the big players but Brendon is a total sweety.

On the other side of the reception area I notice 2 girls chatting like they know each other. Long lost friends. Almost as if sharing what has happened to them since the last time they met. Their clothing reflects that they are both funky, creative people. Mbali with her afro twisted dreads and Kwena with her very hip clothes and style. They chat to each other with their conversation spattered with loads of hip and happening words. Most of which I wouldn’t even know what they are referring to.

A very tall, dark, skinny chick is leaning against a wall. She looks posed. She flicks her hair back with regular monotony. You know. Like a Swartkopf advert. I wonder if that will irritate me? As people chat to her she says she is a model. She is used to being on the other side of the camera. I should have guessed. Hence the wall flower pose. She introduces herself “ Hi I am Tasmin. Don’t call me Tamsin”. Of course Tamsin is what we all hear !
I turn my attention to the girl sitting next to me. “My name is Andrea”. Very quietly spoken. “I am a finance student, but I love photography”. I tell her I admire her braveness. I think to myself even I am totally intimidated by this bevy of talented arty young people, imagine how Andrea must feel.

A flash of black and pink enters the room. This is LOLA. She loudly introduces herself as “this is me” and goes round the room like no other. She shakes each persons hand repeating their names so she wouldn’t forget. Her hair is long and dark. It looks like the hairdresser dropped a tin of bright fushia pink paint on the top of her head and let it drip down. She is wildy creatively out there. She brings a warmth to the room. An excitement that this is the real world of show biz…. Her talents at accents is immediately evident as she mocks the director we haven’t yet met “ and [pause] action …..”. Lola’s ability at making people smile is immediate. She whips out a bag of shoes “ I wonder which ones to wear” . ‘ Like any of us really care what height or colour they are. But she came prepared for all eventualities.

I notice a cute, young Asian guy . He looks a little daunted by the whole affair. He looks like he is keeping his opinions or abilities to himself. Not wanting to shows his deck of cards yet. But he has a quiet confidence about him that will come out in time, I think.

Next to him is a REAL unique guy. Paul. He has the most outrageous orange Nike hat and plastic beads on. His broad chest boats a t-shirt in gold and green with addidas emblazoned across the front. He says nothing. He watches. He has half a mullet ! The school boy cut in the front is totally unbalanced by this half mullet. What planet does he come from ? Ok, told you I was getting old.

In the corner is a “brown chick”, as she calls herself. Wow she talks fast (and all). She may be small but we all notice her. She has done a lot of photography apparently. Maybe someone to watch.

The discussions amongst the group are wild and loud. What cameras? Imagine this ? would they do that to us ? Where will it be ? what teams are we gonna be in? But all should be revealed shortly