Adriaan Louw is a Cape Town-based photographer with an enviably well-stamped passport. While his fresh and beautiful decor and lifestyle photography could serve as an ample source for the most avid Pinterest-er, we’ve chosen to focus on his travel photography. Adriaan has captured the textures, patterns, people and must-see places of cities the world over. He must be able to actually fall asleep on a plane.
Each of Adriaan’s images explores an unusual detail, angle or crop. Even when shooting a famous landmark it’s through avocado-coloured umbrellas. His instinct for composition can be explained by his 10 year career in graphic design and motion graphics before making the switch to professional photography. It was while he was still studying Advertising and Graphic Design at AAA that he first starting shooting.
Here, we find out more about his travels and share a selection of his images taken from Rio to Rajasthan.
How did you first get into photography?
I had been shooting a lot of Black & White photography whilst studying, but the cost involved in printing, enlarging etc was really off putting. So the Pentax 35mm which was a hand me down from my father, just collected dust. I went away for a weekend in 2003 with a girlfriend at the time and she brought a Canon Powershot A90 with her. It was the first time that I had experimented with a digital camera and the penny dropped.
It wasn’t a high end DSLR, but it was fast and easy, which I liked. After that I invested in a Nikon D50 as my brother had a full set of Nikon lenses which were compatible with the digital body. He had purchased a Nikon F90 with several lenses back in 1991 whilst working in Germany. The body and lenses were just sitting in an aluminium carry case by the time I took an interest.
What kind of work keeps you busy day-to-day?
Primarily Decor and Lifestyle photography.
Have most of your travels been personal trips or while on assignment?
A mix of self funded and commissioned.
Do you have a vision in mind before photographing a city or are your images mostly spontaneous?
I always do a fair amount of research with regards to locations, architecture etc, but it never goes according to plan.
Your travel albums feature some intimate street portraits. Do you have any tips on approaching potential subjects?
Portraits need to be spontaneous and the subject needs to feel comfortable with who you are. I don’t spend more than 2 minutes, or else the result looks staged.
Do you have to be inconspicuous to get a great shot?
It really depends on the subject, time and place.
Your images often feature overlooked details and interesting angles. Do you actively seek out the unusual?
I would say it comes down to your own view of the subject being photographed. A personal connection and a sensitivity to everything around you is essential.
How do you avoid cliches?
I think over time you develop your own style which will prevent this. Cliches can also be reinvented.
You’ve made all the countries you’ve visited look like amazing destinations but which was the most naturally photogenic?
And which was the most challenging?
India again, especially with it being so chaotic, intense and exhausting on the streets. Whilst moving through Rajasthan’s most congested areas with a camera, I felt like a dog on heat! Everybody wants a piece of you!
What kind of camera and lens/es do you find best for street/travel photography?
It really doesn’t make a difference what you are shooting with, your eye will always work around your limitations. Expensive equipment is not an investment, rather spend your money and time removing yourself from any routine by seeking out new and unfamiliar surroundings. Its the only way to learn about yourself and new subject matter. The bulk of my Travel work has been shot with a Nikon D80 / D90 / D7000 with a Nikon 17-55mm 2.8.
Which location that you haven’t visited before is top of your to-see list?
Find more at adriaanlouw.co.za.