Images of Ordinary Madnessby Andy Davis / 13.08.2009
Nick Aldridge is a grumpy man when he’s hungry. He does not so much control his emotions as wrestle with them. The first time we met we almost had a fight over a chocolate bar on a road trip. That little episode earned him the nickname “Darkness Boy”. A mercurial talent behind the lens, Nick has made a name shooting some of the most evocative portraits of South African celebrities from Kinglsey Holgate to Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Rian Malan to David Goldblatt. His landscape, abstract and surfing portfolios are pretty good too. And he has a great side project shooting old hotels.
Klaas Pieters, trapper, Verneukpan
“There are lots of interesting people I’ve photographed,” he pauses for a moment, to let me know I should take this bit seriously. “But most of the people who are supposed to be amazing, treat photographers like shit. Either they think you’ll steal their souls or are they’re only interested in the milage they’ll get from you.”
“But I enjoyed taking pictures of these guys. There’s Klaas Pieters, the caracal trapper. Felix the lion man. Beautiful human beings living a non-materialistic, simple life. I photographed a guy who starts fires, he was interesting, and a guy who travels the world testing all the newest roller-coasters, if he’s alive they’re safe.”
“I’m studying to be a yoga teacher.” He says. “Surfing, writing, making collages and shell necklaces with my 2 and a half year old daughter, Sienna… It gives me something to do while the recession eats the photography business. And stops me spending too much time in my head.”
It’s tough shit the life of a photographer, eking out an existence in a world that tends to reward mediocrity and glosses over substance. It’s a place where talent struggles to make a living and ends up shooting brochures for shopping chains or stock images for corporate prospectuses. If they’re lucky. Do any of them make any real money?
“Ja, sometimes. I mean I’ve managed to scrape by. And I don’t work that hard in a 5-9 kinda way. But the easy money days in photography are over. There are too many of us and digital makes it all very easy. About 1% of the kids that graduate from photography schools get to be photographers. It’s bullshit that there are so many people being trained for such a tiny industry. An article in Creative Review says that in the next 4 years, if you’re a studio photographer you’d better be doing 3D rendering of you’ll be out of business.”
Are you ever satisfied with your work?
“No. Never. The moment i can do something i need to move on. Hence the yoga and the surfing. I’ll stick at something until i can understand it, assimilate it and then I get bored and need to move on. I’m very interested in doing some film work, actually.”
Tell us a little bit about Kingsley Holgate.
“Kingsley is taller than me. And he is the coolest famous guy i’ve ever met. I took the photo of him while be was eating Jungle Oats. Kingsley eats jungle oats! There’s a frikkin’ ad for you. He had to arrange his facial hairs for a minute before and after each mouthful.”
Do you like any other photographers?
“I’m not all that interested in the so-called South African fine art photographers, mostly they are photojournalists and commercial photographers selling pictures in galleries because the magazines and ad agencies have cut budgets.
But i think there will be some good photography coming from South Africa soon, the Bang-Bang Club have sung their song and it’s time for a different tune.
On the other hand photography is probably dead already and 3d rendering is the way forward.”
Check out Nick’s full portfolio here.