In The Boudoir With Thembi

Can we do some boudoir photography? Thembi asked me.

At least we gave it a try…

At the pump station – somewhere in South Africa

On our search of a good and cool location for another photo shooting we came across this abandon pump station on a farm. We decided for a rather shabby but sexy look. Maybe a bit like the pin-ups from the 70’s, but darker and less colorful.

Thembi got an old, stained, short trouser and a teared shirt. With her curly hair and a stern look, she posed in front of the huge petrol drum. The gas pipe in the hand she gave a self confident look to the camera.

Despite the serious look, it was all fun and we captured few shots. But decide for yourself…

Fine Art Nude In Pilanesberg

It was in a shopping mall outside Pilanesberg Nationalpark, where i met this young, beautiful lady the first time. The talk lead to photography, more specific to beauty and fashion photography, modeling and so on. Thembi admits she wants to have a photo shoot, but there wasn’t any nice location around but Pilanesberg, the beautiful national park with its stunning landscape. The idea of having esthetic photos from her body in beautiful nature raised.

From the start, Thembi was a natural talent. She felt comfortable with the environment, moved smooth and confident and gave that look of a strong woman to the camera. We had so much fun, visited different locations, where it was not only beautiful, but of course, also safe to leave the car. After hours of photo shoot, we brought home a bunch of really nice, interesting pictures, but see, and judge, for yourself.

However Thembi had so much fun, she asked me for more photo shoots, but that’s another story for the next blog. Stay tuned!

The Ngwenya Glass Factory In Eswatini

A pretty building with nice cafe and a small park, I thought when I parked my car. The entrance lead me into a showroom full of glassy souvenirs, but also nice vases and drinking glasses. 

Stairs goes up to a door. Behind that I found myself on a balcony overlooking the workshop. Red hot, molten glasses from an oven become nice wine glasses.mIt seems so easy, but certainly needs some skill to produce it all so perfectly.

However, I ended the short tour not with a glass, but a cup of espresso in my hand.

Piri-Piri Market In Mozambique

Best place to buy fresh product and local specialities are the local markets. It’s also the place to meet people and chat with locals. Fresh made Piri-Piri, a spicy sauce made from chilli peppers, are displayed all over the market. It was my goal to get some before i leave the country. The women been calling me to get her best products, even i was just roaming around first. A cute toddler sat in front of the vegetables and observed me curiously when got picked up by his mother. Too cute to just pass by.

Next to the colorful market is a simply restaurant with refreshment. Just right to sit down, watching the life on market and get to know more people. Junior tells me from his work as a psychiatrist in the hospital nearby. He’s also a photo enthusiast, tells me from his uncle, who got even famous as a photographer. Pity i don’t have more time to meet that guy in person.

On my way out of the market i stumbled in „Fernandos Bar“, covered with cards and stickers. Why isn’t there are business card of mine, i asked amused. Hand me some over, i’ll stick it somewhere, the bar keeper replied. In no time was my business card tacked above the bar desk and several sticker of my website put on the fridge and the beer tap. This must be celebrate with a tasty beer, i decided…

Bikini Shoot With A Beauty From Mozambique

Do you do photo shoots? That question aroused when i took a picture of that young lady with her friend at the beach of Ponta Do Ouro. I do for fun, not professionally, i replied. She explained to me, she never did a photo shoot in bikini but like to have some pictures. So it came to her first bikini shoot on next day.

And she did very well, right? Naturally and confident she moved at the shore of the Indian ocean. Smiled, laughed or gave me a stern look. It was pure fun even when more people arrived and gave us a curious gaze. The crowd also attracted the police, which said, it’s too much water around our feet. So we had to stop. But hey the result is impressive, isn’t it?

The Beach Of Mozambique In Times Of Corona

The waves crashing to the rocks at the shore. Uninterrupted, everlasting energy of mother nature. It’s the first sound I hear when I wake up. The cool breeze brings me to the sandy beach. A tractor is pulling a boat for a fish trip to the sea. Those fishermen are early birds too, or are they called ‚early fish‘ then? 

At the end of the beach the sun rises between the rock and the ocean. Very slow and deliberately the first rays hit the rocks, caress the waves and finally warm my skin. Beautiful colors unfold and pushing the dark of the night aside. The day started just now.

It’s weekend and since Maputo isn’t too far away from Ponta Do Ouro, many weekend visitors are expected. Loads of pick-up cars with picnic-families, sun-seekers and partygoers falling into town and beach. There’s just one obstacle: the beaches are closed for swimmers and sunbathers due the covid pandemic. It is allowed to walk on the beach, though. 

Couples, families and groups of friends are moving along the beach. Among them are police forces watching no one steps into the water or even dare to swim. As soon a few dove their toes too deep in the water a sharp whistle brings them back to dry sand. But this is not stopping them from chitchatting, playing in the sand and making photos from each others.

With my camera in hand, I notice the gazes of three friends making selfies. Do you want me to take a photo of the three of you, I asked. A quick answer confirmed it. And so begins the first of many spontaneous photo shoots. There are kids, jumping around, friends want to immortalize themselves in the picture, families enjoy an image as souvenir. Other photographer showing proudly their camera, while girls showing me their best beach poses. I can’t tell when I saw last time so many smiling faces, so much laughter by jumping for the photos. 

Only when the sun sets, the last light was fading, the beach emptier from the day visitors. The silhouettes of the last group disappears in the dark and the hidden crabs taking over the beach again. In the distance party music echoes across, but soon even this ends due the curfew. The last thing I hear are waves crashing to the rocks. Uninterrupted, everlasting.

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Dusty Streets Of Punta Do Ouro/Mozambique

The heat struck me when i arrived at that small villlage at the beach. After a few rainy and chilly days I was looking for it, but didn’t expected that big change just a few hours after border crossing to Mozambique. 

First thing; to get on the street and get some local currency and buy some water, And a local SIM card. Along the street are colorful fabrics, towels and clothes displayed. Local dealer show their handicrafts, carved wooden figures and small funny cars made of wood. 

Young guys passing me with their roaring quads, raising lots of dust and certainly having fun. For little money, they rent out their vehicles on tourists. But it’s not allowed anymore to drive them on the beach, they warn me. I didn’t suppose to rent anyway, although it comes handy to go for and back with those conveniently. Many tourists from South Africa, just bring their own quad or strand buggy, going for shopping with, or to a near beaches outside town,

In front of the ATM is a queue, waiting patiently to get cashed out their money. Not fancy to wait in the heat, I asked the street seller for changing some cash US Dollars in Meticai, the local currency. Really old fashion, I know, but indeed I found somebody who was happy to get dollars in cash.

Now I was able to buy myself a nice coffee. No better place for that than the ‚Love Café‘ at the end of the street. Friendly staff, strong coffee and street view to entertain myself. As I noticed on the street already, the people are open and friendly, and not too shy to get photographed. In the opposite, some staff from the café was asking me to take pictures of them. 

Back on my camp, next to the beach, I was leaning back with a cold local beer, overlooking the beautiful bay of Punta Do Ouro and feeling I’m arrived here.

A Very Special Christmas In South Africa

Talking about hospitality and friendship, I always think first on my dear friends in South Africa, who not only taking care of my Land Rover when I’m back in Switzerland, but also introduced me to the entire family and thought me a lot about the country and their business, farming.

Every time after I arrived the country, I was invited to stay at least a few days on their farm. I was taken around, got to see what’s changed since my last visit and spend also time with their sons and their families or friends. There’s no warmer welcome possible, since they make me feel as part of the community, almost family, but not as stranger anymore. It went so far, I got invited to the big family reunion for Christmas two years ago. 

When I came back this year, I was missing my old friend H., who sadly passed away last January. That terrible covid-pandemic got another victim. A big man with big heart let behind not only a beloved wife, but also five sons, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

I spent some time with my lady friend A., the widow and sharing good memories about Sir H. And listen to interesting stories from the past. Although I had other plans, A. Invited me again for Christmas to join the family gathering. When my plans got changed, she almost insist to come and I couldn’t deny the honor which was given to me again.

Terrible news reached me a day before the family gathering: my dear friend A. passed away. I was in shock of that completely unexpected event. She was in deep grief of the big loss of her husband, but seemed physically strong and healthy. 

To be frankly, I was not only in shock, but also got uncertain, how to deal with the grieving family. Was it inappropriate to stay on the farm? Should I arrange anything special and how can I show my deep condolences to them? But once again I felt the big hospitality of this family, which decided to gather in memory of Lady A. and welcomed me to stay. 

The festive days began early morning with a memorial ceremony of Lady A. 

All family members gathered on a viewpoint of the farm, where the bush opens to beautiful African landscape with the Blouwe Berge on the horizon. All helped making this spot special with putting flowers, oranges and candles there. I was asked to help with filming and photographing for keeping it in memory, and I was grateful to be able to contribute something

The family said goodbye with singing, reading from the Bible, sharing some memories about this lady with a big heart. It was a wonderful, heartwarming event, made me feel cry over the loss of such a good friend.

Despite this awful loss, the family knows life goes on. And in good memories, the joy of Christmas wasn’t forgotten. Children playing cricket or rugby on the grass, on the braai (SouthAfrican BBQ) is food roasting and from time to time we drove around the farm to watch the wildlife. This also included a thorn in a kid foot, which I tried to remove, or some minor sun burn after floating on the pools bit too long. 

There’s a lot of talk, laughter, play and of course food and drink. Special occasions like icing of cookies (#lebkuchenhaus), swimming in a water reservoir in the bush or delivering gifts, are not missed either. 

All in all a very jolly time, but never forgotten the two people who founded this family

You will understand, that I avoid to show clear faces, since this was a private occasion. Nevertheless, I want share some impression from these special and emotional days. Also as an expression for my gratefulness for all this hospitality and big friendship.

Incwala – Die Königszeremonie in Eswatini

Ein Schritt nach links, ein Schritt nach rechts, und jeder vierte wird gestampft, begleitet mit „shh-shh“-Geräusche. Die meisten Krieger gucken ernst nach vorne, doch als ich zögernd in ihre Reihe trete, machen sie bereitwillig Platz und erklären mir den simplen Ablauf der Schritte. Der junge Swazi rechts von mir will wisssen woher ich komme. Aus der Schweiz, antworte ich. „Ahh, Xhakaaa…„, grinst er mich an. Erstaunt nehme ich war, dass er deutlich mehr über diesen Schweizer Fussballer weiss, denn ich selber. Ein älterer Herr in der vorderen Reihe guckt ernst zurück und wir konzentrieren uns wieder auf die monotonen Tanzschritte.

Ich befinde mitten in der Incwala, einer der heiligsten und grössten Zeremonie des Königreich Eswatini. Der Höhepunkt des mehrtägigen Festes findet im Innern eines grossen Kraals mit bestimmt 100 Meter Durchmesser und drei Meter hoher Zaun aus dicken Holzästen und Stämme statt. Auf der einen Seite reihen sich die Swazi Krieger in ihren traditionellen Kleider auf. Dazu gehört das mit Stolz um die Hüfte getragene Leopardenfell, aus Kuhschwänze fabrizierten Umhang, ein Schild aus Kuhleder, ein Kopfschmuck mit kostbaren, bunten Federn und dunkle Stöcke, die übern Kopf geschwungen werden.

Auf der gegenüber liegenden Seite des Kraal stehen bunt gekleidete Frauen in Gruppen, ebenfalls tanzend und singend. Statt eines Stockes balancieren sie einen hellen Zweig in der Luft. Nach und nach betreten auch barbusige Frauen und Mädchen den Kraal, nur mit einem sehr kurzen Rock bekleidet, und tanzen auf die Männer zu und zurück.

Eigentlich ist es Ausländer nicht gestattet sich innerhalb diesen Kraals aufzuhalten. Und eigentlich wusste ich noch vor einigen Tage nicht mal über die Existenz dieser Zeremonie. Doch dann brachte mich Ellen, eine Reisefreundin, hier her und machte mich auch noch mit einigen Leuten bekannt. Neben dem Tourismus-Minister und einigen Presseleute, begegnen wir auch einem Piloten der königlichen Familie und dem königlichen Hoffotografen. Schnell lernen wir, dass es nicht nur im heiligen Innern des Kraals ein Fotoverbot herrscht, sondern auch nur diskret direkt vor dem Kraal Aufnahmen gemacht werden dürfen. Was wiederum kein Problem darstellte ist das Fotografieren auf dem Platz rundum, wo sich Frauen und Männer auf die Zeremonie vorbereiten oder auf ihren Einsatz warten.

Trotz generellem Verbot werden einige Ausländer in den Kraal zugelassen. Das geht aber nur mit einer Bewilligung. Auch einige akkreditierte Fotografen dürfen sich für eine kurze Zeit darin bewegen und Fotos machen. Der Hoffotograf bemühte sich für Ellen und mich um eine solche Bewilligung, was aber zeitlich zu kurzfristig war. Immerhin erreichte er, dass Ellen, auf der Frauenseite, und ich bei den Krieger, in den Kraal gelassen werden.

Es wird Zeit für den König von Eswantini, Mswati III, der in seiner ganzen Pracht und mit riesigem Schmuck die Szenerie betritt. Im Schlepptau seiner persönlichen Leibgarde, ebenfalls in traditionellem Kriegsgewand, schreitet er den Kraal ab, reiht, nur etwa 20 Meter von mir entfernt, sich bei seinen Krieger ein und stampft mit. Das geht über mehrere Stunden weiter, ohne dass sich wirklich grosse Variationen oder gar Aktionen erkennen liess. Dann, als sich die Kriegerschar in das Zentrum gestampft hatte, wurde ich höflich, aber bestimmt, gebeten, wie alle anderen Ausländer auch, den Kraal zu verlassen. Draussen fand ich Ellen, die ebenfalls aus ihrer Frauentanzgruppe ausgeschlossen wurde. Zusammen verlassen wir den königlich-heiligen Platz und nehmen eine reiche Erfahrung mehr mit. Und auch einige fotografische Impressionen…