Welcome To The Land Of Jax

Gratitude, Love, Beauty, Light, Nature, Travel, Experience, Connection.

As you may have gathered I photograph people for a living. Even when I'm not working I'm still constantly watching the light and am fascinated by human beings. I’ve shot hundreds of weddings in my years and still love these assignments as they give me the gift of witnessing human connection whilst being creative. I also create portraits. My Fine Art Degree helps me express the way in which I experience the world and it also means that I have a need to do personal projects in between my commercial work. I’m currently working on a number of personal portraiture projects that I'm excited to exhibit at some point. When I'm not shooting I love teaching photographers via workshops, speaking engagements and coaching.

If you hover over the images below you'll find a few fun facts about me followed by some interview questions. Please feel free to drop me a mail if you would like to ask me anything else.

About Me

Nature restores me

I live in the Mouse House

I love my crazy family

I grew up surfing

I practice yoga and meditation

I need to go into the ocean often

Our dog died recently and I still cry

#ihavethisthingwithtiles

I love the smell of horses

Teaching scares me but I love it

Road trips make me happy

I live next door to an indigenous forest

I am vegetarian

Traveling delights and thrills me

Bali is one of my favourite countries

Tell us your story. How did you get into photography?

I went to art school to become a painter but I totally fell in love with photography and printing my own photos. There is something so magical about watching black and white pictures slowly apparition onto a page in the red pungent darkness that is a darkroom. To this day I still find photography to be an enchanting medium, as you never really know what you're going to discover when you lift the camera to your eyes!

After graduating with my Degree I lived in London and worked in bars, looked after grannies, painted backdrops and made sandwiches to fund my backpacking trips to third world countries. I spent 3 months sleeping in hammocks in Mexico, I've hiked in the Himalayas, bought beautiful fabrics in Guatemala, snorkelled in the azure waters of Australia, partied under the full moon in Thailand and watched the sunrise over Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It was during these years that I fell in love with people watching and I do believe that travel has been my greatest education!

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Branding shoot for Jacki Bruniquel in Ballito, South Africa by photographer Elizabeth Donnell

Eventually South Africa beckoned me home. From that point I went back to Natal Technikon to get a more practical grip of the technical aspects of Photography. I've also assisted some awesome photographers and artists who helped me hugely during my career.
During my time at tech and for a couple of years after finishing my Photography Diploma I worked primarily as an artist making mixed media work where I combined painting with photography. I had a number of exhibitions during this time and even though art was definitely my focus I still took lots of pictures.

Throughout all of these years I had people asking me to shoot weddings but I was rather reluctant to call myself a wedding photographer, as I believed there was a certain stigma attached to it. I started looking abroad and realised that my creative approach to wedding photography was in line with what was happening overseas. I was blown away by the inspiring wedding images being created internationally and realised that wedding photography really offered me the chance to shoot in a documentary style and also make creative images.

Do you ever get bored with weddings?

Weddings not only offer me the chance to people watch and get paid for it, they also give me the opportunity to be creative and tell stories with my camera. This ticks two boxes for me – It fuels my fascination with people and satisfies the artist within me. The fact that my clients choose me because they don’t want run of the mill photos is a real blessing. Getting to travel and meet so many interesting folk is a big bonus too!

How long have you been photographing weddings?

Although I did shoot a few weddings pre 2010 I got serious in 2010 and have shot hundreds of weddings since.

What else do you photograph?

I really love taking portraits, and anything to do with traveling gets my shutter finger excited!

You are based in Durban, but often travel around South Africa to shoot. Why not stay in one city?

I have a gypsy’s heart and I love to travel and experience new things, new people, and new scenery. Any chance I get to travel I grab it! One of the greatest things about my job is that I get to see so many incredible places. I've shot in fancy hotels, farms, mountain tops, tropical islands,  first and third world countries and family homes. They're all interesting to me. I love my home but I also love coming back to my home if you know what I mean.

Where has your work taken you to?

All over South Africa, Mauritius, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Europe, India and the Caribbean.

Photographer in Kubu Island Botswana

You have traveled alot over the years, where is your favorite country?

Wow, that's hard to answer. I love the culture and the hustle and bustle of big cities like London and Paris but I get most excited about third world countries like Indonesia, India and Guatemala. I have done a lot of backpacking in my time and I must say my favourite memories involve whizzing around in scooters in Asia, exploring ancient temples in Central America and surfing uncrowded waves in Madagascar. There is something so magical about going to a place that you have never been to and I believe that traveling has been my greatest education.

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You have so many career accolades to be proud of. Can you tell us about some of your favorite achievements?

Thanks very much. I'm very grateful for some amazing opportunities like being profiled on South Africa’s TV show Top Billing. I was also included in a book called Women on Women, A History of Women Photographers in South Africa. I've received a number of Fearless awards for some of my wedding images. Fearless Photographers is an international organisation that represents creative wedding photographers who think out of the box. They run competitions that receive thousands of entries from the top wedding photographers in the world so I am thrilled to have been honored with a number of awards. I have also won a number of South African awards including the Admired in Africa Photographer of the year of 2013 and 2016. I was placed on the SLR top 150 wedding photographers in the world list,  and also the top 150 international Fearless wedding photographers of all time list in 2016. And in 2018 I was included in the the SWP's top 100 Wedding Photographers in the world list. My biggest career accolade however is a happy client! 

How can people get hold of you?

Tell us about your photographic workshops and teaching

When I first looked at wedding photography as a career, my plan was to do it so that I could support myself whilst making and exhibiting art work. Little did I know that the weddings would take off so hugely that I wouldn’t pick up a paint brush for 8 years. Way back then I had no idea how to run a business, what to charge or how to get through my workflow. I was working 80 hours a week when things blew up for me. I slowly but surely began loose steam. It wasn't possible for me to work like that and keep going. I landed up collapsing and was rushed to the hospital. Eventually adrenal burnout was diagnosed and I had to relook at my life and the way that I was running my business. I wish there had been a workshop that could have helped me at that point but luckily my Fine Art background, a lot of self introspection, reading and a trip to Bali sorted me out and slowly but surely I pieced myself together.

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I know exactly what it is like to feel totally burnt out, uninspired, and overwhelmed by creative anxiety and I want to help other photographers out of this 'stuckness'. I've found that so many wedding and portraits photographers are scared of their flash these days and panic when faced with tricky lighting situations. Often these same photographers can get stuck in a rut making safe images, which has them dreading work and serving clients who don’t resonate with them. My aim when I teach photography is to help you move past any fear you have surrounding your work and give you confidence to turn tricky situations into creative possibilities. I want to help you speak with your own visual language and create images that you are proud of. I want you to have more balance in your life, charge correctly, work with your dream clients and fall in love with being a photographer again.

What are your teaching credentials?

I've done a BA Fine Art Degree and a Diploma in photography. I lectured part time at the Natal Technikon. I have taught art classes and art workshops plus I've done plenty of speaking engagements about photography at gatherings like the Photo Film Expo, the Photo Plus Africa Expo, Admired in Africa, Nikon House, Colour Chrome and FotoMax. I created the Unstuck Yourself Workshop which was sold out on every occasion and has happened numerous times in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town and my favourite game when I was little was Teacher Teacher 🙂

How can photographers work with you?

I am going to be offering a limited number of 1:1 coaching programmes and workshops next year so it is best to sign up to my newsletter to hear about my latest workshops or speaking engagements, or just drop me a line.

Jax-mermaid

What's up with the mermaids?

When I was little I spent a lot of time at the bottom of the pool hell bent on growing gills and a tale! Mermaids have always been a thing for me as I love water and the ocean. Having a dip in the warm sea is like a total rebirth for me! I collect carved mermaids from all over the world which makes my logo perfectly, authentically, uniquely me and can't thank my brother in law Tyrone Bradley and good friend Dylan McGarry enough for making it for me!

How can people get hold of you?