Bertus Hanekom is a self-taught landscape photographer from beautiful South Africa. He enjoys capturing artistic images of nature, with a fondness for long exposures and the ocean.
Hanekom’s younger years were mostly spent surfing and hanging out on some of the many pristine beaches in the Boland area of South Africa. He still feels naturally drawn to the movement of water and although he lives more inland these days, he schedules regular trips to our incredible coastline.
The ocean is by far his favorite subject to shoot. He thinks that just like our fingerprints, no two waves are ever exactly alike and neither will a photograph of them be. It is this ever-changing interaction between the coastal elements that inspires him to create images that he hopes reflect some of the extraordinary scenes that transpire in front of his lens.
Hanekom is a member of PhotoShelter, the leader in portfolio websites, photo sales, marketing, and archiving tools for photographers.
“I have always had a fascination with nature and the great outdoors. From a young age, being outdoors felt better than being indoors. Photography has become the medium through which I attempt to communicate this love for the natural beauty all around us,” says Hanekom.
Why photography? What does the medium mean to you? When did you get started?
My interest in photography started at an early age, but my landscape photography journey only really began towards the end of 2014. I did a short stint on sailboats in the Caribbean in order to save up for a decent laptop, some filters and a full frame camera. Since then I have taken countless online tutorials and trial and error adventures to eventually get more comfortable with my camera. Landscape photography offers me a way to express myself artistically, whilst spending time in nature. You can’t really ask for much more than that.
In your opinion, what goes into making great landscape and nature photography?
Persistence is key, but a passion for the outdoors obviously helps. I like to ask myself whether if I was standing at this location without a camera, if I’d still be happy - the answer is always a resounding ‘yes’. As landscape photographers, we get to experience nature’s most beautiful moments, but it often also means setting the alarm for 4am in time for sunrise or venturing off into the darkness on a cold night. As cliché as it sounds, you have to love what you do.
Tell us about your most memorable shoot?
My most memorable one would have to be a recent trip to Cape Town to shoot the iconic Table Mountain from Blouberg Beach. It’s a shot every landscape photographer in South Africa has taken, but a rare thunderstorm was moving in over the city (something that doesn’t happen regularly) and the chances of a colorful sunset looked promising. At sunset, I got the shot I wanted. However, an hour or two after I left, Cape Town photographers were treated to one of the most dramatic lightning displays in years. My Landy [car]unfortunately had some electrical issues and driving the long road home long after dark was risky. It’s a bittersweet memory. I think next time I’ll sleep in the car.
Do you have a photographic philosophy?
Not necessarily. I try to steer clear of over-processing images. There is certainly room for creative expression, but when you browse through social media these days, you see Milky Ways appear above sunsets, and everything in between. I don’t think this is a bad thing, but to me personally there is a line between photography and digital art.