We’re talking to the photographers behind Drop Your Drink. You’ll get to learn about how they work and what drives them. Next up in the series is Lourens Smit, a Pretoria-based photographer and videographer.
DYD: You have such an expansive portfolio which includes portraiture, wedding and concert photography. How did you start your photographic journey and what made you focus on those genres of photography?
Lourens: I’ve always loved photography but never took it too seriously. I used to play with my parents DSLR and their first digital camera (which was 1.3MP and amazing). My interest really peaked when a friend, and fantastic photographer, Brian Van Wyk, came from Canada for a visit and opened my eyes to the power of manual mode on a camera. From there I started shooting what I loved. I love music, so music photography became a big part of my life. I love people and moments so the same happened for weddings and portraits.
DYD: Who are you as a photographer and how would you describe your style?
Lourens: You could call my style journalistic. There’s a certain amount of fun preparing as much as you can and leaving the rest to chance. Conceptual work is fun, and it’s something I do often, but there’s something special about going out to somewhere like Oppi just to find something or someone interesting to photograph.
DYD: We’ve seen a big focus on concert photography in your work. What differentiates you from other photographers shooting concert photography?
Lourens: I don’t try to compare myself to other concert photographers much. I try hard and have fun but so do the other photographers in the concert photographer community. For the most part, everyone doing concert photography knows how cool what we’re doing is. It’s really something to stand as close as is possible to the stage during your favourite bands performances and get asked to capture it however you’d like.
DYD: What gear have you relied on during your progression as a photographer?
Lourens: The piece of gear I’ve relied on the most would probably be a fast 50mm lens. It’s super cheap and really awesome. I shoot on canon DSLRs which I bought after my first camera, a 6MP pentax DSLR, got stolen. I’ve recently upgraded to some new lenses and got my hands on some fun old film cameras so I’ll probably be using those much more in the future.
DYD: We’re fans of your Bewilderbeasts of Oppikoppi series. What was the inspiration behind this project? On that note, what thought process do you follow when you create photographic projects?
Lourens: I was kind of inspired by the idea of escapism and how that plays into the culture of music festivals. Lots of people who go to something like Oppi have completely different roles to fulfil in their daily lives. They get to use Oppi as a fresh start and be whoever they want to be. It’s kind of animalistic. People wear masks and act crazy because they have the freedom to act crazy.
My thought process is actually pretty tame. Sometimes I’ll stumble onto a concept and roll with it and sometimes an idea plants a seed and grows and changes until I figure out what to do with it.
DYD: Can you tell us about any great moments you’ve had as a photographer? Does shooting your series on the Nelson Mandela Memorial feature in those great moments?
Lourens: The Nelson Mandela memorial was a great moment. Myself and Brian van Wyk went through to the memorial when it was happening and we were somehow regarded as legitimate media and given a surprising amount of access (we weren’t legitimate media at all). It was a crazy day and the energy and enthusiasm in the air was electric. I can’t really think of one moment in particular but a few stand out. I got to photograph and meet my favourite band (Bombay Bicycle Club) and I got tackled by the lead singer of Foals when I wasn’t paying attention and he ran through the pit.
DYD: You make use of the free-lensing technique quite often in your photos. How do you make it work so well?
Lourens: Haha. I cheat a little. I’ve hacked my camera a little with custom the firmware magic lantern that makes it a little less hit or miss. It’s a really fun technique but it involves taking the lens off the camera and dangling it in front of the camera sensor. Not the best I idea at a dusty concert but the results look really interesting.
DYD: In your opinion, what makes a great photographer?
Lourens: Someone that can anticipate moments and capture them in a way that can elicit the emotion that they’re trying to achieve
DYD: Which local and international photographers inspire you?
Lourens: Gabe Mcclintock, Brian van Wyk, Chris Brinlee Jr, Ryan Muirhead, Brandon Witzel, Sian Chapman and Ryan Brenizer. These are all off the top of my head so spelling errors will be a plenty.