Late one Friday afternoon Suskia and I drove out to Sandy Bay, a secluded beach near Cape Town that remains unscathed to this day, bulwarked against man’s imperious hands by two towering peaks.
Suskia parked her modest car halfway up the hill. She piled her kitbag with dresses, winter coats, bikinis and sarongs. I greeted the security man and armed myself with my unwieldy camera.
We ascended the hill, still perturbed by rumors of muggings here in nature’s final stronghold.
Upon arrival at the ridge, we surveyed the awe-inspiring view below. Suskia dropped the kitbag behind a bush and made her final touches before we would commence our shoot. I studied the light and prepared my camera for the first shot.
The final rays of the sun bejeweled her skin. I aimed my camera. I framed the subject and pressed the shutter button… but nothing happened. I tried again. Still nothing. The shutter wouldn’t release. I checked the display and it showed an error message. The sensor between the lens and the camera has malfunctioned.
How would I communicate this to Suskia who has been waiting with great excitement? Would I have to shoot with my iPhone to ensure we still walk away with something? What a letdown that would be.
I smiled, dissembled my true feelings, and explained the dilemma. She sat down and waited patiently, as if a solution would inevitably present itself.
I disconnected the lens to ensure the sensor on the camera cannot communicate with the lens. I held the lens in place to ensure it doesn’t fall out and to protect the sensor. I pressed the button. The shutter released! Perhaps I would be able to shoot after all!
But now I realized that none of the camera’s settings were available. The shutter was almost fully closed and locked in this position. Autofocus was unavailable and I could barely see through the gloomy viewfinder. I could push the ISO, take aim and only hope for the best.
Once again Suskia stepped out into the iridescent light. I held my camera in one hand and positioned the lens on the body with the other. I took aim at nature. Everything within my frame took 13.7 billion years to create: Sunlight, water, rock, sand, wind… and human.
All I had to do, is to frame the subject and press a button…
Suskia’s tattoo is Hindi for Santulan, which means equanimity:
Calmness and composure, especially in a difficult situation.
About the photos:
Suskia Strafella - The Vegan Body Project
Sandy Bay, Cape Town 2018