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Pen Pals – Lesson from a Pro

Friday, 17 June 2016 01:26 Written by  Lisa Leslie
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Ian Fleming lives and breathes photography. He has been working as a professional photographer in Knysna for more than two decades with his vast body of work including many iconic Garden Route landscapes - the raw beauty of our region brilliantly captured time and time again. He has over the years, also mastered the art of architectural photography, perfecting the challenging techniques of balancing natural and artificial light sources. His real passion, however, is documentary street photography, which he claims is his favourite genre.

It all began in 2009 when he was asked by Olympus agents to test out the new Olympus Pen EP1 - a camera that was light and compact with an interchangeable half-frame 35mm lens. The camera's unusual name and retro styling was in line with the original Olympus Pen, a series of 35mm cameras first launched in 1959. Ian was so impressed and quite taken aback by the incredible quality and ease of use of the camera that he decided to embark on a project. The project, titled 'Ball and Pen', entailed capturing street and township scenes throughout the Garden Route and Karoo ahead of the Soccer World Cup. “My first thought in doing the project was to prove that you could shoot a project of this nature with a compact style camera and receive top class professional results”, said Ian. “After travelling through all these local rural areas and seeing the bad conditions in which our young kids have to play the game of football, I decided that 50% of the income from the two limited edition prints would be used to establish some type of decent football situation in the townships of Knysna.” This portfolio of images garnered much attention and he raised R22 000 for the all girl Cross Roads Football team from Hornlee.

He felt so inspired by this positive impact that he had made on the community of Knysna that in 2011 he decided to launch a training initiative involving high school children, a project dubbed 'Pen Pals'.
The name is derived from the fact that each of his students is equipped with an Olympus Pen EP3 model (Ian is a brand ambassador for the product) to learn the art of photography, free of charge.

“The cameras are sponsored by Olympus. The outings, the end of year exhibition as well as all additional camera equipment needed to make the course viable, was sponsored by our company and by generous donations from several companies and individuals in Knysna. Recently we have been very excited to have received a very generous sponsorship from the Featherbed Company in Knysna, who have agreed to assist with R20 000 every year. The Knysna Municipality has also now agreed to assist the project.”

The six chosen students, all from varying backgrounds, are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from a local photographer that personifies passion in his field. He loves sharing his love and deep seated knowledge of his craft with the local youth.

Ian's son, Warren, joined Fleming Photographic some time ago and together with Ian's wife, Glenda, they make an incredible team which takes great pride in helping the aspiring young photographers of Knysna.

For more information visit: http://www.ianflemingphotography.com/


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