Last Tuesday at 2:42pm, friend and fellow photographer, Alicia Swedenborg, texted me with a question: “Can you come with me to South Africa tomorrow for a week to shoot a wedding?”
Her second photographer for the trip had an unexpected emergency that morning. I had just logged off my computer to enjoy the slowing of the season and visit a craft store for some holiday inspiration. There, in the middle of the store with my cart still empty, I wrote back at 2:43pm: “Absolutely”.
By 8:30pm that night I was packed and on the road to New York for our 10:40am flight.
I opened my eyes just as we crossed from the ocean above the African continent – a sight that delayed me even thinking of my camera for this first shot, and kept me awake for the last couple hours of the trip! South African Airways was amazing to travel with.
Monkeys joined us for lunch! We stuck our feet in the Indian Ocean! We bought matching [non-hunted] antelope hide purses in celebration of a now very-tight friendship :-) Every single person we met was beyond friendly.
In contrast, there were areas and times when we couldn’t slow the car, kept our cameras hidden, avoided walking more than a block for an evening meal. But South Africans themselves are so loving, and hopeful for a day without crime.
Much of the decor is both Dutch and modern-day African, including animal fur, hides and sculptures. We sipped South African shiraz, found some world-renowned cheesecake! We accessed wifi from obscure little cafes. We savored a day at the spa, and long chats in our hotel rooms.
The wedding was gorgeous, and our couple even hiked 3 hours in the mountains (two days later) with their gown and tux on! We heard the sounds of baboons, giggled at monkeys holding their young, spotted an ostrich and peacock in the wild.
We truly opened our eyes to the shanty life on the sides of the roads as well. But I still felt a bit of happiness and community among the people. African women do carry belongings on top of their heads, but maybe today those bags are made of plastic from the faraway store they walked to.
There’s so much “flavor” in this country and culture… so rich and deep. An experience I’ll never forget.
The above is only my Instagram feed from the trip, and you can find more by following me there at “staceyhedman“. There is of course soooo much more to say and share, and the film is in the mail to our lab!
Thank you to all my wonderful clients for their patience and understanding over the last week! No sessions were canceled, and all print orders were off and processing. My husband, Gary, stepped up with complete understanding. I am forever grateful to Alicia for sharing this piece of the world with me.
More to come soon!