I wrote a short article on the 15th of September outlining the hidden gems that surround us in the Western Cape that we are so privileged to have the opportunity to discover and explore.

I decided that it was time to take action. Thanks to some team efforts from a wonderful group of students who are currently attending our part time Beginner to Pro photography course, we ventured up the West Coast to a place called Jakkelsfontein. (for those that are not familiar with this hidden reserve, it is located near Darling, just after Grotto bay).

Let me start with a huge thanks to Dominique and Charles for their outgoing hospitality, as both the hosts, at their beachfront guest house, as well as versed travel guides who introduced us to the many scenic and most charming of places in the area. So blessed and grateful.

(before I move ahead… for anyone interested in a most idyllic place to relax and stay for a few days, and a short drive from Cape Town, let me know, so I can forward you the details).

We set off from Cape Town on Friday at around 4pm and arrived just after 5pm to be greeted with a gin and tonic on a lounger type crib (as used on the beach by foreigners in Germany). Welcomed by the sunshine and the fresh air as the waves crashed on the beach at our feet, we were about to start with a wonderful weekend of socializing and photography.

There is something every special about being an hour from the city in a place surrounded by natural vegetation, abundant bird life, from both ostriches, to the squadrons of pelicans in the sky above. In fact, we were often greeted by small buck roaming around the outskirts of the house. As the sun started to set on the horizon, the flowers, still being in full bloom this time of year, retracted their petals. This was definitely nature’s way of closing for the day as the light began to change. Cameras out, glasses full, we ventured on foot, with the dogs of course, down to the beach to capture the energy and beauty of all the elements and excitement around us, something you do not experience in the city. Yes, a totally different buzz. The sunsets during the golden hour are something words cannot describe; the colors and the transformations are forever spectacular as they blend in with the sand formations created by the wind and currents from the winter months. It was just us and the beach and the elements, all our senses peaked as we cherished this moment.

Followed by a well-prepared meal from our hosts and lots of banter, we discussed and viewed the afternoons photography moments. This is a fantastic way to meet people that are passionate and like-minded in an environment that is laid back and at the same time educational.

Up early and greeted by Peanut, one of the 4-legged family members, a full breakfast was served to equip us for our day ahead. We were off to the small town of Darling. We sacrificed the golden hour with the choice of sleeping in a bit and having breakfast, and decided to scout the town and the landscape for our next photography location. This was really amazing, the colors of the hills, the architecture of both landscape and small-town lifestyle made this easy work with the abundance for choices wherever you looked.

Do yourself a favor when next in Darling, visit the butcher. Wow, that is all I have to say, the free-range quality of the meat is definitely the real deal. Interestingly enough, this butchery became our next project, of indoor reportage, photographing the happenings and the surroundings that made this establishment so special. I had never imagined a butchery could make such an interesting project for portraiture and lifestyle.

The next place on the map we decided to visit was Yzerfontein, another small town, close by and on the coast, situated just on the other side of Darling. Like the butchery, we were introduced to the legendary bakery. A special place with freshly baked breads and niceties like their Pasteis de Nata’s, something we had to phone and reserve as they sell out fast… just saying, in case you a fan, phone ahead of time to avoid disappointment. Again, this made for a really great picture moment, as the baker kneaded the dough with his hands, massaging the flour into various shapes and sizes, before placing the large steel trays into the industrial ovens to bake. It was such a privilege to actually be part of this process. Photographing food is wonderful, as it is very colorful and creative in the way it is prepared and presented. We were very fortunate to see the entire process, and of course sample and rate the result… 5 star all round.

We decided we take some time out and later that afternoon, we ventured into natures pastures to a really special place, dotted with flowers of all shapes and sizes, opening onto a dam type lake with purple hills on the horizon. Not only did we have fun with our cameras learning about light and composition, as well as the art of macro photography, we had Peanut as our “swim model” dipping and playing in the water, while the ostriches showed their curiosity and interest from behind the fence until the sunset.


I am just sharing one day with you, as this was both a special and rewarding experience that I highly recommend.