Living in the largest city in South Africa has certainly provided Bronwyn Gardiner (@bron_gardiner) access to some truly beautiful views and she’s taken advantage of her surroundings by honing her photography skills. Both her digital and film work are beyond impressive and serve as evidence of her love for capturing beauty and her commitment to presenting every capture as she originally saw it. We had a great time getting to know more about Bronwyn and her photography and we put it together for all of you to follow along with. Check it out!
My name is Bronwyn Gardiner and I live in a city called Durban on the coast of South Africa - for now.
I would have never known that one day Instagram would’ve given me an opportunity, such as this one, to share with you guys who I am inside and outside of the social media world. I recently quit my boring, monotonous job and am currently winging it at life. I have future plans of studying and travelling (the most common of dreams I suppose, but the most rewarding too) and hopes to further myself in photography at one stage.
I love all things wild and adventurous. You can usually find myself and my partner (@jonkat323), who is my greatest inspiration in all of this, exploring misty forests, hiking through mountain ranges, missioning to find waterfalls and so on. Nature is my playground for photography.
How did you first get into photography?
Starting from a young age, I always found myself interested in photography – my dream job was to become a professional photographer (little did I know it wasn’t that easy, especially having no artistic talent nor photographic skill, being the left-brainer that I am). As I grew older, that dream seemed to become more and more unrealistic. I eventually gave up my hopes of that dream career.
Many years later I got my hands on two 35mm film cameras, both in perfect working condition, at a second-hand market. It was a lucky find! I was beyond excited because I had seen a few of my friends shooting film, and uploading their shots onto Instagram. I was super intrigued at the thought of it. I started shooting film and fell in love immediately. I would say this is how I first got into photography, in the most amateur sense.
I am currently shooting with an entry-level digital camera as well - a Canon 1100D - and really enjoying it. So I am pretty much still getting into the swing of photography, and I’m loving every new opportunity I get to experiment with it.
How has social media played a role in your work?
Social media has played a big role in my work. The constant feedback I get from the pictures I upload serves as such motivation to keep shooting and sharing my work with people. I use social media as my incentive to go out and explore, finding new spots to go wild with taking photos. Instagram, being my main platform of social media, has allowed me to find new inspirations, to make new friends from all across the world, and has given me this opportunity to be interviewed by you guys, which I am so stoked about! Seeing the world through the way thousands of people capture it in their own unique way is such a resolute form of inspiration.
When you are out shooting, how much of it is instinctual versus planned?
I would say 50/50. Every chance we get, myself and @jonkat323 are constantly planning our next adventure to go out and shoot. We plan which areas to head to depending on the weather, etc. But once we're there, the natural tendencies kick in and explore mode turns on.
I don't go out with shots planned in advance, I shoot whatever catches my eye at the time (unless I had a conceptual photo idea in my head that I wanted to give a go at) The fun is in following whatever path looks good or wandering around intriguing areas I think will produce great shots. I go out to explore, the photos just become a result of that.
What does your editing process generally look like?
I start off by editing my raw shots in Lightroom. I always adjust the temperature, exposure, shadows and hue to my preference – tuning the image in Lightroom allows me to edit much more easily in other apps. I normally find myself lowering the saturation in most edits, I enjoy the mood that doing so brings. Split toning and colour adjusting enable me to really bring out the colours I want. I find that by doing so it builds onto the mood and the tones I’m trying to create. Getting the tone in an edit right is important to me! I end in Lightroom by adding a film preset (usually one from VSCO film 05 - Canon). I love the look these presets give my shot.
The fun then begins once I import the adjusted shot into Mextures on my phone. I have some formulas that I usually add straight away and voilà! I’m happy with my edit. However, sometimes it takes a bit more effort. I don’t mind when this happens of course. It gives me an opportunity to play around with textures and create new formulas.
I usually go straight into the Anomaly, Grit & Grain, and Landscape Enhance packs – these being my 3 favourite. I find myself using “Winter Skies”, “Spacedust” and “Noise Complaint” more than often in most of my edits. Occasionally I add some light leaks from any of the four packs. These are fun to work with and I like the look it adds to an edit. Mextures provides the tools I need to create the final mood and look I want in my edited photos.
You mentioned formulas. Would you mind sharing a few with the Mextures community?
Of course! Formula sharing is caring!
SYYWKDE - Death Bed - Light leaked and grainy! Contrary to the name, I would say this is one of my “prettier” formulas. It gives compatible shots a golden and mystical look.
ZGAAYAB – Existential - This formula adds cold, earthy tones to photos. I enjoy using this formula for misty (foggy) shots as I feel it works well with the mood I’m trying to create.
SCYJBBG – Athena - A lot of grit and grain in this one. This formula adds more character, which is what I think Mextures is all about! I find it works well with outdoorsy shots.
ETRDLSG – Cold Air - The name explains it all, as you’ll see. The Winter Skies texture is strong in this one and gives photos an eerie vibe. I used this formula as a starting point for most of the formulas that I've created.
What is it that you want to communicate with your work?
The earth is such an exquisite place and the fact that I get to go out and take photos of it is so exciting to me! Photography is an art form; capturing picturesque moments and preserving them for life! Getting to share these moments with other people is so terrific. I want viewers to take appreciation of this art form and appreciation of the great outdoors, away from my work. To remind people of the beautiful side of life that our everyday routines sometimes distract us from.
In your opinion, what makes a piece memorable?
To me, personally, if the photo is worth remembering, it means it holds actual memories that really appeal to me. If a certain photo is memorable, chances are I had a real good time taking the shot. I’ll look at the picture and think about what a great day that was, or how remarkable the moment I captured was. The more fun I have while out shooting, the more memorable the shots will be to me.
To others, I think what makes a photo of mine memorable to them is how they emotionally connect to the shot, hopefully in the same way I do. A photo that captured their attention the most and made them stare at it in awe.
What inspires you to create and to photograph more than anything else?
My main reason, or inspiration, to why I go out and shoot may seem a little far-fetched, but it’s something that means a lot to me and I’m trying to be as authentic as possible here! I strongly feel that Mother Nature and all that she entails have been greatly taken advantage of - so little people appreciate what is around us! Every day the earth is deteriorating due to massive environmental issues (issues like global warming, deforestation, overpopulation etc. It’s scary stuff!). Most people turn a blind eye to all of this purely because they just don’t like to believe it’s happening even though it is. And right in front of their eyes! I don’t mean to sound like a despairing preacher of greenpeace, but this is one of the biggest reasons as to why I go out and try to photograph as much of the world as I can, before it’s too late in a sense – starting off here in South Africa! I hope my photos motivate people to pick up a camera and get out there themselves!
Another thing that inspires me to keep shooting is the fact that I can share my adventures with people all around the world who have the same interests as me. It makes me eager to go out and take photos. As I mentioned before, social media as a whole is a great way to inspire us photographers to keep at it. The feedback is motivating enough to keep us photographing and creating!
What have you found to be your biggest challenge in developing your photographic work?
I'm the worst kind of perfectionist when it comes to anything I do. I would say the most challenging aspect of my photographic work is the editing part. It's frustrating for me not to get a shot to look the way I'd like it to. I'll look at a photo I just edited for too long and then start to overthink it - feeling like it's not the best I could do or that the actual photo isn't good enough. That's when I just give it all a break and get back to it later, letting my creativity build up again.
What is your favorite photo that you’ve captured so far?
The reason I choose this photo as my favorite is because of the details and the character it has. The focus on the water, with the mountains in the distance make this shot so appealing to me. I took this photo on film and edited it with Mextures - the two make a great combo!
Who are the people that have most inspired your work?
Seeing great photographs by other fellow Instagrammers has always been a great inspiration to go out and create my own work. There have been so many since I first started, but the following people have been the most influential over the past few months:
My friend Jarryd Watson, known as Rod (@____rod_) on Instagram, has helped me in a lot with regards to film and digital photography. Before he ventured off to live in Canada, myself, Jonkat, and Jarryd often went on the coolest photo missions. His work continually inspires me. He's an expert at film and king at Mextures!
@shadowontherun is a huge inspiration to me. Her clean, beautifully photographed work blows my mind with every picture she shares! The places she visits and captures are such inspiration to get out there and see the rest of the world.
@camillolongo captures mood so perfectly. His photos are so beautifully edited. I really enjoy the consistency of his work. His feed is definitely a favourite of mine as it's always inspiring to see such great work.
@lisapbg has such a wonderful way of capturing nature around her. Her photos are so delicate and have such a great mood. Her work and editing style is so inspiring.
@_cantus_ is such a friendly guy with such beautiful work. I enjoy the way he captures the places he visits and his great Mextures edits are always inspirational.
@_soothsayer and @chelsea.stormcrow are two ladies who shoot film and have the most perfect mood and eeriness in their work. I really enjoy seeing their photos on Instagram. Their work is also very inspiring!