Autumnal light cascades through the intersecting branches of a small avenue of plane trees. The occasional hoot peppers the ambient buzzing soundscape of Braamfontein. Adjacent, buildings are covered in corrugated shadow. Tucked away – just off Henri Street – a concrete and steel structure houses Lightfarm: a fine arts and photographic print studio.
The space is filled with machines, occasionally making quirky beeps or sprouting reams of paper. Andreas Vlachakis and Amichai Tahor started the business in late 2007 – initially working with up-coming artists. A decade later, these artists have grown and so has Lightfarm. The likes of Zanele Muholi, Ayana Jackson, Paul Shiakallis and Mary Sibande have worked with the studio from the outset.
The studio positions itself as a space of production. However, this is not limited to the technical element of printing. Andreas and Amichai resonate with the notion of the print studio embodying collaboration. This is the heart of their focus. Their partnership relies on this kind of dynamism and fluidity.
Both Andreas and Amichai draw on different backgrounds. Andreas comes from a photographic tradition of photojournalism, having worked for many years at the Star. Whereas, Amichai comes from a fine arts background and focuses on interdisciplinary projects. They jest that if a client doesn’t like the one, they are bound to like the other. Through their combined experience they draw on an incredible history and wealth of knowledge – one that translates through a spectrum of projects.
The democratisation of the camera – through the accessibility of digital photography and phone cameras – has revolutionised the space of photography and modes of archiving through documentation. Andreas and Amichai pivot their practice on the mastery of when the digital is manifest in physical and tangible space. They’re intrigued to see how this eruption in accessible images alters cultural production, especially in relation to the youth.