Photography by Gina van der Ploeg

The photographer capturing the beauty of the natural world

Gina van der Ploeg is a Cape Town based photographer who doesn’t just enjoy a pristine landscape, she enjoys recording it too. “My photographs become a kind of panoramic list of places I’ve been to and expanses I’ve looked upon”, she tells DEAD TOWN. Her lens is drawn to soft surfaces, to flowers, grass, clouds and water that touches “dramatic horizon lines”. With her work she wishes to highlight “the beauty of textures and detail interspersed with landscapes” that she finds both whimsical and comforting. “Seeing the world through this analogue frame helps me to appreciate beauty in the small and the big things, and just to be grateful for my eyes and all that they experience…”

Her process is done from the outside, in – as she works outdoors and does not stage her compositions. Walking around, looking through her viewfinder, adjusting her levels and trying to not be too hesitant to use her film, she snaps. Bodies of work take on a versatile tone as she often re-visits her archive of old images and combines them with newer depictions. Gina’s appreciation of photography stems from its ability to convey stories. She views photography as a “relatively quick way to portray something beautiful or something new, nostalgic or to direct the way someone thinks about an object or a landscape.” She enjoys being in nature and creating work that is “beyond simply looking” but that forms an experience for the viewer. On her choice to shoot analogue Gina tells DEAD TOWN, “When I wait to receive a newly developed roll of film, that anticipation reminds me why I shoot film. It’s a tangible, physical process. The limited number of shots helps me to focus on the photograph I am taking. I love the mechanical click of the shutter and love knowing that other people have used my cameras before me, that they had a life before I started using them.”

When photographing the first thing Gina gives attention to is the light, making use of natural light she is sure to work with her light meter to let in as much light as possible for the best resulting image. “I like the idea of having to be sensitive and respond to what is physically in the picture; the light becomes a very palpable part of taking the photograph.”

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