When the camera turns on you!

I was blasted into the past, almost to a different time – the time of the medium format trannie – with this image.

Angie Lazaro in Meditation

Angie Lazaro in Meditation

Those were my Farilady days. I was the Picture Editor/ Photographer at the time. The magazine was running an article on meditation. At that stage the magazine preferred to photograph their own images instead of plucking them from picture libraries. My best was to conceptualise and come up with ways of illustrating the various articles.

This shot, was taken by my assistant – I was the ‘model’.
The process: Set-up the shot then once into position, either get someone to trigger, or use a remote trigger.
On the day, the stylist, Danny Toua, and the picture researcher, Kelly Smith, with a large super-heavy picnic basket containing all the camera equipment necessary sneaked into the forest. It was a last minute picture request so we didn’t have the luxury to arrange a permit. Riddled with guilt we pretended to go for a girly afternoon picnic, we smiled and waved as we sauntered past the guard.
This was about 10 years ago, the days of film, when everything was as a little more cumbersome, more difficult to set-up and time consuming waiting for Polaroid’s to develop to check light etc.
The glare effect was added later during post-production.

After all this time, I still like this shot!

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Pretty, Dirty, Rich

There is something particularly exciting and challenging about shooting fashion with models on location. Usually the weather conditions are not the same as when you first scouted the location, so its important to readjust and switch into a different mode (not wish for what you don’t have, but work with what awaits you).

It was a perfect day at the poolside. The swimwear was stunning and the models were gorgeous and so much fun! I have had a fair amount of shoots with inexperienced models and that makes a shoot harder and frustrating. Directing the model and pre-empt every pose takes the photographer’s focus away from creating real magic. It’s great for me to see how the model moves, and then see what is unfolding and then capturing shape, form, light, shadow and expression in the right combination to create the mood.

Our male model is from Brazil, he definitely worked his Latin look. Our female model, is South African and had featured in Sports Illustrated, and knew just how to work her body. The shoot had a sultry yet a tangible filthy rich feel.

Alexis Chaffe (fashion editor), had selected some interesting costume jewellery to finish off the looks. We had Carl Isaacs on board doing the hair and make-up. It was fresh, with such great colour. The TV crew joined us for a day in the sun and shot behind the scenes footage. Not only did they do their interviews and filming but I gained a few more assistants, holding reflectors and adjusting this and that.

Shooting in midday sun in South Africa has it’s challenges. The harsh black shadows can either work against you or with you, depending what you do and how your decide to shoot the fashion story.

I shot in straight sunlight, some dappled light, some reflected light and against the sunlight. Even though I used the light differently it is important to make sure the editorial reads as one story and not just stand alone images.

Photography: Angie Lazaro
Photographer’s assistant & behind the scenes photographer: Tiro Sauls
Fashion: Alexis Chaffe
Hair and make-up: Carl Issacs
Models: Bruno and Shane, Full Circle Models
Top Billing TV Crew – Insert director: Lars Schwingers; Cameraman: Wimpie Ackermann; Sound engineer: David Minaar

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The student years – circa 1996

I discoverd an old disc with these images from one of my first websites I created as a student at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. All the black and white images were shot on film and printed in the darkroom. The level of excitement to see what you captured on a strip of negatives is something that is practically gone forever or, perhaps I just need to dust off my enlarger and hang out in the dark!

Student Fashion

Jackie was also a photojournalism student, and I roped her and her boyfriend, Steve, to a shoot on a Sunday morning. We had so much fun finding places to shoot. Oooh, I do remember that stinky toilet. I, at least, was outside the cubicle!
Then there was Graunt a fellow Journalism student keen to do some shots in the theatre, if I remember correctly I used one red head (tungsten) light, bare bulb. These lights always became very hot.

Nude exhibitions

Since my third year I exhibited every year during the Grahamstown festival. I focused on producing a nude exhibition each year. Bodily Impressions was the first, shot in the forest. The second was shot in water, I loved the distortions this work was called The Limnetic Zone and I exhibited with Tanya Poole’s underwater paintings. Skin & Scales featured, Monty the python photographed at the brick works. Body Dance was photographed on stage as the dancer moved and danced.


Traveling has always inspired me to photograph the architecture in different ways. This is a collection of images shot in London and Koln.

First Physical Dance Theatre

Ever since I photographed a dance class, I was hooked… I loved the movement, the angles, the light, the physical grace of the dancers and the absolute challenge to capture the motion. I was in awe of what they could do, slide across the stage – always bruised but such magnificence. Shooting was a challenge with film you ‘knew’ if you had the shot – to be confirmed later in the darkroom, or not.
Gary Gordon was the mastermind behind First Physical Dance Theatre, the works he produced were always spectacular and pure perfection.

Gary Gordon

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Fashion Photography Images

A collection of some of my fashion photography work: Ah, my favourites for now!

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A day in the life of Angie Lazaro

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Travel: España

A version of this article appeared on Elle Deocoration‘s site for their 25th Birthday International Issue.

Escaping the SA winter I headed to the warm lands of Spain. I sensed that this trip was going to be different – I was armed with a guidebook, my ancestry and Ernest Hemingway’s e-book The Sun Also Rises written in 1929 (about Pamplona’s running with the bulls).

Traveling in our hired car we left Barcelona and found our way through a picturesque country filled with historic towns. I never once put down my camera as we explored Sos del Rey Católico in the province of Zaragoza and into Basque’s Olite, Vitoria and Bilbao.

This is a land where architects are celebrated, each new structure is a masterpiece, take Frank O. Gehry’s post structuralist style with his spectacular Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao and then to see his distinctive design at Marqués de Riscal wine estate, in Rioja and of course the Rioja wines, another experience to celebrate.

With culture and history come the festivals, and the most famous is San Fermín (the running of the bulls – the Enciero) in Pamplona. We were dressed in white with the traditional red scarf and sash. The first bull run of the week-long celebration happens at 8am, where testosterone congregates in the narrow streets as the bulls chase the crowd – people get trampled, knocked over and some get ‘corneado’ (horn injury). We didn’t join that lot, though, but we lapped up the festivities and continuous party.

Once we recovered we headed for the Costa Brava, Catalonia. We went beach hopping starting at Cadaqués and going southward. Imagine swimming in the azure Mediterranean with the historic 12th century Tossa de Mar castle on the highest point. We, of course, ate our way around the country feasting on several courses of croquetas, jamón, chorizo, paella, fabada, tortilla de patata, sardines, pinxos, turrón and tapas.

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Condé Nast House & Garden – Contributors

The editors letter and the featured contributors for the July issue of the magazine!

Cropped contributors insert

Conde Naste editor’s letter and contributors page

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The end of an era: Cover Shoot

Cover shoot with Isidingo’s most manipulative characters: Cherel and Katlego

Michelle Botes must be one of the most recognizable faces, (she gets around the soapie sets, and of course never dies but seems to kill off everyone else); I wonder how many hours she has featured on our tv screens – probably more than Riaan Cruywagen or about the same?

On my first assignment with Top Billing in 2006, I had the pleasure of meeting Michelle and her son Daniel for the first time. This was an insert for the tv show as well as the magazine – a skiing trip on the snowy slopes of Lesotho there is an interesting story about that shoot which I will share soon. Five years on I would get to photograph Michelle again and it would also mark the last Top Billing Cover shoot. We came full circle together – I like that thought!


This time Michelle and her colleague, fellow actress Kgomotso Christopher were to feature on the cover. Kgomotso has such a haunting presence in the way that she moves and yet she has such a strong personality. We started the shoot with the images that would appear on the inside feature of the magazine, with Michelle in a sheer pink dress by David Tlale.

I wanted a soft fresh feel to this shot. I specifically wanted to overexpose the light seeping through the windows, making the image look as natural as possible. She almost looks like she belongs in a fairytale.

With Kgomotso I went for a more dramatic but romantic look. In a dark brown velvet gown she looked mysterious and pensive. There is a silent drama, and yet a feminine gentleness to this image.

The day wasn’t without it’s challenges. There was a wedding about to take place at the venue: Westcliff Hotel. We had to hurry things along. We did another three shots to go with both Michelle and Kgomotso, one exposing their “super-bitch” Isidingo characters and another as a cover option with more charm than venom.

The final image was to be the cover. Shot in the garden, while we watched hoping that none of the wedding guests arrived early. There was no time to over-think anything!



I was so humbled when Michelle said: “My favourite part was working with Angie again – magic!”

The team: Photography: Angie Lazaro; Production: Hayden Fortmann; Art Direction: Julia Fell; Hair and Make-up: Nikkila Mann; Stylist: Jessica Lupton

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Namibia: Dunes that roar

Something I wrote on a trip to Namibia shooting two hotels in 2008, it made me smile when I read it again….

Usually on trips for Top Billing Magazine, I would be accompanied by a the TV crew or magazine colleagues but not this time. Paul, the Top Billing driver, dropped me at the airport and I was on my own pushing a trolley pilled with oddly shaped black bags which resulted in some sideways stares and intrigued whispers. I swiftly moved to the check-in counter – the madame too one look at my trolley and said: ‘you are taking, “all that”.’ I smiled sweetly and said well most of it is hand luggage. She was at a loss as to what to say. My itinerary made no sense either: whichever planes I was to be on and when, would have to be explained to me. Back to madame, I think she felt sorry for me and said that I should go to my gate early as it was at the other end of the airport. Off I went, but er, a huge sign said NO TROLLEYS IN LIFT. I asked the cleaner if it mattered and she dared me to break the rules. Ok I had an ally so off I went just as I stepped into the lift over the intercom in perfect pronunciation and pitch of my not so South African name I was summonsed to the ticket and sales counter. For a second there I thought I had been caught out with trolley and bags; blushing slightly I reversed out of the lift and backtracked to the counter. Just a minor adjustment in my ticket issuing procedure, ah whatever! Through customs, though duty free… all very tempting but even the most enthusiastic shopper would have trouble with a 40kg backpack, pro tripod, laptop and of course the girls handbag with everything in it. So blinkers on, and off to gate B2 I went. The waiting game, where no one says anything but judgment is passed silently, yet not so discretely. Of course in the queue someone had to say something to the obvious fact that this is a photographer… look people this is not a machine gun but close, it can shoot. So in true spirit some dude assumed I would be photographing the dunes or some such thing. Getting on the plane was fine up to the part when I couldn’t get the back-pack to squeeze in the overhead compartment. Ready to give in on the impatient passengers mounting irritation; as if they the plane was going anywhere without them. The air-hostess was way more determined than I was, and she forced the backpack in with a tug-and-a-twist, ‘voila’. Sit.
I was stunned at the beauty or rather the unexpected landscape that awaited me. There was just desert all around. At the Walvis Bay airport, through customs, the unbearable silences and piercing looks trying to pry out illegalness.
And there, I almost missed it, in front of me was the smallest luggage carousel with almost a 90 degree twist, pretending to go someplace. Well I guess it is better than Oudshoorn where you and your luggage are deposited on the tarmac (but that is another story).
In a fabulously air conditioned hotel bus, I, the only passenger, was taken to the Swakopmund hotel, and old railway station – very colonial looking built in 1901 I was told several times. Cool time to meet the GM and then off to one suite, and another; shooting the hotel inside out.
The next day we squeezed in some quad biking. Yay. It was breathtaking, firstly to be actually riding on the dunes, their overwhelming beauty and then the roar of the dune. My crazy guide took it upon himself to be my personal guide and to make sure I had the most fun and the best experience in the shortest time possible. I even went dune/sand boarding… and he took the pictures! Great to be in the action for a change. Eventually we abandoned my bike (kinda slow) and went on his – both of us. Wow, this little machine had power, we picked up speed up and over and beyond the dunes. He even did a wheelie with me on the bike, yeah, it did feel as if I was going to fall off. Have you ever ridden on the crest of a dune? One edge is a sheer drop and the other a smooth tumble. Time was running out and we collected my quad bike but there was one more thing to do. Ontop of a steep dune we turned off the bikes and let them slide down the sheer drop. Using only our brakes to prolong the experience. There is was this roar, or was it the sound of a jet – it was the dune. Apparently the weight of the bikes compresses the air between the grains of sand but the sound that emerges seems inexplicable, my brain could not compute the strange deep sound. An incredible experience. I barely made it on time, with sand still in my nose and ears, onto the 20 seater plane to Windhoek to shoot one more hotel.

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The camera and the clown – shooting portraits

Recently, I was commissioned to shoot a portrait and well, it reminds me of all those difficult sitters who don’t want to be in front of the camera. “Oh, I hate being photographed!” they say, as they look into my lights as if they are coming right at them at speed. In fact, if you think about it; getting so close with a camera can be quite an intimate situation, putting the power squarely on the photographer. I understand this so well, as a child I would cry every time someone wanted to take a picture of me… go figure, what was going on in my young mind (so it is probably best to not analyse too much why someone hates being photographed and just get on with it – unless of course they think you are stealing their soul).
As an adult I have just learnt to use the camera for my own devices whether in front of behind it.
It’s all about evolving, so on the moment of the shoot, you have to get the person you are photographing to evolve with you, to distract them so they forget that this is something horrid to feeling, “wow, this was fun”. Yes, sometimes you have to be the clown, the court jester just to get the shot.
First off, you have to connect with the subject, talk to them, chitchat to them while you are setting up. Ask them stuff about themselves, complement them… you know all the social skills you have developed up to this point – use them. You won’t get very far if you are demure, quiet, aloof, distant and arrogant.
Some people are very difficult and tricky to get them to relax, but so long as you are relaxed and appear in control, you are one step closer to getting the shot.
When you place them in position, it’s almost like instant freeze, nervous twitches and that glazed-over terrified look. I let them know that I will guide them through the whole process – I talk randomly about what I am doing with the light as I fiddle etc. You don’t want them to feel as if they‘re at a dentist, where things get done to them. This is a partnership between them and you.
Never turn you back to them, particularly when you are analysing your digital captures and your head is buried into technical scrutiny, let them know what you are doing, every step of the way. Let them know when you are softening, cranking up the light and engage with them, show them the pics too. I have had some people get so into the shoot that by the end of it they are posing out of their own volition.
If there is an unsightly blemish, reassure them of the wonders of photoshop… most people are self conscious of one thing or another and the word ‘photoshop’ is like their faerie godmother that will transform them into their dream self – mmm well, not quite.
Almost a decade ago I had to photograph a woman in her late 60s for a magazine, she was so unbelievable camera shy, or had sheer camera fear. I had, had difficult people before but nothing had prepared me for this. We discussed the spot in her house where we would shoot the portrait, and discussed her hair and everything else. I placed the lights and positioned the camera on the tripod (the days of heavy medium format film cameras). So there were no variables she was not aware off, but she sat there and looked great and relaxed until the very moment my head looked through the viewfinder. Loss of eye contact, and I lost her. She would jump up and run to the bathroom to fix her hair, we tried again, same thing off she went to get a glass of water, and again, she was finally running out of things to go and do. I got her to look into the lens while I looked at her, everything was set so I just clicked, and clicked and clicked as I kept my eyes on her, constantly getting her to look into camera (that was the brief for the image).
I only shot one roll of film with 12 frames, but that was all I needed and a ton of patience.

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