Over the last few weeks, we’ve featured a few photos from Different.org’s trip to Venda to tell the story of the Flying for Life cataract surgery programme. Today, we’d like to introduce you to photographer Jono Wood, who took photos of the people we met.
What inspired you to become a photographer?
After high school a friend and I paddled the full length of the Orange River for three months, my mother gave me her old film camera and told me to take photographs. I haven’t stopped since. My friend had a video camera and that is now his profession too.
What do you love most about photography as a way of telling people’s stories?
I love how we immortalise present moments, we make time stand still within a photograph like a time capsule. The essence of photography is very pure, we document real events just as they are, we freeze them in time.
Is there a particular story or person you’d love to photograph? If so, who and why?
At the moment I’d love to go photograph a story about obscure weather patterns all over the world. Looking at drought, flooding, ice caps melting and the effects of this on the people affected.
What story have you most enjoyed capturing and why?
One of my favourite stories to photograph has been my last trip where I backpacked from Johannesburg to Zanzibar photographing the whole way up. The sense of freedom and adventure coupled with capturing once in a lifetime moments made this a very special experience for me.
What are some of the challenges you face on the job?
It depends what I am photographing but it can be dangerous at times, people not wanting their photographs taken or just difficult terrain to be photographing and moving through.
Thoughts on the Flying for Life story: did you go with any expectations and/or preconceptions?
I didn’t have any expectations before-hand, like most things I like to have a look for myself and see what is going on before forming any expectations or opinions. I was very impressed with Flying For Life, their dedication towards removing cataracts is inspiring and making a huge difference in people’s lives. The surgeon only does one eye at a time and I suppose this is to operate on more people and see more results. People I photographed who had one eye operated on were carrying on with their lives very nicely and had regained their independence and in my cases, retaken their position as the family’s provider.
Any advice for people considering photography as a career?
Put your head down and work really hard as an assistant for a successful photographer who inspires you. Always shoot your own stories, this is where you grow and find your style.
If you got to choose one issue in South Africa that you could change, what would it be?
I’d open people’s perspectives on South Africa, teach them to see situations from many different angles. Not see problems but opportunities.
What do you love most about South Africa?
That it’s all here. We can mix and move through so many cultures, subcultures and diverse environments just by jumping in the car and exploring.
Find Jono on Instagram at @jonowoodinjozi.