23 December 2011


Whilst taking a rest day from climbing in Oudtshoorn I took a drive down the road and took a shots Anna, a poor farm laborer on a nearby farm. Another reality check on how many people in SA live :(


A day off from climbing I took shots of Jean Du Preez welding in his workshop in Barrydale.

14 December 2011

Cool Like That

Got a shot of Alex Bester on Cool Like That 29/7c+ at the Scoop in Montagu on my recent trip there. I find this crag really difficult to shoot for some reason and still haven't found a way to get the look i want from it. Anyway here's Alex looking focused on his send...

Alex Bester sending Cool Like That 29/7c+

A Perfect Boulder

Some more shots I took of The Hatchling 8A whilst shooting for Adidas. This must be one of the most photogenic boulders in Rocklands.

Melissa Le Neve on The Hatchling

Katarina Saurwein on The Hatcling

09 December 2011

I shot a tester video clip bouldering with Marijus Smilgelskis this week for a possible future project. Here is the quick and dirty edit with no tricks, color correction or audio mix. Its just footage straight from the camera slapped together in a few hours. If you can select HD on, its better.

08 December 2011

Secret Garden

Today I took a rekkie hike with Marijus Smigelskis to look at a secret bouldering area which i'm keen to possibly film. Here are 2 of the test stills shots

06 December 2011

experiments in the kloof

I haven't been focusing on climbing shots very much lately. I did however take my camera out the other day whilst Benji de Charmoy was working Wipeout 32/8b at SuperTubes in Montagu. Its not the prettiest piece of rock to shoot so I struggled capturing anything i liked that day. This shot i thought was ok ... there are definitely better places to shoot in Montagu however.

Benji holding the cutloose on the crux of Wipeout 32/8b a short bouldery route in Badkloof, Montagu

12 November 2011

Eight Stories

On a day off from work i spent some time with the Riverkids project in Cambodia, back in 2009. They have used some of my photos for fund raising and awareness and made a book featuring eight stories about child trafficking. Here is shot of mine which they used for the cover of their book. Please take some time to check out their website and support an amazing cause. www.riverkidsproject.org

I'll hopefully upload a few more of the images from the book soon. Click the image if you want to link straight to the page where you can buy the book.

26 October 2011

Addidas Rocklands

I spent a day in my favourite place in the world Rocklands shooting two of Addidas' recently sponsored rock climbers Melissa Le Neve and Katharina Saurwein. They were super inspiring climbers to spend time with for a day, sending 8a's with ease for the camera. They were also just really great people to hang out with. Here are a few of the shots from the day. More can be seen on my website at www.mickywiswedel.com

Melissa Le Neve (left) and Katharina Saurwein (right)

Kathatrina sending Black Shadow 8A+

Melissa cruising on the classic highball Creaking Heights 6C+

Melissa sending The Rhino 7B+

Melissa sending The Hatchling 8A

checking out moves on The Hatchling

Katharina working The Hatchling 8A

Katharina on Barracuda 8A

Melissa sending Nutsa 8A+

20 October 2011


An article about me and my work as a photographer was recently published in the Polish climbing mag Gory. The shot of me is by another great SA climbing photographer Dirk Smith. Thanks to Wojtek Kozakiewicz taking the time to track me down and put the article together.

here's the link to the magazines online site, check them out http://www.goryonline.com/

The English Translation

1). You graduated from sound engineering. Do you still have any connection with that kind of thing? What was the trigger to begin taking photos? Do you remember how you started? Your first camera, first photo that you've been proud of, first published photo?

Yes, sound engineering is still my main source of work and income. I haven't really been taking photo's for that long, maybe 4-5 years, so i still make most of money through sound engineering. This is changing though, and more of my income is being made through photography, hopefully it will be my only job in the next 2 years. 

Climbing is what got me started in photography. I bought my first camera to take climbing photo's but as i learnt more about photography i started taking interest in other types of photo's and started branching out. Its a continuos process i think, and i try to learn something new every day. My first camera was the Canon 30D which i bought while recording sound for an IMAX movie on the annual sardine run in South Africa. My first published photo was for one of the big news papers here, i was working with someone to gain some experience but the editor liked my shots for the day better and used them for a large spread on page 2 of the paper. They offered me a job but unfortunately the pay was much lower than what i earned doing sound so i declined.

2). You live in South Africa. What is the best in your opinion place in your country for making climbing photos? Do you have any favourite one? Could you tell more about this places? Is Rocklands the only place worth to visit?

Rocklands is definitely the most popular and well known climbing area in SA and its very a beautiful place to photograph. There are however many other places that are very good for bouldering, sport and trad climbing. Unfortunately they maybe are not as good as Rocklands which is one of the best places in the world so they dont get the media attention. However, if you were to visit South Africa i could definitely recommend a sport climbing area called Waterval Boven, its really beautiful with over 500 world class sport routes up to 8c. There is amazing trad climbing around most of the country and many new bouldering areas being developed. in fact Paul Robinson is coming down this year for month or two just to climb the boulders around Cape Town and not even visit Rocklands. I think he was really impressed by what other areas we have. I'm considering putting a photo piece together with some video of the bouldering in Cape Town which is not Rocklands.

3). South Africa is a multiculture place. Does it influance on your attitute to photography? How do you find yourself in different, new cultures?

Culturally South Africa is an amazing place, there are so many different people here and its full of energy. It definately has influenced my photography and shooting people and different cultures is what i love shooting the most. I find it really easy to photograph when you are somewhere new and in a different culture as everything is new and exciting and you cant help but shoot. I feel very lucky to be living in such vibrant and changing country. 

4). Last summer you've been in Spain for a 7 weeks trip. How did you find cooperation with polish climber Agata Wisniewska on Kalea Borroka? :) What similarities and differences can you find between climbing photography in Europe and South Africa? 

Aaah Spain! I love that place, so much great climbing its like a dream. This was one of my favorite climbing trips ever and i met so many really inspiring and cool people, like Agata. She was really cool to hang out with in the camp and really fun to watch climbing, she is also a little naughty and enjoyed stealing our clothes from the showers and playing other jokes on us. I have been planning some revenge tactics for when we meet again, hehe. Actually all the Polish people we met we really friendly and strong, if all the poles are like the ones we met i think Poland must be a super friendly and fun country!

Shooting in Spain was different and i learnt quite a bit. The rock i find more difficult to shoot as it is very white and textured which makes it difficult to see the line of the climb in a photo. Its unlike Waterval Boven rock which is a beautiful orange color with a line of chalk marks heading up the wall. In Europe though there are so many strong climbers its really easy to shoot people on amazing climbs which is something we dont have as much back home, where the climbing community is much smaller so we dont have as many very strong climbers. I suppose everywhere you shoot has its own unique challenges and they are places where you can learn something new

I didnt take as many photo's as i should have on that trip and this is becoming a trend in my photography. I love climbing and i find that when i take photo's of climbing i dont get to climb as much for myself. So lately, i haven't even been taking my camera climbing with me as i'd rather climb myself than take pictures of people climbing. I do have some climbing photo projects in my mind though, so i'm not going to stop taking climbing photo's entirely :)

5). You have visited a lot of exotic places, eg. Badami in India. What do you prefer: exploring new places or catching well known aeras from different perspective?

Shooting in new areas i find easier as the newness of the area is an inspiration to shoot. But trying to capture something interesting and different in place that has had lots of exposure is also a valuable challenge but it takes a lot more motivation. But yes, i much prefer somewhere new and different.

6). As a photographer you're dealing with different topics. In the beginning of this year you've been in Cameroon to document the first in the history of this country election campaign, in which a woman took part in. How did you get involve in this topic? How do you find a contact with different culture and mentality? Could you please write something more about this venture?

Through my sound work in the film industry i have contacts with a number of NGO's around the world and have started shooting photo's for many of them. Taking photo's of people in exotic cultures with the hope of the photo's being used to make some positive change in the world is my photography dream, and one of my goals in life. The shoot in Cameroon was for an American NGO started by Hillary Clinton called Vital Voices. They work with emerging women leaders around the word and support them in their efforts to make the world a better place by investing in women. For this shoot i followed an amazing lady called Kah Walla as she started her campaign trail as the first woman in Cameroon to run for president. Its really inspiring when you meet people like this and gives you hope that things in the world might actually get better if we have more people like this. 

7). Apart from outdoor photography you raise tough topic of Africans life. What makes this topic interesting for you? How do you find yourself in such tough situations - both as a human and as a photographer? What is your attitude for that kind of photos?

I love shooting people and i am very passionate about raising awareness about the reality of the world, and the different ways in which people live. I think that many people just live their lives thinking about their house, their car, their job and how can they make their own lives better without realizing how other people live. Seeing people in very different and difficult situations makes me realize how lucky i am, and also how everyone is connected. They way people with fortunate rich lives affects poor people and many people dont realize or think about this. Everyone should be thinking about the world and how to make it better every day and how they impact the world, otherwise nothing is going to change. Through my photo's i hope that people can see some of the differences in the world and maybe start to think about things a little. I also donate  money to a school in Cambodia for street kids and look after rescue dogs from townships in Cape Town occasionally, and i think we should all do little bits to make things better. 

I haven't yet done some very tough shoots although i would like too. I'm still pretty new to documentary photography but i think this will come in the future and hopefully i can make an impact on at least one person.

8). You're a many-sided photographer. Is there any subject, that you would never ever get involve in?

Hmm never is a big word. I think it just depends on the situation, i might not do something if i think it is too dangerous or if i think the photo might do harm. I haven't been faced with a situation where i have  to choose between taking photo of a crisis or helping someone, i dont know what i would choose, i guess i would have choose whichever i thought would help the most. I do often feel guilty about taking photo's of people in poverty, as i'm making some money off photographing their situation which i dont think is fair. This is why i do other things like donate to a schools and try use my photo's to raise awareness. I dont think its right to just take without giving something back. 

9). What photo equipment do you use? Do you have some special for you bodies or lenses to shot different subjects? Which lens and why this one is your favourite?

My kit is pretty simple which is good if you need to move fast in documentary. I have a Canon 5D mkII, Canon 16-35mm F2.8 L, Canon 70-200mm F2.8 L IS, Canon 580exII speedlight and a bunch of other accessories. I shoot mostly with my 16-35mm lens as you need to get really close to your subject and you feel this in the photo's, its like you are in there in the photo, well to me anyway. I'm slowly expanding my kit as i venture more into studio photography and i'm starting to figure out ways of taking my studio experience out into the field in documentary. I think my next purchases will be a lot more speedlights and of course some more lenses! you can never have enough toys :) 

10). On many of your photos you're using flashlight, every time in a very special way. In what way have you learnt taking photos with using external light? Were you tought or you've been inspired by someone or was it your own piece of working it out?

All of my photography i have taught myself, Google is very useful nowadays if you want to learn something. I think i was first inspired by flash photography by some of Keith Ladzinki's climbing photo's and i think most climbing photographers have ended up copying his style a little. In climbing photography a flash can be very useful as climbers climb mainly in the shade where the light is pretty flat and boring. So you add some extra light with a flash to add some interest and help the photo. Lately I have been using my flash remotely on documentary work and its great, you can overcome a lot of difficult lighting situations with some extra lights. The learning is trial and error though so sometimes you get it right and many times you get it wrong, you just have to keep trying. 

11). Do you have some tips for those who want to start taking photos? What they should focus on in the begining of ones way?

My advise for starting photographers ... shoot all the time! the more you shoot the more you learn. Study your equipment, its a tool for your creation so the better you understand it the better you will be able to use it. Look at and copy other photographers work, if you can figure out how they did something and copy you can make it your own and work forwards from there. But most importantly just keep shooting!

27 September 2011

Shakti Vahini

Some of my work from last year in India just got published on the Vital Voices website. Follow the link below the photo or just click on the photo.

26 August 2011


While helping Sydney move some stuff to his house in Phillipi, i took a few minutes to grab some quick shots of his family. I always find it very humbling seeing places like these and I wish that everyone would at least once go and see where the domestic workers who help them live.

20 July 2011

Quick Pics

I stole 2 hours today to quickly grab a few shots at the staff village near my accommodation for the long shoot i've been on. Tomorrow is my last day and i'm so looking forward to getting back home and having time to shoot stills again.

11 June 2011

Waiting for the light

Sometimes its worth it!

First Light

Dawn Session

I'm on a shoot doing sound for ITV in the Eastern Cape. Its beautiful here and whenever i get a chance i'm gonna try steal some time to get a few shots. This morning i joined the main camera man, producer and a game ranger on an early morning dawn session to try and get some time lapse mist shots. While this was happening i managed to steal a few shots, one which is steal being edited, the other two below.

moments before sunrise

The crew enjoying the show while the timelapse camera ticks away

07 June 2011

Spelling Aside

Here's another shot from the guerilla run in New York. The model is Nancy Cameron who apart from being drop dead gorgeous and really easy to shoot has a creative mind like no one I have ever met. She is in New York and is about to take over the advertising world there as an Art Director. Check out her website at www.spellingaside.com

Nancy Cameron - Art Director - www.spellingaside.com

04 June 2011


So after my lighting and retouching seminar in Manhattan I tried applying a bit of what I learnt to some of the shots I had saved for just this. I will upload more of them as I edit them. Still a lot to learn but the ball is rolling and it all seems possible now. This was shot with one light, guerrilla style on a street in NY.

Jade Hunter

03 June 2011

Steel and Glass

another on the way home from yesterday's seminar shot...

02 June 2011


Today i attended a great seminar in Manhattan all to do with lighting and retouching for studio model shots. I'm loving the challenge of learning a new side to photography and growing my experience. I managed to grab a a quick two shots on my way home ... they have nothing to do with studio or retouching ;)

NY cab racing down 7th. Slow shutter and tracking to get the motion blur.

Reflections of the NY skyline

01 June 2011

New York

I'm in New York for a week visiting Nancy. Yesterday I finally took a bit of time to get some New York city skyline shots. It really is amazing seeing Manhattan light up from the Brooklyn side of the River. Trying to find something unique was a challenge and i think in the one shot i got this. I also tried to get the usual NY skyline shot perfect :)

19 May 2011

Municipal Elections

I just got myself the Canon 5D mkII! So yesterday I joined my friend Mark Wessels, who was shooting for Reuters, on a dawn session in Du Noon township as residents went to vote in this years Municipal Elections.
Residents of Du Noon brave and icy cold morning to beat the queues outside one of the many polling stations in the township.

IEC tape marks the boundary of the polling stations as residents queue to vote inside.

ANC members prepare a desk outside the voting station to try and recruit new voters

Another ANC desk recruiting new ANC members outside one of the polling stations

ANC supporters drive through streets of Du Noon waving ANC posters

A DA supporter wearing DA colors stands outside a voting station

12 May 2011


I've been busy this week trying out some, white infinity curve, glossy product shot stuff for my iStock portfolio. Still lots to learn and more speedlights to buy as now i'm only working with one speedlight and available light. Here are two of the shots taken from my iStock queue...

20 April 2011


I finally got round to editing Andrew and Irene's wedding photo's from last year. I have uploaded them in three different galleries for people to check out. Just click on the text that says 'PART 1' etc to open the galleries...

Gallery 1 (click me)
The day before the wedding day. The grooms party carry gifts and a cow through the streets in celebrations to the brides party for approval by the bride and her parents.

Gallery 2 (click me)
Its wedding day! this is the church part of the ceremony

Gallery 3 (click me)
After the proceedings at the church it was back to Irenes parent's house for celebrations more gifts, food, dancing and general good times :)

14 March 2011

Filling the upload queue

I've recently been accepted as a contributor to iStock, nice because I can now dig up some of my old files and try earn a bit of cash from them by selling them as stock photo's. Below is a cool shot I found in my library and had forgotten about.

A reflection of one of the galleries at the notorious Tuol Sleng or S21 prison in Cambodia. The photo's are of the faces of the thousands of Cambodians tortured and executed during the Khmer Rouge genocide.