After spending nearly thirty years watching the world change through his camera lens, there’s little that Shawn Driman hasn’t seen… and photographed.
Born into a turbulent South Africa in the fifties and raised on the idyllic beaches of Kwazulu-Natal, it wasn’t long before his passion to capture what he saw around him freed him from the constraints of middle class expectations and created, through his camera lens, vivid and startling images that heralded the arrival of a major new talent. Shawn’s first step towards achieving his objective was to enrol at the Technikon Natal to study photography. Contrary to everyone’s and his own expectations, he proved to be not only good at photography – he excelled. After his first year at college, he received the National Certificate in Photography, and was placed first in the country. At the end of his third year, his work received the highest recorded marks achieved in any art faculty in South Africa.
Upon graduating, he shared a studio with an Australian photographer, Rene Loevendie, in Durban, where he continued to build on his experience until he felt sufficiently confident to branch out on his own in 1989.
In 1995, following his relocation to Johannesburg, Shawn’s luck suddenly changed. His uninsured car was stolen, and with it, his life’s work in his portfolio bag. He had to start again from scratch.
Working from a small room in his house, Shawn slowly began to rebuild his business. Then one night, at the beginning of 1997, he woke up with a revelation. It suddenly all became clear; the way forward was digital. The fact that Shawn hadn’t even seen a digital camera at that point did not deter him.
After some research, Shawn found the first Phase One unit in Johannesburg, a revolutionary scanner that would fit on the back of a camera and digitize the photographic images. However, his hopes were dashed when he saw the price tag. It cost as much as his house. Two days later the phone rang. A policy that he’d taken out twelve years before to help a friend get started in the insurance business had matured and was ready to cash in… and it was just enough to buy the unit.
Within a month of ‘going digital‘ Shawn was busy enough to open a successful studio.
When he isn’t behind a camera, Shawn indulges himself in his two other loves: music and the beautiful South African outdoors. His favourite time of day is when he sits in his Johannesburg garden in the afternoon, listening to Alphonzo Johnson playing Bahama Mama on bass guitar to a backdrop of bird call from Grey Loeries and Ubiquotous Laughing Doves. “We are very blessed in this place,” says Shawn, “to have so many beautiful places and so many extraordinary animals around us.”
About his landscapes, Shawn says, “When I can actually feel the energy of a place, it seems to infuse the photograph. There is another force, more than just me and my camera. I can feel it happening.”