Mike Eloff or as he is better known on Instagram, The Lawry has been quite prolific in his 365 photography projects. If you don’t know what a 365 project is, basically the person picks a subject and takes a photo of it, every single day, for a year. As you can imagine that takes quite a lot of dedication! We have already featured Lorraine Loots & her 365 Postcards for Ants project on our blog here, but we had to interview Mike who is in the midst of his 3rd 365 project – it all started on the 1st of January 2012 with 365 sunsets (which is still going), 2013 was dedicated to #DailySunrise, our favourite project though has to be 2014’s #365portraitsofstrangers
1. Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I am a thirty something obsessed with digital and photography. I’ve been taking photos since I was a kid, but only developed a strong need to get a decent camera in 2008 while I was traveling the world with my girlfriend. I have recently become a freelance photographer and my site is http://www.michael-eloff-photography.co.za
2. How did you come up with the idea to do #365sunsets and when you started it did you realise how much work it would take? What is the funniest/weirdest story when you tried to catch a sunset, did you really not miss one?
I’d always seen people trying these 365 projects and I wanted to do one with a twist and something that had never been done before. I had never seen anyone posting photos of sunsets every day and since everyone loves a sunset, I thought I would give it a bash. Here I am in my third year, still taking photos of every sunset, even when it rains!
I never knew how much work it would take, but when it was on my phone, it was easy as it is a quick edit and boom, it’s up. These days I prefer the professional quality my DSLR gives, so it’s more of a process to get photos up every day, especially since there are sometimes more than 100 photos to choose from.
Well, there have been so many moments, but the funniest was actually while taking a photo of the sunrise, because I did a 365 project last year where I took photos of the sunrise every day, and it was on Signal Hill one chilly winters morning. I was bent over my phone watching it do a long exposure and the next thing I heard a noise behind me. It was 3 inquisitive donkeys that came to see what I was doing. Who would of thought, Donkeys on Signal Hill
3. After you finished the #365sunsets project, did you take a break before starting #365portraitsofstrangers or did you just jump right in?
At the end of 2012, the 365 Sunsets came to an end and the #DailySunrise started. It was a stupid, hungover decision to take a photo of the sunrise on 1 January 2013 and to call it 365Sunrises! That was a stupid move, which got me out of bed every single day last year and I loved pretty much every single moment of it! My portraits project is now my 3rd 365 project and who knows if there will be a fourth, but I am pretty sure there will be. Watch this space!
4. Which have been some of your favourite #365portaitsofstrangers photos and stories to date?
I’d have to say bumping into Bryan Habana and having him agreed to let me take his photo and story. Then there was the sad, yet inspiring story of Simphiwe, who was born with no arms or legs, yet he is a better artist than I will ever be and through me posting his photo and story, within 24 hours, someone donated a wheel chair. I also quite enjoyed stopping a random suit to chat to him, only to find out he was Helen Zille’s official speech writer. The project itself has been amazing, yet there have been more than a few moments where I have walked away with a tear in my eye.
5. We at Nifty250 love Humans Of New York, were you inspired by that account, and how did you decide to differentiate yourself?
I love Brandon Stanton’s work, but I did not know about his work until I started my project and someone commented on Day 1 letting me know about what he does. What I do vs. what Humans of New York does, is that I post a bio for every person that I talk to.
6. How long does it take you everyday to find someone to take a photo of, speak and really engage with them, then edit the photo, write down the story and then upload it?
Sometimes it takes me up to an hour to find someone to talk to because I don’t just grab any person that I see. I need to feel compelled to them to hear their story! One personality type I do like to talk to is the Rastafarian community in Cape Town because they are an interesting culture with such amazing personalities.
7. Have you gotten into any strange situations with strangers?
Yes, while talking to one of my strangers, he was homeless and asked me for some cash. I only had a R50 note on me and he had already seen it. He said he had some change for me, so when I gave it to him, he just said he didn’t really have change and he needed the cash more than me. Rookie error that I will not make again.
8. What’s your favourite thing to do, other than photography?
I love running, hiking and the outdoors because I can fit photography into every single one of them. I don’t leave home without my camera, ever!
9. Do you think you’ll continue with another 365 project next year or do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
There is a strong chance I will do my 4th 365 project, so watch this space and check my account on 1 January 2015 for more 😉
10. Do you follow any other cool 365 projects on Instagram?
Yes I know of two others, Loraine Loots with her 365 Postcards for Ants and Gavin Pickford with his 365 Long Exposures project.
11. Who are your favourite people to follow on Instagram?
There are so many out there, but I would say my girlfriend’s personal account @campsbaygirl_; @humansofny; @garethpon ; @instagram ; @nature ; @digbyvanwinkle ; @tunameltsmyheart
12. What are your favourite photo editing apps?
I only use 2 apps, the rest is edited before that on my Mac: Snapseed & Photoshop Express
13. What is your greatest extravagance?
My gear! It is so expensive to buy photography gear, but I always want more! My most recent splash was my GoPro, which has been one the coolest toys I have ever had! I went all out on it too and got the top of the range GoPro Hero 3+ Black Series.
14. What is your most treasured possession?
My Canon 7D and my iMac because without these two, I would be using my phone to edit photos and honestly, the quality of a mobile phone vs. RAW on a DSLR is not even comparable.