Doors of Cape Town

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A few months ago as we were sorting through orders, we spotted some beautiful prints that stopped us in our tracks, we had a sneak peek at the account and were instantly hooked.. @DoorsofCapeTown is an absolute must follow, so we decided to have a little chat about the project with it’s founder & photographer Barry Havenga, about the inspiration behind the account (@DoorsofNewYork), his favourite Cape Town locations for shooting doors – think Wynberg-Chelsea Village, Bo-Kaap and the CBD, and turning your Instagram account into a business!

1. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Is it just you shooting Doors of Cape Town or do you have contributors?

I’m a sports journalist, deputy editor on Golf Digest magazine, but have other creative interests, particularly photography. I’ve been fortunate to travel extensively with my job – so have always combined both. I manage the project alone.

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2. How did you come up with the idea to do Doors of Cape Town? When you started it did you realise how much work it would take? 

The power of the hashtag. During a trip to New York in 2012, my girlfriend at the time discovered @TheDoorsOfNewYork while browsing through NYC hashtags on Instagram. We saw an opportunity to create an account here because of the diverse architecture in Cape Town – with British, Dutch, Malay and French settlers over the centuries. I thanked the The DoNY for the inspiration in the first post on Easter Saturday last year – the Reserve Bar on St George’s Mall.

The project began as a hobby but as interest grew it became more time consuming, particularly when I started to sell prints. But I manage to fit shooting doors, posting them on social network platforms, and marketing the prints into my week because it gives me a creative escape from my daily routine.

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3. Do you go out with the intention of shooting different doors or you just take the photos as you spot them? 

Once I decided to commit to the project I identified areas that were likely to yield interesting and colourful doors – like Wynberg-Chelsea Village, Bo-Kaap, the general CBD etc. – and keep returning there. Sometimes an actual door can be very plain, but the colour of the wood or surrounding walls can make the image visually compelling.

I’m now obviously always on the lookout for doors whenever I’m driving or walking through the city. Even though they’re not strictly in Cape Town, I’ve even included Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl in the project. My account. My rules.

4. Lots of people do 365 or 100 day projects, did you find this too constraining, did you just want to post whenever you felt like it?

There’s no strict schedule, I have quite a vast archive that allows me to post a door every two or three days. Sundays are good for shooting as it’s quieter and many more doors are closed.

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5. Tell us more about the prints you sell?

At the end of last year I selected 20 doors and my art director kindly designed the template, which now sells as a poster or A1/A2 canvas prints. I have a draft of a second version which just needs a few tweaks. It’s really hard to select just 20 per collage. I’ve also considered combining doors of the same colour (yellow, blue, red) in one collage. An A1 block-mounted canvas over a 40mm frame sells for R2 499, A2 for R1 999 or an A1 satin sherpa poster (260gms) for R1 499. The premium version (which I have in my home), is a Light-Jet C-type print, cold-mounted to Perspex for R3 199.

6. What’s your favourite thing to do, other than photography?

I’m an obsessive San Francisco Giants baseball fan, so I listen to live games late at night or early mornings. I read a lot; magazines, books, foreign newspapers, and these TV series are musts: Mad Men, House of Cards, Shameless and Veep. Right now I’m planning my next trip – driving the Lincoln Highway across America in Aug/Sept – New York to San Francisco!

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7. Do you follow any other cool projects on Instagram?

Not special projects per se, but heaps of creative people – photographers, writers and fashion industry folk…

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8. Who are your favourite people to follow on Instagram?

I have favourites on my personal Instagram account (@Loose_Impediment) such as @SweatEngine (NYC); @NatGeo; @ashleykmayo (NYC and golf); @CityofCapeTown; @TubeSleepers; @WalterIooss; @WhatMyBoyfriendWore; @GettySport. There are so many good doors accounts all over the world too. I wish Morrissey was on Instagram…

9. What are your favourite photo editing apps?

I shoot with a Nikon D3100 SLR, transfer the images to iPad and then upload to Instagram – so only those filters. I don’t like images that are over-edited, or appear contrived.

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10. What is your greatest extravagance? 

Things I don’t hesitate to spend money on: Magazines/books, music, food, pinot noir … and the occasional cigar.

11. What is your most treasured possession? 

Probably my demanding 15-year-old Persian cat, Mungojerrie. He has his own hashtag – ‘Russian Skitty’ – and has probably been harder to raise than children, not that I have any, but surely it can’t be tougher! My watch also has great sentimental value.

Barry’s Top 5 Doors in Cape Town

1. The first one posted, over the 2013 Easter weekend, the now defunct Reserve Bar (within the Taj Hotel building) on St George’s Mall.

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2. I got lucky with this one – a fire engine was reversing into its Regent St garage in Sea Point as I arrived.

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3. Rustic look on a historic building in the heart of the charming Wynberg-Chelsea Village, a popular door-hunting ground.

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4. When I turned down a road just because I hadn’t before – I discovered this beauty, just behind the Vineyard Hotel in Claremont.

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5. Another quaint Wynberg-Chelsea door in autumn, sublime timing with newspaper in flap.

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