Photographer draws on her rustic roots

2011-12-12 00:00

Above: A self portrait.

PHOTOGRAPHER Cara Lee Gevers has always been attracted to nature as she grew up in the KwaZulu-Natal farming area of Vryheid, but she never realised how much this had seeped into her consciousness until she picked up a camera.

A friend handed her his professional camera and told her to take some pictures, she recalls: “At that moment I became hooked. It was as if everything I wanted to tell people about how I saw the world became possible through the lens of a camera.”

Gevers had always been attracted to the field of visual communication but never thought of photography as a medium. She had completed a degree at the University of Pretoria in English and journalism, and thought this would be her future until the chance encounter with her first Canon camera.

“I became besotted with images, I photographed everything and then I became obsessed with taking certain images and creating a certain look. I was actually not very good, but I had a lot of luck, because I was so interested in the detail of the image but I was not very good at the technical part. In fact, I took most of my photographs on one setting. I had no idea you could adjust the settings to suit certain situations.”

Since learning about the technical aspects of photography her creativity has soared and she has chosen to focus on her freelance career so that she can have the time to travel and experiment with different locations and situations.

In the three years she has been doing photography, Gevers has photographed fashion, weddings, architecture and portraits, but she says that she loves to go back to Vryheid, where her father still farms, to get in touch with nature.

“It is where I get a feel for the natural elements. I love working with the sky and the earth and the trees, and in my photographs I am always trying to include these amazing features in the pictures.

“I also love to work with water, because you can create really dreamy effects and it blurs the line between reality and the imagination. I am always trying to challenge myself and that means working to take better photographs all the time.”

Once she created a giant nest out of sticks and hay as a prop, she wanted to recreate a space where she could pose a model. This was made inside an old abandoned barn and all the old and rustic elements added to the overall mix of textures.

In one project Gevers took time to photograph workers on the farm where she grew up and two of the women who raised her when she was a young child. She took a series of black-and-white photographs of them and their grandchildren.

Gevers says while she realises that commercial demands drive the way photographs are taken and used, she really believes that the definition of beauty is very narrow according to what the media wants. “I am saddened when I see all women strike a pose the minute a camera is pointed at them. They immediately lose their sense of self.

“Every woman believes that she has to look one way — sexy. To me that is so very limiting. Women are many things and sexy is so short-lived. Also, what is sexy to one person is quite different to another. Also people associate sexy with youth.

“Older women have so much knowledge and wisdom. Why aren’t they given credit for this.”

Her images of women try to expand this narrow definition of beauty. “I really admire American photographer Annie Liebowitz and I understand that to get to photograph people you have to spend time with them and eventually they become so comfortable with you that you become part of the furniture.”

As her star rises, Gevers hopes that she will always have time to return to her roots for inspiration. To look at her work you can visit her website:

Above: Cara Lee Gevers believes that all women are beautiful — because beauty shines from the inside out.

Above: The use of water brings a dream-like quality to her pictures.

 Above: Cara Lee Gevers likes to portray the many stages of a woman’s life.

Above: A nest built from sticks and hay makes a great prop.


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