Crash Taylor Interviews Jaco Fourie

This week I welcome Jaco Fourie. Jaco is a wedding photographer based in South Africa and has been on the scene for 5 years now. His use of natural light, video light and flash is superb. He is definitely pushing the boundaries and taking wedding photography to the next level. You will unquestionably feel inspired after reading the interview and checking out his engaging imagery. As always leave a comment, they are much appreciated.

Hi Jaco,


Tell us a little bit about Jaco Fourie?

It is always difficult talking about one self.  So I will tell you what I have heard my clients say about me. They say I am professional in what I do. I am caring as I have helped so many brides with little things on their wedding day. I am calm and laid back, I have a calming effect on my clients. Those who do not know me will probably think I am an angry person. I get into a zone when I work so sometimes I may ignore somebody, this is not on purpose, I am a man and I was told men can only do one thing at a time 😉

I love shooting weddings, I don't do it just for the money as somebody hinted on a blog anonymously. I do it because I love it and that shows in my work. If you love something you will always excel in it, no matter what you do. I love helping other people, that is why I started up a local photography forum where togs can chat and help each other. I love my family. Spending time with them is important for me, but in my hectic life style it is not always that easy to make the time. I love building with Lego, my wife got me the Lego Mindstorms set for my birthday this year. You can program it to do things and that is super cool. I play the guitar, I am a metal head so the more the guitar screams the better for me. I also am a gamer and love playing shoot em up games. I love to watch horror movies, the more blood and guts the better, obviously I watch these on my own as my wife does not fancy them, The projector in my studio comes in handy for that reason. So I will go watch the latest SAW movie on my own up in the dark studio. My favourite colour is red as you can see on my blog and web site. I love strong colourful images with dramatic lighting.

Where is home?

Pretoria, South Africa

If you could live anywhere on this awesome planet where would you build your dream home?

South African Bushveld  with a bit less crime, I have been all over the world and South Africa is one of the best places to live. You have a lot of open space and the beauty of the South African wild life is no ware else to be found.

What is your current state of mind before we continue with the interview?

Mind? What mind, I am in the middle of wedding season and running like a chicken without a head so busy am I, But I am not complaining, we are fully booked for 2009 and 2/3 for 2010. God is great to us.

Did you go to school to study photography?

Nope, I studied to be an IT professional. I have a degree in computer science and have my OCP (Oracle Certified Professional) in both the developer and database tracks.

How long have you been a photographer?

5 years.

How long have you been a wedding photographer?

5 years.

What or who got you started in wedding photography?

When I started out, still photography was initially the passion of my wife Daleen. I was experienced at videos, so when asked by an aunt to put together a wedding video piece and combine some stills, I borrowed a still camera to shoot my own pictures instead of waiting for the photos of the official photographer. At that stage we didn’t know what we were doing, We were just fooling around.

As the wedding began, there was an eruption of smoke and fire as the hired photographer’s strobe ignited. In desperation the other photographer asked me to take over. I told my wife we’ve got nothing to lose. Just go for it,  I said, as the two of us proceeded to cover the event. My wife put the camera on the Green Monster (automatic settings) and we went to work . When the pictures turned out well, I was encouraged by my brother  to think seriously about photography, “You’ve got talent. You should take this further,” he said.

How would you describe your style?

“Freestyle” or the lack of any defined style. My style is made up of all the elements, from posed & set-up shots to photo journalistic / candid images. A wedding is made up of all these elements and I try to incorporate it into my style. Glamorously but still naturally looking images are what I am after.

How many weddings do you average per year?

I aim to shoot 30 , I have to shoot at least 20 but end up doing about 35 every year

Do you have a few recent images you can share with us?





















What type of cameras do you shoot with?

Nikon D3’s, is there any other camera 😉 .... Just a joke as I know how serious Canon togs can be.

What is your favourite photography accessory, other than your camera?

My pocket wizards and video light.

If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?

I use 3 lenses on a wedding day Nikon 14-24 F2.8, Nikon 24-70 F2.8 and the Nikon 70-200 F2.8 VR. I love them all but if I had to choose only one I would go for the 70-200 as it gives me 2 more stops in low light and I love the shallow depth of field.

What lighting equipment do you take on a shoot?

5 Nikon SB-800 and 2 video lights.

Can you describe how and when you use flash, video light, reflectors and natural light during a wedding?

I will use flash in day light to make it more dramatic. Normally I will use video light more in the dark or indoors as our South African sun is very bright so you need some more power to compete with it. I will use a reflector when I do more traditional portraits of the bride and groom using window light.

What is your favourite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?

My Tablet and 70” screen on my desktop. My 17” HP laptop and my MacBook Pro.

How important is Photoshop in your final images?

It is 50% of my images. I don’t do fake but it does take it to the next level

What is your most used Photoshop tool, plug-in, action set etc.?

I have a big toolbox inside Photoshop, I use Yervant's skin actions and find them to be great.

Are you a MAC or PC lover?

PC and Mac, seeing that I am an IT professional as well I find PC to be a lot more flexible in the IT field.  With flexibility comes complexity and that creates unstable platforms. But if you know what you are doing around a PC it will serve you well. PC get a bad rap for the fact that they are unstable but if configured correctly all will be fine.

A MAC works more like an Xbox or Playstation. It was built for one reason and you are not able to expand it very much . That is why the Mac platform is so stable as you are limited to what you can add to it from a hardware point of view. One Xbox is the same to the next but one PC does not have the same hardware as the next. That is why it is easier to write a game for an Xbox than a PC. When you write a game for the Xbox you know that all the Xbox’s out there are the same, but when it comes to PC they all are different and you have to write code to probe the hardware to see what you have inside the box, An a example would be If you have a graphic accelerator inside you can use it to do the 3D rendering, but if you don’t have one you need to simulate it in the CPU using code.

So the bottom line is I use them both, as I am a gadget junkie.

Do you plan on buying any new equipment and if so what do you have your eyes on?

I have all the toys I need at the moment from a camera point of view. One thing I would love is if they remove the mechanical shutters on the SLR cameras. The dust on the sensor is making me crazy. One thing I will be getting from the lighting  side is a RadioPopper system.

I finally feel I have mastered my Crash-Art workflow, can you briefly describe for the readers your photographic workflow after a wedding?

I will sync all my cameras time before a wedding. We work with 3 cameras and it is a real pain to fix-up the exif info to get all the images in a time line, so I make sure the time is not a problem.

When I get home I will download all the images to a folder on the PC using card readers. When all the images are downloaded I will use ULEAD to rename all +- 4000 images I shot. I find ULead to do that the fastest. 10 seconds to rename 4000 Jpeg files. Then I will kick off Superflexible, the software that backs-up all my images and files to my Drobo unit. My wife will work trough the images and choose the files we will work on. She has no emotional attachment to them, that makes it easier for her to choose.

I will then use Lightroom to do a first pass on all the files. Then pull them into Photoshop CS4 for fine tuning.

I love Photoshop as you can use Java to automate things for you. I have written scripts to do all my framing and other boring tasks.

I use Queensberry albums, what wedding albums do you supply your clients with and do you design them yourself or outsource the design?

I spend a lot of time creating my images, I want them to be perfect. I could not find one company that did a perfect job at a price I am willing to pay. Thus I make my own books. We also make books for other photographers around the world. But I don’t focus on that. All our books are custom hand made for each client.

How do you feel about cropping an image?

I crop inside the camera, I shoot what I see. I am not a shoot the scene crop the moment kind of a photographer. I will crop to fix a skew horizon but not to frame an image.

I choose photographers for these interviews because their work inspires me and gets my creative juices flowing, hence the interview. What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such awesome imagery?

I use my photography to give honour to God, he is my inspiration,  I also love to watch movies and music videos. Colour plays a big role in what I do, so does light. CSI Miami is a good example of the type of light and colour I love to use.

What has been your most memorable assignment and why?

I photographed a wedding down in Cape Town, the ceremony was held in a wine cellar underground. It was such an awesome setting to shoot in.

If you could shoot a wedding with another photographer who would it be and why?

Yervant or Jerry, They both have played a big role in my work.

Do you have an assistant/2nd shooter that accompanies you on wedding assignments?

Yes, currently Danie is my assistant 2nd shooter. We work well as a team. He has been with me for more than a year now as Daleen no longer shoots with me as a result of our kids. He is very dependable and will go to the extreme to help me get the images I want. Sometimes he will have to go into water and climb trees for me to get the shot. He is worth more than his weight in gold.

What are your favourite images you have shot recently? Can you describe their creation in regards to location, lighting, composition, camera settings etc, also your thoughts when creating the images and what they mean to you?

1. I photographed this image in an underground wine cellar in Cape Town. It is an awesome place to work in. I never met the bride and groom till the day of the wedding as it was a destination wedding. They were super people to work with. I just love the way this image ended up. I used a SB-800 that I fired via a Sky Port in front of her and lit her behind using a video light.


2. This image has a lot of sentimental value to me for a couple of reasons.  In the first place I love it because it is my brother and his wife in the image. The building is very powerful and the post production work makes it very dramatic. I love the architecture. Most people think I shot this in Europe, but this building is in South Africa, in fact it is our old Supreme Court building. In the second place it means a lot to me as it was used as an opening double spread page in an article that Rangefinder used to profile me.  This image was shot totally with natural light using a 14-24 Lens on my D3.


3. This image was shot in Paris. It is more a work of art than a photo. I love the way the bride is arching her back with just a hint of the tower in the back ground. Again this image was shot totally in natural light, this time I used my 70-200 VR lens on the D3.


4. I shot this image in front of the Louvre museum in Paris. I used 2 SB-800 that I fired via Sky Port. One behind the bride and the other from the side. I dragged the shutter a bit to pick up some of the ambient light from the glass pyramids. I placed my white balance on flash that is why the tungsten light of the pyramids went orange. I shot this on a D300 using a 70-200 VR lens.


How many images do you average per wedding and how many do you usually present to your clients?

2000 – 4000. I give 300 – 400 images

Where would be your dream destination wedding?

I love the look I get in Europe, so any European city would be a great place to work for me.

How do you make the bride and groom, bridal party etc… feel relaxed in front of your D3?

I shoot an engagement shoot with all my couples if it is possible. That way they get to know me before the wedding day. On the wedding day we are more like friends as a result, they trust me as they saw the images I created on the e-session and tend to do anything I ask. I am also very laid back, I don’t stress easily and that rubs off  on the people I work with. I love shooting weddings, it’s about having fun.

Have you ever had anything go wrong at a wedding and if so, how did you handle it?

Nothing I did but I have been to weddings where the cake fell off the table, the groom stepped on the brides dress and ripped the back of it open. The brides dad used the brides previous boyfriends name during the speeches. So a lot of things happen at weddings.

What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing weddings?

I would say it is the time element. You work against time and have to produce WOW images for your client in a fraction of the time a commercial photographer has when they shoot for their clients.

What do you think of the wedding photography industry at the moment and where do you see it in 5 years from now?

The industry has grown a lot in South Africa in the last 5 years, That is a good and bad thing. We find a lot of people go buy a cheap camera and then call them self’s wedding photographers. I am not saying people should not take up the art, but make sure your client knows about it. Tell them before you book them you are still learning the art. I have had so many brides come to me and cry their eyes out as the tog who shot their wedding made a mess of it as they have no experience. We have started a organisation in SA to help solve that problem. We hope to educate the public and grow new talents into the industry.

A wedding photographer who inspires you?

Jerry & Yervant

It’s almost that time of year for a Fourie family portrait. Is there any photographer out there that you would be stoked to say – he/she took my portrait?

Any master photographer who I look up to, they are all great in their own way, it is difficult for me to choose only one.

A website and/or blog you visit often?

DWF & NOBS are forums I frequent, I also drop by the Flash Flavour blog from time to time as well as Yervant and Jerry's.

The first photographer that comes to your mind and why?

Jerry, I just love what he does.

The last workshop or seminar you attended and why?

I went to Venice in May and worked with Yervant. Need I say more?

What photographic organizations do you belong to?


One way you market JD Photography?

I hand out cards at the wedding with a image of the couple that I shot at their e-session. My blog  / web details are on it.

Do you advertise? If so where?

No I do not anymore, 95% of my work is word of mouth.

How important is an awesome website for your business?

It is my shop window. I book a lot of my work from my website and blog. I sometimes think it is time to redo the website as it is 4 years old, but then I get a compliment from a bride and groom on it , so a leave it.

If not a photographer, I would have liked to be a marine biologist studying the great white shark. What would you have been?

IT consultant. I love working with toys and gadgets.

I realize that each great photographer has a particular penchant or love for photographing a particular subject whether it be nature, portraits, sea or landscapes, shadow and light, etc. as a result I would love to have you talk about and share whatever images you feel appropriate of your own private obsession in the magical world of photography.

It is a pity that I do not get as much time as I would like to shoot personal projects.  When I get the time I will work with my kids. I love capturing images from my travels and from our beautiful country.





Is there anybody or anything you would love to photograph?

I love to travel. I like to see new places. I like the adventure and like to photograph new places and people around the world.

When I was 2nd shooting I was picking everybody’s brain, I still am actually. That’s why I love these interviews so much. Every interview I learn something that makes me a better photographer. What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue wedding photography?

You need to be able to take control and think on your feet. It is one thing to be a wedding photographer, but to be a good wedding photographer is another thing. Understand how your kit works and how to get the most out of it.

We know that each of us has someone or something, which inspires our life and work. Can you tell us the true basis of your inspiration?

I work for God, My images are there to show the world the beauty He has created, that is why I love shooting weddings, it is the start of a new phase in the couples lives.

Is there anything you would have done differently during your photographic career?

I would have liked to start earlier in my life, it is a blast doing it and I have missed out so much for so long.

Name a photographer you would like to take a portrait of?

Monte Zucker

If you could be invisible for one day with your camera...

In my younger days I would probably come up with something naughty, but today I would follow my kids and my wife around and try and get some great images of them, we don’t spend enough time with our loved ones

I’ve learned the most from…

Jerry & Yervant

What talent would you most like to have?

To be more spontaneous with couples and be able to make a fool of myself and not feel like an ass in the process.

Something you’re still learning?

You will never know it all. Somebody who says he knows it all is a fool. I learn something new in all aspects of life and photography every day. It's just such a pity that you loose all again one day.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Daleen my wife, my son Wildré and my daughter Amoné. They are the reasons I work so hard. I love my family and miss them tremendously when I am away from them, luckily we now have Skype & web cameras so we keep in touch all the time

What is your greatest fear?

I hate snakes. There are a lot of snakes in South Africa. Scorpions are also not big on my list.

Something that is overrated?

I found the food in other countries not to be tasty at all. I discovered if I want to have good Italian food for example, I need to go to an Italian restaurant in South Africa and not in the country the food comes from. I was very disappointed when I went to restaurants in Europe. If you want good food come to South Africa, we have the best food in the world that is why I look like the Pillsbury Dough man.

Something you’re saving up for?

My retirement day.

What item do you wish you had designed?

Google or MS Dos

If you could have lunch with anyone who is famous who would it be?

You may find this boring but I don’t have anybody particular in mind.

Where you'll find me on a Friday night at 9 p.m.?

Getting my kit ready for Saturdays wedding.

Your favourite film (movie) of all time?

“Good Will Hunting” from a story perspective. Then there are some great movies from a photography point of view, “300”, “Sky Captain and the world of tomorrow” to name but 2. I get a lot of inspiration from watching movies.

Who would play you in a film (movie) of your life?

When I was in shape some people said I reminded them of the “The Rock” , now I look more like the  Pillsbury Dough man, but I will be working on looking like the Rock again soon so I guess he would do.

First thing you would do if you won the lottery?

I would take my time and plan the way forward. I will give my tenth to charity but I would plan how it should be applied. I will never win the lottery, as I do not buy any tickets 😉

Which five words would your friends use to describe you?






What ambition have you not yet achieved?

Win some WPPI awards, I guess I need to enter first 😉

What would you like to be doing in 5 years from now?

I like what I am doing at the moment, so why do something else. I do not plan that far ahead, 5 years ago if you told me I would be a photographer I would tell you, you are mad, and now I love it.

And the last question, if you had one wish…

That all my wishes come true ....... 😉

Oh one more, if someone said ‘how can I be the next Jaco Fourie?’ What would you say?

Why be me ? Rather be a better you at what you do. As there can be only one of you. Make it count.

Your readers can find out more about me:

Website:  http://www.jdphotography.co.za

Blog:  http://blog.jdphotography.co.za