How everything started
I sometimes wish I could say I did photography since I was a toddler. Crawling around in a dark room developing film and looking cool. That is, however, not the case.
I grew up a typical Afrikaans boy playing sports and being outside the whole day until the street lights came on. “Open the gates” and “King” were my favourite games of all time. I did get a camera when I was 13 though. I was not happy. I wanted a Super Springbok leather rugby ball.
After school and studying international trade I was ready to take on the world!
In 2001 I went to London for two years. I am going to TRAVEL THE WORLD and save ONE MILLION DOLLARS! It didn’t quite work out that way, but I did manage to buy a decent camera (Fuji Finepix 4900) and fell hopelessly in love with photography.
In 2002 my friends started getting married and I would tag along as a “back-up photographer”. Somehow I managed to get some decent shots. So much so that they started using my photos for their enlargements going up on bedroom walls.
The doubts were still present, but after a stern speech by a good friend one night along the lines of “Moenie jou talente wat die Here vir jou gegee het wegsteek nie” I realised I found my calling.
So my business was started. I did my first paid wedding on 14 February 2004. I moved to Cape Town. It ALL would change. NEW EVERYTHING! EVERYTHING NEW!
On 3 March 2007, I did a wedding in the Riebeek Valley. As I entered the bride’s dressing room I saw a girl in the corner. She was breathtaking. I immediately took a picture. The hair and make-up artist were busy applying her make-up. I soon figured out she was the bride’s sister, Iza.
Nothing came of it but we did become friends over time. We then started dating and I soon realised she is
We got engaged on a plot of land that I owned at the time. I built a house made from fairy lights. I’ve been known to be a hopeless romantic sometimes… I had help from a friend and, granted, it was not architecturally speaking the MANSION OF LIGHTS I had envisioned but it wowed Iza enough for her to say YES! So our journey together truly began!
We got married in December 2009 on a Wednesday. It was and still is one of the highlights of my life and a day that I will NEVER forget. We did it our way, on our own terms.
My good friend Greg Lumley did our photos and to this day I treasure them immensely.
Not only did Iza’s make-up and hair business flourish but we were fortunate enough to travel a bit. We drove old cars, lived in a small flat, and had flimsy furniture but we happily spent all our money on the “next trip”. It was like a drug!
This included Bangkok, Koh Samui, Phuket, Kuala Lumpur, New York City, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, London, Edinburgh
On 13 February 2014 our lives changed irrevocably. Wilhelm Hendrik Cloete was born. Gazing down on his tiny little nose, and him looking up at you as his hero – wow – THAT is a feeling that transcends all earthly feelings, I am sure of it.
Words cannot describe the extreme emotions that a baby brings to one’s home. Ranging from absolute frustration to a joy that is incomprehensible, and a love that is endless.
When he was born I also made the scary decision and leap of faith to quit my day job (crazy, I know!!) and do photography full-time. It was something that was a long time coming and although we have other stresses since we both work from home – it was the best decision ever.
Jan Frederick Cloete was born on the 21st June 2018. He was a breath of fresh air. Our sunshine child as Iza calls him. Finally our puzzle was complete. We are our own little complete family now.