Last January, while on assignment for National Geographic Traveler in South Africa, I was exploring the up-and-coming and well-known parts of Durban. The city’s beachfront easily fell into the well-known (and much loved) category, and I knew I had to make some photos that conveyed the importance of this area to Durbanites. I also knew that, most likely, only one shot of the beachfront would run in the story.
I was fascinated to see all that the beachfront, called the Golden Mile but in reality stretching much farther, had to offer and loved watching how people from all races and walks of life came out and mingled alongside the waves of the Indian Ocean. There was no shortage of subject matter, so on a busy Sunday afternoon I began making images of everything from families having picnics to kids splashing in the water.
As the sun started dipping behind Durban’s skyline, it felt like everyone wanted to squeeze just a bit more enjoyment out of the day, and I was hoping to find a way to capture that sentiment visually. I went out onto one of the many piers and starting looking for interesting situations. I wanted to shoot back toward the setting sun and the Durban skyline because the haze from the humidity and the backlighting gave the scene a nostalgic feel.
I saw a young couple walking on the pier, laughing, with their arms around each other. As I often do when photographing people, I approached them and told them why I’d like to take their picture. I asked them to just keep enjoying the day as they had been. Knowing I had only a short time to photograph them as they walked down the pier, I’d run in front of them, take a few shots, and then let them pass me while I kept shooting. During one of these moments, I saw a couple leisurely strolling in the other direction and wanted to include them in the scene. Shooting horizontally to include more of the skyline, I fired off a few frames as the two couples passed each other, and this shot is the one I loved.
I got lucky with the woman who was wearing a yellow top and pink hat, because it adds a nice pop of color. I feel like the color, couples, skyline, and hazy background successfully convey the feeling of a relaxing Sunday afternoon stroll and show why people love Durban’s beachfront.
Although this image didn’t run in the magazine, it is one of my favorites from this assignment. The image that ran, a vertical of surfers walking onto a pier in the early morning, was very similar to the image above and spoke to the huge culture of surfing. As a former photo editor at Traveler, I know that sometimes our favorite shots don’t make it into the final story, but I’m happy to be able to share this outtake here.
Krista Rossow photographed with a Nikon D800, 24-70mm lens at 26mm, at 1/1000 sec., at f/4.5, ISO 200.