Feature | Focus Magazine USA | On the Move print collection

Martin Osner was born in Johannesburg South Africa in 1963 where, at the age of eighteen, he found photography by accident. Interested in painting, he slowly gravitated towards photography as a medium of choice. Over the past twenty years, his work has taken numerous detours on a journey that has allowed him to refine his vision, with which he desires to express simplicity and honesty. For him, a photograph holds an undeniable sense of realism, an easily accessible connection. I see I understand, I experience, I relate. Unlike many artists, he treats anything and everything as a possible subject, photographing a thing for what he perceives is its transformation from reality to realism in art. Although he has never been a dedicated painter, he sees and experiences the world in this way. His social commentary and documentary work is inspired by the great photographer and master artist Henri Cartier Bresson, in addition to the linework of the Fauvists - with his still-life studies exuding a painterly expressionistic style. Working, he experiences hours of peace and contentment inside his art. He has never doubted his love for the medium. It is something he could never stop doing. It’s what he does, it’s what he loves, it’s who he is.


“The images exhibited here were taken in Cape Town, South Africa”, Osner explains. “Just opposite the hotel where we were staying, I noticed a homeless guy walking up the street. I saw him again the next morning. His bent posture caught my eye, as he was always scouring the road for coins and cigarette butts. The next morning I found a nearby building with an elevated view that introduced a series of road signs and waited for him to walk into my composition. Luckily he walked the same route with daily regularity. A cold front had moved in for a few days, bring with it overcast weather. This meant that I would have soft light and more time to photograph him. He was right on time". 


“I spotted him walking up the street completely unaware of my camera. I shot a number of pictures and retired for the day. The next morning was even more successful. Again on time, he came walking up the street bending down at regular intervals to scavenge. Just then a group of tourists were leaving the hotel to go on a walk. At first, I thought that they might get in the way, but I could not have planned it any better".


“My composition was made around a no entry sigh, as the action started to unfold I managed to get a couple of shots off. Knowing that I needed at least one more shot to make a suitable series, I revisited my vantage point on the third morning. Instinctively I knew it was a long shot, rarely do you get two shots in a row to let alone three. This time the man did not show. Despondent, I started mucking around with other compositions. The overcast weather helped a lot and a number of hours later my patience was rewarded. Since then I have managed to add a number of photographs to the series.