Interview with Olympus Ambassador Ian Fleming

Q: Ian please tell us about you:

I started a apprenticeship in photography at the age of 17 and after five years working with this company in Johannesburg I left them to join Eskom which is South Africa’s power generating and distribution company. I spent many years doing Industrial and Aerial photography, after twenty five years of service I decided it was time for a change of scenery and made the decision to move to Knysna a small town in the Western Cape.

I need to mention that when I joined Eskom I was an assistant Photographer and left them as the Visual Services Manager with a staff compliment of 38 supplying photographic, video, design and marketing services to the company and its major contractors.

Our business in Knysna is an alternative photographic company doing commercial work, high end fine art printing, framing and canvas stretching. My portfolio is on the teaching side running short courses in photography and the design and manufacture of course material which has recently been complimented with an all-new downloadable course. See

I presently hold my APPSA In Architectural Photography and my FSAPP in Documentary Photography.

Outside of this business I was the founder of SA Professional Photographer and presently have the post of National Operations Manager, see


Q: You're an Olympus shooter. How much are you involved with the brand and how long has it been?

During my photographic career I have shot with numerous cameras: Sinar, Hasselblad, Rollei and Nikon.

I switched to Olympus when they introduced the Four Thirds system in 2003 and my son and I are currently shooting on EM1 , although when it comes to street photography and portraits I use Olympus Pen as I reckon the small size puts the guys I am shooting at ease, because of my love and passion for Olympus I became a sort of unofficial ambassador in 2010, and to our delight we were both selected to be official brand ambassadors four years ago. We assist them at launches and do product testing for them, Warren was chosen to do the wildlife testing of a new pro lens in their line-up. See also This site is not complete but should be soon.


Q: Tell us about your African portraits series featured here?

With me running short photographic courses I spent a large portion of time in the African Rural areas with trainees, the average young African kid and the adults love to be photographed and with the ability to show them the pic on screen is a bonus.  The series shown here is shot purely for the passion and not for resale. As mentioned I use Pen for this and never shoot with flash. One tip is that you should never walk up to your subject and start shooting, take the time to chat to them and find about about them and their families as this will lead to a extremely relaxed shoot.


I am a great believer in not loading myself with lots of camera gear, travel light and simple. At the end of the day I believe that everything in the world is beautiful, as long as you take the time to look at it and people are no exception.


Q: What attracts you to shoot people?

 Having spent a large part of my life working with a massive corporate company portraiture of senior management started this passion and living in Africa with African faces that always tell a picture this has turned into a major passion for me. You should bear in mind to be friendly and show an interest in the person, when I go out to shoot a sunset it is just me and the environment but with people there is verbal and body language communication.


Q: Have you ever had bad reactions from people you photographed? Do you have a particular approach to make sure people are happy to have their photo taken?

I have had no problems at all, on the odd occasion a person will ask you not to shoot them, I think that this all started in late 2009 when I decided to shoot a series of photographs for the world cup in 2010, my choice of camera was the Pen EP1 , as I traveled through these rural arias shooting I gave away numerous footballs (in total about 120) and this project was called The Ball And The Pen.   See!the-ball--the-pen/c1mil

Five years ago I approached Olympus about starting a community training course where we would integrate kids from all race groups and this project is ongoing into its sixth year.

This project has assisted me with my travels in these areas by being well known to the communities.


Q: What is your favourite place for photography and why?

I have two favorites firstly the rural arias because of the brilliant reaction from these guys as you will not find this in many parts of the world and secondly I have a passion for wildlife which is abundant in South Africa, shooting wildlife requires a lot of patience and a bit of good luck thrown in often helps to have luck on your side.


Q: What are your top 3 online resources to learn about photography?

I Enjoy DP review as this keeps us up to date about the gear,  see  for the passion is great and as a ambassador I make use of


Q: You seem to favour black and white. What's the main reason for it?

 When it comes to people I do favor black and white as I believe it allows me to tell a better inner story of my subjects, I also spent many year processing black and white and doing the printing, this has led me to set up a small darkroom to kinder the coals, see!film-course/c51t , I also have a passion for collecting old cameras and recently did a shoot on a Graflex circa 1026 see,!gallery/c1e9e  my camera collection is here,


Q: Finally what would be the one single piece of advice you wish you'd been given right at the start of your photography journey?

 My first recommendation about taking a journey into photography is that age does not matter, as I have seen people in their fifties pick up a camera for the first time and excel to be brilliant. 

I am a great believer in the project a day approach as this will allow you to channel your thoughts into a clearly defined approach, and whatever you do you do it with passion and love for the art of photography.

Thank you Ian!


Please visit:

Ian's website

Ian Street Photography

Facebook Page 

All photos © Ian Fleming