Above: The Moederkerk in Stellenbosch. Photo: Jeremy Greeff.

– Lia Snijman

Jeremy Greeff has decided to challenge himself with a last South African project before emigrating to the United States of America. His project is to create a series of photos that reflect Stellenbosch’s story and its people.

He will be posting one photo on his website per day from 1 October onwards. He will be posting 49 photos for his 49 years of age. What will be setting his project apart is that each photo will only be online for one day on his website and Instagram page. However, if he sees that there is an interest, he will publish a book that contains all the photos.

He explains that his unconventional approach comes from realising that people are generally so inundated by images, especially via social media, that they do not look at images properly. 

Stellenbosch's Town Hall and art of Nelson Mandela. Photo: Jeremy Greeff.

Stellenbosch’s Town Hall and art of Nelson Mandela. Photo: Jeremy Greeff.

Jeremy Greeff at the Gautrain station. Photo: Jeremy Greeff.

Jeremy Greeff at the Gautrain station. Photo: Jeremy Greeff.

He says he has caught himself bookmarking images on Instagram in order to look back at it later, but never revisiting the images. When one knows that the image is only there for one day, one approaches it differently.

 Greeff points out that his project is an art project and that there is no financial imperative. “I’m not trying to sell one million books,” he chuckles. Previously he had been in the printing business, but this project is a labour of love for him.

Originally from Johannesburg and later moving to Hout Bay, he and his American wife have been visiting Stellenbosch since about 2000. He says he loves visiting the town as it has “great architecture”, a rich history, and interesting people, including the students. 

He speaks of the history in the buildings and how he can feel it. He is particularly a fan of the Cape Dutch architecture. He also mentions all of the art that is in Stellenbosch. 

 He would like to take street life photos, as Stellenbosch has such a vibrant street life. He says he will be trying to represent Stellenbosch properly. He feels that certain aspects, such as how it is built on agriculture, oftentimes get ignored.

He has always loved photography and says now that he has time on his hands, he can finally focus more on it. He defined his challenge to himself regarding the photos of Stellenbosch as a project because he feels that this gives him “a much tighter focus”. He now finds himself getting up early to take photos and pushing himself. It has also helped him to “put [him]self out there”, as he can be shy about artistic endeavours.

Greeff reminisces over a six-month period that he spent with his wife in South America where he took photos every day. As this was before digital photography, half of his backpack was film for his camera. He explains how looking for photos to take makes him “look deeper” and frame things in ways that he would not, had he not been taking photos.

While he does not believe now is the perfect time to capture Stellenbosch – with Covid-19 still being present, not all students being on campus – but certainly “an interesting time”. He is also excited because of spring arriving which has immediately lightened spirits and brought more people outside.