Derek McKenzie

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1953 and a

graduate in Electrical Engineering at the University of Cape Town, Derek subsequently abandoned engineering to pursue his passion for black and white fine-art photography full-time.

After ever-increasing interest and travels into the vast & semi-arid Karoo regions, he eventually based himself permanently in the old post office in the tiny town of Calitzdorp in the Little Karoo. He has from here for the last 7 years solely pursued his photographic vision. This has resulted in a large body of predominantly black and white Karoo photography.
The Karoos comprise the Great, the Little, the Moordenaar’s and the Ceres regions.

A 100 years ago the Calitzdorp/Oudtshoorn area was the global centre of the very lucrative ostrich industry, populated with many ‘Ostrich Palace’ homes and other interesting and unique architectural examples. The collapse of the industry impoverished the region, and it thus decayed into a ‘forgotten’ landscape which, to this day, contains still many a fascinating ruin.
Working in both medium 120 and large format 4” x 5” negatives, Derek is simultaneously exploring a number of Karoo themes. These include the empty and altered landscape, the architecture, and the succulent flora of these harsh and enchanting areas.

But his major focus is on ‘Abandonment/Departure’; which includes not only direct pictorial images but also very personal interpretations representing this sense of simplicity, of loss and of past endeavour.

It has been suggested that these images evoke the feeling implied by the Portuguese word ‘Saudade. viz. ‘a feeling for something which is gone, but might return in the distant future; but simultaneously with a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never really return’.

Derek personally processes his b&w photographs in the traditional manner from latent image on film to completion as editioned gelatin-silver fibre-based prints. These editioned black and white prints are either Selenium or Thiocarbamide toned for both archivality and aesthetics; and are predominantly in two sizes ( 8″ x 10″/ 20x25cm or 12″ x 16″/ 30x40cm ). He also does all his own dry mounting, matting and framing.

Furthermore, apart from his b&w photography, he is, at the same time, producing a body of colour work as his travels take him into the remote reaches of these Karoo regions.
Editioning philosophy: Any black and white silver gelatin image has one single edition of a particular quantity; and, within that edition, a particular printing may have its own interpretation through variation in size, toning, and choice of fibre-based paper. i.e. No image has editions in different sizes.

The archival digital color prints follow the same philosophy where, within the one edition, a printing may be on archival digital, cibachrome,etc. On occasion an image may be duplicated in both b&w and colour, in which case that image will have two separate editions.