Originally, I shot this on spec to send to a magazine. The one I had in mind wasn't interested in running it. So I decided to share it here. Obviously, I'd still love to see this in print and so anyone interested in running these in a magazine or e-zine, please get in touch.
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Louis Botha is a busy road that runs all the way from Pretoria to Johannesburg. It snakes it’s way through some of Johannesburg’s most bustling areas along the way and is a multicultural phenomenon.
The people and places along the stretch of road running through Orange Grove is the subject of these photographs. There are vibrant street scenes with people who are full of life and energy.
What was once a busy shopping and commercial district has become run-down and dirty with many shops closed and vacant. The residents and owners of new and makeshift shops have ignored the disrepair and have embraced the area, filling many of the spaces with “spaza” shops, hairdressers, bars and churches.
The South African spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well here, mixing with immigrants from all over the continent and beyond and making a place that is exhilarating to see, a little scary to walk through and a quirky nod to the future of Johannesburg.
Running through both poor and affluent suburbs, Louis Botha Avenue sees its fair share of supercars and jalopies. Here, a new Porsche races past low-rent shops selling everything from used HiFi’s to traditional medicine.
The proprietor of this Spaza shop cleans out a bowl in the street.
A mother and child are pleased to have their picture taken.
Closed curtains and locked doors. there are many shops that are standing vacant. This area was bustling 30 years ago.
Necessities and unusual items on display through an open window.
A woman having her hair neatened and braided in a well-utilized space.
A baker stands proudly over his delicacies at Teddy’s Bakery. A tiny shop with almost no branding or presence save for an inconspicuous sign, their goods are quite delicious. The chocolate doughnuts were the best I’ve had.
A cobbler plies his trade on a street corner, surrounded by plastic bags and crates. I’ve lived in the area for over a decade and this gentleman has been here as long as I can recall.
Dark passages in old buildings. There is a man sitting just out of view behind the boarding on the window, keeping watch.
The hand-painted signs on cafés and businesses show wear-and-tear. People bustle about ignoring the paintwork in need of attention. The combination gives the area a remarkable character and vibrancy.
Churches have taken residence in many of the businesses.
A desolate building that once sold African gift and curios stands in disrepair. Men and women ignore the state of the buildings along the road and make their living selling goods, gifts and curios - though the average buyers are locals rather than tourists.
Taking a break from his work, a car mechanic spends some time catching up on his messages.
Barbed wire along a row of shuttered shops.
A gentleman sits selling his wares: snacks, sweets in packets, fruit and vegetables.
A group of ladies and children socialise on the steps of a run-down building.
A tiny hole in the wall being used as a makeshift business for men who collect scrap materials for cash.
A group of young men eagerly posed for me to photograph them then turned and carried on down the street, talking and laughing animatedly.