Perched up above the city center on the slopes of Signal Hill is one of the oldest, and certainly most colorful areas Cape Town; the historic neighborhood of Bo-Kaap.
In the early days of Cape Town most houses were painted white, but after the end of apartheid in the 1990’s some people in Bo-Kaap began painting their houses in bright colors as a way of celebrating, and the idea caught on and developed into a new tradition throughout the neighborhood. Most residents of Bo-Kaap are descendants of slaves brought to South Africa by the Dutch in the 16th and 17th centuries. And in spite of coming from many different regions such as Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and various African countries, the slaves were all known as Cape Malays. Then in 1795 the British seized control of Cape Town from the Dutch, and a few decades later came the end of slavery. The emancipated slaves started their new community in Bo-Kaap, which is still commonly called the Malay Quarter.
In this new era however things may be changing for Bo-Kaap. As it has gained notoriety, its new found popularity may be its own undoing as long-time residents are being priced out. Many wealthy outsiders have been buying up properties, and if this continues, Bo-Kaap’s unique identity could be lost forever. So If you have the chance don’t miss Bo-Kaap while it’s still a sight to see.
It was pouring rain as the parade was getting started, but that didn’t stop so many creative artists and performers from making a great show of the Mermaid Parade at Coney Island this year. The rain eventually did let up, but the sun never quite made it (mermaids aren’t afraid of a little water anyway)! Thanks to all of the talented and generous people who allowed me to take their photo. See more of my Mermaid photos at thomlang.com!
I collected all of the dirty, painted, or discolored coins that I found over many years and made this photo. TD Bank used it for display signage advertising their coin counting service in some of their Manhattan locations (licensed from my stock agency at the time, Corbis Images). So I dropped all of the coins in the machine at my local TD Bank and got clean money in return… I’m starting a new collection now.
These images are all from road trips of my past, when I had a camera that made square photographs with analog film, before digital and Instagram. This was from when I drove a car all the time, and my girlfriend Brig wouldn’t mind if we wandered off the main road and allowed curiosity to be the compass, before GPS. It was before my travel companion became my wife and before we moved to New York.
By revisiting these images I’ve traveled back in time in a sense, and they look different now. Originally I was drawn to the textures and colors of decay, and the long shadows of the late afternoon sun. I made these photographs to try to capture something I saw as beautiful and fleeting, and to preserve it before it was gone. So now I look again at the images after 20-some years and I think I’ve succeeded in a way, because I see in them a memory of my wife and me as our younger selves.
I think it’s okay to look back once in a while as long as we remember to keep moving forward… or even sideways, off the main road.