I love photojournalism. The waiting, finding and seeing special moments, that can often only be in existence as quick as a few seconds and then lost forever. There is beauty in that thrill of knowing it is possible to capture it, for it to be immortalised, to be shared and cherished. And having the double camera straps on me makes the two cameras feel like a natural extension of my body.
This year I have came across some beautiful leather camera accessories by Belt and Band. I fell in love with their leather double camera straps and took a drive to Durbanville to pick them up. I met Candice and Jacques to have a little catch up about their passion and love for their craftsmanship and to find out how they ended up in this historical building at Rust-en-Vrede Gallery.
“We both grew up in the area and went to the same school in Durbanville – it felt natural to come back. It was a leap of faith to leave behind a job of an engineering surveyor technician and marketing & branding at a law firm, for trust to succeed in a new career using our creative abilities and talents. The shift was not about money, it was about destiny and purpose.
Everything we produce is hand made from scratch and cut out with precision by hand. We only use full grain and veg-tan (vegetable tanned) leather which is the strongest and most durable leather. Veg-tan, unlike chrome-tanned leather, is far more environmentally friendly when processed at a tannery. It is a slower traditional process, which takes between 1-3 months in comparison with chrome-tanned leather which is a much faster process. Veg-tan leathers age with a beautiful patina. We also favour sourcing local South African products where possible. To add colour to our leather products, each order is hand stained according to our customers preference.
The products that are hand stitched, are done using a traditional technique called “Saddle stitching”. This is done to ensure the longevity of the stitch work so that the thread does not unravel, as well as minimises fraying or breaking. We use a selection of different premium threads for different applications. These are sourced locally as well as imported, such as “Lin Cable” and “Tigers Thread”. These threads are triple braided for strength and are specially manufactured for fine leatherwork.
Our camera straps are handmade from the finest full-grain vegetable tanned cow leather which we hand stain and then finish off by hand-burnishing the edges smooth. It is a long process of edge bevelling, sanding, staining, burnishing, and sealing with beeswax and resin, we prefer this traditional edge finish to painted edge. We feel that a fine leather product should be complimented with metal hardware that will last as long as the leather ,we use solid stainless steel and plated solid brass. Our camera strap kit is compatible with most cameras because it accommodates a 1/4inch (20 thread) fastener, that screws into the bottom tripod mount on the camera body. ” – Belt and Band
Jacques followed in his father and Oupa’s foot steps who where both natural artisans. He remembers as a young boy how his Oupa would hand-craft a gift for all the grandchildren each year. One year everyone received a leather belt with their name engraved on it and this left an impression on him. This hands-on expression of love for one another is something that Jacques inherited and that runs true in his family today.
Meeting Candice and Jacques, seeing them work and hearing just how much love and time they put into each piece makes me apriciate my camera straps even more. It is something that is part of my body for up to 14 hours a day on the photoshoots so I am happy to have come across these awesome people that have made it for me with care. There is something to be said about meeting the artist in person, walking into the shop, smelling the leather, choosing the colour and textures and I am humbled by people like Candice and Jacques that bring this timeless craftsmanship and it’s beauty to our world.