CTMS Interview : Flyinghorse Photography (Bruce Geils)

Interview by: Ezelle Louw (@lupaphotography)


To view life through the lens of a photographer is a rather special occurrence, it is even more so when you connect with the work he does. This is how I experience the work of Bruce “Flyinghorse” Geils. His documentary style speaks for itself, powerful images which showcases its talent for capturing life as it unfolds or snapping people in their most comfortable moments. Those are the ones you want to capture and believe me, it’s an art in itself to do so in the manner in which Bruce does it.

Photography has always been a part of his life since he was young and has known that he would keep it as a travel buddy. Do yourself a huge favour and page through the striking images of “Flyinghorse Photography”, they say what they need to and leave you with a lasting impression. Bruce was so kind to answer some of our questions. 

The man behind the lens: Bruce Geils

The man behind the lens: Bruce Geils

I see life as a massive work of art. You can make something that is just mind-blowing and filled with magic and love or you can watch TV and waste it. It’s up to you, you are the artist, it’s your canvas.” – Bruce Geils


How did you get into photography?

Growing up, my uncle had this wayward buddy that always used to arrive at our house, only on Christmas Day though, on his badass motorcycle. He was so different from everybody else I knew. I was probably 10 years old and obviously, really impressionable, he was a photographer. I thought he was cool and strange. I remember thinking I also want to be cool and strange. So I think that was an early seed that was planted. I’m a graphic designer by trade and photography was always a hobby I was into. Travel photography really started me off though, trying to take a piece of the beauty home with me, backpacking around Europe with an old film camera and then later travelling South Africa and Namibia with a digital point and shoot, and a really patient girlfriend.


What is your favourite piece of equipment you own right now?

I don’t have a favourite piece of equipment, but RadLab (editing plugin for Photoshop) has made editing faster.


Although you shoot in many different genres of photography, I would like to know to you apply different “formula’s” to the various areas of photography? 

Yeah, there are different things to do for different scenarios, but when shooting anything my first rule is “ Natural” I use that a lot for shooting people, I want to capture things as they really are, or as I see them and for people to be who they really are. I really don’t like posed stuff. I do a bit of “not natural” composite work on some jobs but that’s something else entirely.


What is it about photography that inspires you to keep creating? 

Photography is my way of recording how I see the world. The world is strange and beautiful. Photography is just one outlet of creativity. So creativity keeps me creative. If I couldn’t create there wouldn’t be much point. I see life as a massive work of art. You can make something that is just mind-blowing and filled with magic and love or you can watch TV and waste it. It’s up to you, you are the artist, it’s your canvas.


The most important advice you’ve received as photographer? 

I have had a lot of good advice. Like back up your files! But Ansel Adams said” Some photographers take reality…. and impost the domination of their own thought and spirit. Others come before reality more tenderly and a photograph to them is an instrument of love and revelation.” That stuck with me.


Tell us a bit about the difficulties of shooting live band photography? 

Lighting and timing. Some venues are poorly lit and bouncing a speedlite flash rarely looks good. So you have to wait for the lighting to be just right and that takes a bit of practice, knowing when the right time is to hit the shutter. You need a lens with a big aperture too. I shoot bands on F.2.8 (Some good advice I learned from Sean Brand) and always with a trusty Sigma 30mm.


Name 3 essential traits a photographer should have? 

I think a photographer should have a quiet, open mind, be respectful and passionate. And be a bit of a loner, you’re always on the outside as a photographer, a bit detached, watching, waiting.

Bruce Geils - Mr CAT and the Jackal

Bruce Geils – Mr CAT and the Jackal

Who inspires you as photographer? 

Man, too many! Edward S. Curtis, Annie Leibovitz, Obie Oberholzer, Clayton Austin, Sally Mann, Tom Hoops, Pieter Hugo, Adriaan Louw, Kevin Goss Ross. There are far too many amazing photographers in the world to think of offhand.


What is your favourite lens, one which you never leave without? 

Sigma 30mm F1.4


You collaborate a lot with the talented Mr.Cat and the Jackal, tell us a bit more about how  your paths crossed? 

We met on the 2009 Avontoer, they are crazy and so talented. I like crazy. We just clicked. When I met them I just had this feeling that they were going to be huge and they had such an unique sound and vibe. They inspired me. So we organised a shoot. They came to Swellendam (where I live with my family) we partied and got up to crazy shit for a weekend. That’s when we shot “The Flood” image. Our relationship sort of just grew from there.


What are the pro’s and con’s of being a photographer? 

Pro: You get to do what you love (why would anyone do something they don’t love for work).

Con: Photographers rarely get weekends.


What is the attraction to live band photography? 

For me it was always about the music, being part of that. Good times.


How to you experience the current local music industry? 

I’m a little out of touch with the music industry. It’s quite hard to make a living as a photographer in the music industry in South Africa. So you start there, it’s fun, it’s in the deep end so you learn heaps and it’s great exposure for upcoming talent….and then you move on and do work  that pays the rent. I still try to shoot gigs when I can. Two of my favourite local guys are actually doing well still shooting in the music scene , Mark Reitz and Adriaan Louw, I think they are travelling overseas now, but still shooting music.


You were the cinematographer for “Bad Man Comin – Mr.Cat & The Jackal” which won a MK award this year, tell us about the experience?

It was crazy, the most challenging project I’ve done to date. Danielle, Marius and Andel (Yesterfang) and I went to the Free State to shoot this. It took about 15 days to shoot all the stills and then about another 6 months to edit each shot. I shot about 8000 images in total. The Fangs only bought a block of puppetry wood and a Cue Ball (Badsy’s Eye) with them to the Free State and we sourced all the other material and props from the “veld”.  Animal bones, a dead horses’ rotting hind leg (which we each took turns carrying) and skull and all the other bits and pieces you see in the video.  We wanted to make something special and authentic.

We wanted people to know this was a puppet and not CGI so we left the strings in but because there were only four of us we had use supports and ladders and things, so we had a little bit of rubbing out to do. Once we were happy with the images Danielle, Marius and I sat down and put it all together over a few late nights. Those guys are so talented. I’m hoping we get to do something even crazier (and longer) together soon.

We actually got a couple of awards for the vid, which we are pretty proud of; Dan and Marius even flew to Croatia to Supertoon Festival

Winner of the MK Award 2012 for Best Animation / SFX



Bruce Geils - Pretty Blue Guns

Bruce Geils – Pretty Blue Guns

Are you a self taught photographer or did you have a mentor that showed you the ropes?

Self Taught


How would you describe your style?



Do you remember the first camera you owned?

Grew up with a Kodak Brownie. First camera I bought was a Minolta something or other.


Give us a bit of background on your workflow?

Idea.  Plan.  Scout location. Shoot. Sort in Lightroom, export, Edit in Photoshop.


If you could offer any golden rule to photographers starting out, what would you tell them?

I’d tell anyone to do what they love. If you love photography do it. Grab it with both hands, hold fast. Stick with it. That’s the only way to get good at something, keep doing it and when you are really good, people will pay for your work. And always get a 50% deposit before you start a job. There are some shifty cats out there.


What has been your favourite shoot that you’ve done of a band? 

Mr Cat & The Jackal’s – The Flood is still one of my faves.


Is there one genre in photography you favour above all else?



What is the one lasting impression you would like to leave in your trail of photographs?

That life is beautiful and sometimes very strange.


What is your favourite photography accessory, other than your camera? 

My eyes.


The first photographer that comes to mind and why?

Edward S. Curtis. Because he was there. Where I wish I could have been.



Where on the social media can we view your work? 

www.facebook.com/flyinghorsephoto or on instagram – flyinghorsephoto or check out my blog http://flyinghorsephotography.blogspot.com/

Bruce Geils - Van Coke Kartel

Bruce Geils – Van Coke Kartel

Bruce Geils - Stepdog

Bruce Geils – Stepdog

Bruce Geils - Pretty Blue Guns

Bruce Geils – Pretty Blue Guns

Bruce Geils - Mr CAT and the Jackal

Bruce Geils – Mr CAT and the Jackal

Bruce Geils - Karen Zoid

Bruce Geils – Karen Zoid

Bruce Geils - Mr CAT and the Jackal

Bruce Geils – Mr CAT and the Jackal

Bruce Geils - Boo

Bruce Geils – Boo


Bruce Geils - Mr Cat and the Jackal

Bruce Geils – Mr Cat and the Jackal

Bruce Geils - Johannine

Bruce Geils – Johannine

Bruce Geils - Beer, Zinkplaat

Bruce Geils – Beer, Zinkplaat

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