In 2009 I completed a photo essay for which I travelled to South Africa to capture the work of a volunteer medical team, working for the organization Equal Health, on the streets of Hillbrow. Once an upmarket suburb of Johannesburg, with an estimated one million people living in the 10.3 sq. km inner city, it is now one of the world’s most dangerous and densely populated areas. Crime has become the main business and HIV is rife.
A menacing air pervaded the streets in which the medical team saw their patients. I captured their work and the street life in the area where the team saw patients, distributed food and visited creches. I was forbidden to walk the streets on my own and there were restrictions as to who or what I could photograph. On occasions when I was allowed to leave the team to try to photograph life on the streets, it had to be in the company of a local aid from Equal Health. Suspicious eyes would scan us as we passed. Armed with only a single camera and one lens my shots had to be quick and as discreet as possible. My nervous guide was keen for us to keep moving. He explained that in the throbbing heart of Hillbrow, things could erupt at any moment.
As a photographer I found the trip rewarding and frustrating at the same time. I instinctively and selfishly wanted to get the best picture possible, but was compromised by the circumstances.