© 2021 Desmond Louw & Antonia Heil
dna photographers / Cape Town, South Africa / Berlin, Germany
All rights reserved.

Soul on Track / shot for Porsche Driving Experience / Circuit Paul Ricard / Le Castellet, France

[commercial] The beautiful Circuit Paul Ricard. Amazing what a lick of paint can do. 💙❤️ Shot for Porsche.

*These images are protected by copyright.


Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 4MATIC+ / shot for Mercedes-Benz / Stuttgart, Germany

[commercial] Serenity at the highest level. Fun shoot a few weeks back with the beast, the Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 4MATIC+. Location: Stuttgart, Germany. Model: Terry. Shot for Mercedes-Benz / #MBCreator.


Porsche Driving Experience / shot for Porsche Leipzig / video / Leipzig, Germany

[commercial/video] Some Porsche 992 GT3 goodness! While doing a photoshoot at the Porsche Leipzig track I switched my camera to video to take some clips. DNA – Desmond

*The images and the video are protected by copyright.

Porsche 356 B Super 90 Coupé / shot for Porsche Klassik / South Africa

[editorial] Driving a Porsche 356 in the Karoo (in South Africa) with one of my best friends Nic Grobler was a road trip of a lifetime. No plan, no map, just letting it happen. We ended up camping in a graveyard in freezing weather. Luckily we made a nice fire. While sitting there, we realized, the lady next to us (well, six feet under) is celebrating her 90’th birthday. So creepy and awesome! This story was produced for Porsche Klassik in Germany. If you’re based in the German world, the issue is out today! For our English friends, find Nic’s awesome story below. DNA – Desmond

Camping with the Super 90

As I finish checking the tire pressure before heading out of Cape Town, a ten-year-old boy with an old BMX takes over the pump. In the corner of my eye, a white flash coupled with a loud bang. I’m in the air, almost on top of the car — ears ringing. The boy glares at the giggles in the distance. Tears start running. Head in his hands, he sobs: “I just bought this tube!” — it seems like a big deal. Desmond, my friend, and road trip partner agrees that we need to help out. After fitting a new tire and tube, the local bicycle shop owner, asking about our trip, says with a smile, “that is not a camping car.” Crossing paths with the boy, confirms the tone for our journey — of synchronicity and U-turn style surprises.

“Nic, so what is our plan?” Desmond asks. When it comes to these types of trips, I usually prefer not having one, favouring only a direction, an idea — to give in to horizontal gravity in some way. Our ‘plan’: head into the semi-desert Karoo to wild camp somewhere, take the 356 for a service in a small town in between, and I’ll try to get a picture of a Koppie (a small hill), for a photographic project — the service, our only practical ‘destination’. I’ve also been curious about this 1963 Porsche’s ‘Super 90′ engine. Perhaps the mechanic, who happens to be a veteran engine builder, can tell us something about the ’90’.

I was ten years old, driving with my father, who has a very adventurous spirit, when he made a U-turn to buy this car. Growing up, I remember some trips, but I also remember it as an everyday runner. Thirty years later, and after a restoration project, our relationship has evolved. The 356 mostly waits ‘safely’ in a garage in Cape Town. Also, I don’t love driving in town — preferring a bicycle. But, every few months, it comes out for a trip, some over 1000km. I’ve taken it camping, and even had two bicycles on the roof!

Ascending into the Karoo on the N1 (national highway), our next mini-adventure appears. We pass a small roadside veld fire, probably caused by a cigarette. With the wind picking up, it could spell disaster. After a slightly dangerous U-turn, we stomp out the fire with our feet, a first for both of us. Later it occurs to me that I keep a fire extinguisher in the car — next time.

Desmond, a professional car photographer, mentions how he enjoys feeling connected to the elements in this 356 — “a bit like when I’m on my motorbike.” You feel closer to the road, and you can hear the wind — a visceral experience. I’ve also enjoyed trips in various cars, but engaging with the world from this one is different. It’s an object of beauty, in harmony with the environment. It is even different in a social interaction type of way. Whilst it may be in the category of ‘sports car’, it is not very aggressive — often enjoying waves and smiles. I sometimes think that if the 356 were an animal, it would probably be a dolphin — fast, but friendly.

The sun is now setting in the Karoo. Our wild camp idea, not working out yet. Passing through mostly sheep and game farms covering vast areas, we are kept on the road by fences and ‘private property’ signs — a tricky place to hide, especially if we make a fire. The weather is also making a turn for the worse. Passing a farmhouse, we realise that we might need to turn around at some point. The farmer’s son stops next to us with his pick-up truck further on, “you need to speak to the boss… my dad can be full of shit.” We turn back. Jan du Plessis, the farmer, isn’t very talkative. Desmond points up to the big sheltering trees near a kloof above the house. Jan says “yes, if you don’t mind the graveyard, you can sleep there.”

It’s freezing and windy. We take shelter between the 356 and the low graveyard wall. The fire, lamb, mushrooms, and sweet potato straight on the coals offers some comfort. Even though we dug a fire-hole and put some big rocks around it, embers are still flying off now and then with the severe wind. After securing more rocks around the fire, we make sure the last coals die out, then pitch our tents. With the sound of swirling pine trees and dreams of the deceased under the ground next to us, I struggle to sleep. The voice of Jan du Plessis wakes us up in the morning, with some flowers in his hands, standing next to one of the graves, “it was my mother’s birthday yesterday, she would have turned 90.”

Asking him about his life, he says, “this is a hard place to live, but I prefer it here, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else.” Jan invites us to visit again. “Come earlier. I’ll show you a better spot across this ridge — there are some wild horses there.”

Over the last few years, I’ve preferred servicing the car at Andreno Motors with Arno van Wyk. His engine-builder workshop is out in a small town, Villiersdorp. I refer to it as an ‘air-cooled shrine’, it’s been a family affair for over 60 years. Complete with floor-to-ceiling photographs of their old rally driving days and a unique collection of air-cooled cars, including a ‘prototype’ 1954 beetle with only 36000km on the clock, “the only one left in the world” — we’ll be in good company.

This time, although Arno only needs to replace the oil and filter and set the tappets and timing, you can appreciate his experience. All the years have given him a kind of poetic cadence. According to him, if you maintain an engine, it would keep going forever. Pointing to a display-wall of damaged engine parts, with the words ‘YOU BEND IT, WE MEND IT!’ he says everything that goes wrong is due to human error. Like failing to check the oil or overdoing it when driving — “it’s human, man-made trouble.”

In between servicing the car, having some tea with Arno and his wife, and plenty of rally stories, we walk through the workshop, past what feels like 100s of engines in progress. “We can adapt your Super 90 engine, from a 90 to 100.” Arno says, “the sleeve kits come from America — I’ve done two of them before.” He explains “you can’t see any difference from the outside, but you can feel it. Consider doing it once you have a problem. Otherwise, it is a waste of money.” I appreciate Arno’s practical approach.

It makes me sad to know that Arno’s son won’t take over from him — he can earn a lot more working in an office. I wonder, where will this 356 be serviced 20 years from now, will there be some poetic cadence there as well?

After another eventful camping night, and taking the picture I needed, we drive home, I’m processing the trip: I think about the uncomfortable moments, like not knowing where you’ll sleep as the sun is setting, and how being open to the new and unknown makes it all worthwhile. To be found, you have to get lost first. Those wild horses are waiting.


Subaru Forester 2021 / shot for Subaru Southern Africa / Cape Town, South Africa

[commercial] Subaru Southern Africa just launched the new Subaru Forester, it’s better and stronger than ever. The new 2.5-litre Subaru Forester is sporting a more powerful drivetrain and retaining the Forester’s all-around excellence and Subaru dependability. We got to shoot two models, the 2.5i Sport ES (white) and the 2.5i-S ES (bronze) and we loved the drive! We shot in Cape Town and on the beautiful Piket-Bo-Berg on the Retreat Guest Farm. Big thanks to everyone involved, especially our models and Thule.


Ferrari Testarossa / shot for Crossley & Webb / Cape Town, South Africa

[automotive] This beauty, the Ferrari Testarossa (1990) is for sale at Crossley & Webb in Cape Town and we got to shoot this sweet baby.

WHAT MAKES THE FERRARI TESTAROSSA SPECIAL?
The Ferrari Testarossa, produced from 1984 to 1996 is the flamboyant, futuristic “poster car” of the 1980s. Its impact has not diminished on the car world since its launch, partly due to its strong representation in popular media. This bold Pininfarina designed classic supercar is powered by a 4.9l flat 12-cylinder naturally aspirated Tipo F113A engine which produces 380 BHP and offers a driving experience not matched by the current “digital” supercars.


New Audi Q7 / shot for Audi South Africa / Cape Town, South Africa

[automotive] While shooting the new Audi Q7, we shredded quite a few kilometers in and around Cape Town. What a powerful and luxurious vehicle that surely turned many heads; it was hard to give it back. 😉 Shot for Audi South Africa.


ISUZU mule / shot for ISUZU Motors South Africa / Port Elizabeth, South Africa

[automotive] A few weeks back we shot the new ISUZU bakkie. So far it’s a mule riding around Port Elizabeth being tested. It’s incredibly beautiful and has a big presence. This test mule has been riding dirt roads 16 hours a day (two shifts) for weeks already, loaded with a ton at the back, getting it ready for the African market. 


ISUZU mu-X / shot for ISUZU Motors South Africa / Cape Town, South Africa

[automotive] Road tripping with the mu-X was such a treat after months of lockdown. South Africa showed its most beautiful side; we’ve never seen this country so colorful, there were flowers everywhere.
Click here to look at the lifestyle shoot we did with this mu-X.


2020 Edition Isuzu X-Rider 3.0TD / shot for ISUZU Motors South Africa / Port Elizabeth, South Africa

[automotive] The new Isuzu 3.0TD X-Rider shot in ISUZU Motors South Africa’s base, in Port Elizabeth. 


ISUZU mu-X / lifestyle / shot for ISUZU Motors South Africa / Cape Town, South Africa

[automotive] We loved driving the ISUZU mu-X as much as shooting it! This car has so much space, it was the perfect road trip vehicle. We spent a day around Cape Town with our awesome models Sheralle and Jared and their precious baby, showcasing that this is a wonderful family car. 😉  


Toyota Fortuner Epic / shot for Media 24 / Western Cape, South Africa

[commercial] We shot these advertorials for a couple of Media 24 magazines (Men’s Health, Bicycling, Women’s Health, Weg!, Weg! Ry & Sleep, Go, Go Drive & Camp). The star of the shoot was the New Toyota Fortuner Epic.
Great crew, lekker vibes, and loads of fun!


ISUZU Reed Garage & ISUZU Truck Centre / Cape Town, South Africa

[commercial] A couple of weeks ago, when businesses finally opened up again, we got to shoot the Reeds garage and the ISUZU Truck Centre in Cape Town. The message: we are open for service! We had a fun time documenting the mechanics doing what they do best. Shot for ISUZU South Africa.


BMW 530e Plug-In Hybrid / shot for BMW Germany / Cape Town, South Africa

[TVC / commercial] We had the amazing opportunity to shoot the stills for an international BMW ad in our beloved Cape Town. Long hours, stress, hurry up and wait and everything else packed into four days. Thank you to everyone involved! Ad produced locally by Giant Films, internationally by Tempomedia. Launched last week, have a look at the ad on youtube.


ISUZU X-Rider Double Cab automatic / shot for ISUZU Motors South Africa / Cape Town, South Africa

[automotive] Red against blue (Cape Town sky and the sea) just works. It was wonderful driving the ISUZU X-Rider automatic. It’s a smooth city car for the bakkie lovers. These shots are for the ISUZU press kit.


Porsche Track Experience / season 2019

[automotive] Another Porsche Track Experience season in the bag – 2019 was amazing! We photographed all over on Europe’s greatest race tracks, produced lot’s of content, met old friends and made new ones. It’s awesome being part of the Porsche family. Thanks to everyone! We get to work with the best on this special brand!


Taycan / shot for Porsche / Autodromo Internacional do Algarve / Portimao, Portugal

[commercial] We just got back from a trip to Portugal shooting for Porsche at the beautiful Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimao. We can’t wait to share more images but for now it will be the very highlight: shooting the Taycan, Porsche’s first full on electric car. As Desmond said: “I have a new benchmark when it comes to acceleration. Before yesterday the benchmark was the power you feel when you lose control of a 9m2 c-kite in the Cape Town southeaster 😂 The Taycan is here and it is awesome inside and out. It sounds like a X-fighter in Star Wars with ⚡️.” Thanks to Lars for drifting like a boss so close to the tracking car 🙏
*this image is protected by copyright


ISUZU MU-X shot for High Life, British Airways’ inflight magazine / Cederberg, South Africa

[advertorial] We drove to Wupperthal and did the donkey trail in the Cederberg mountains. What a blast!! Check the airtime Antonia got in one of the shots. 😂
To see Wupperthal after the devastating fires from New Year’s Eve 2018 was really sad. Much of the historic town was destroyed. Though, we met locals who were super positive with the rebuilding. #sterkte
Shot for British Airways’ inflight magazine High Life.


Toyota Corolla shot for High Life, British Airways’ inflight magazine / Cape Town, South Africa

[advertorial] The new Toyota Corolla (2019) pleasantly surprised us. The interior is beautiful, the exterior fresh and the ride super comfortable. We were asked by British Airways’ inflight magazine High Life to take her to Muizenberg and Kalk Bay and have a colourful shoot. The weather didn’t play along but we made the best of it!


Red Bull Cape Town Circuit Formula 1 / Cape Town, South Africa / 2 June 2019

[automotive] Last weekend was big! Shooting a F1 car is probably on every car photographer’s list and boy oh boy did I shoot a F1 car. We took the car to the unfinished highway in Cape Town early Friday morning to shoot some photos for the Saturday newspaper. On Saturday we shot the car together with the whole team – including David Coulthard – for a short film (Can’t wait for the release of this!).  Sunday was the big event where the absolute power and sound of this piece of engineering stunned the whole of Cape Town!
South Africa is so hungry to host a F1 event again, hearing that sound of the V8 bouncing between the buildings of Darling street gave me goosebumps all over!
Thank you Red Bull for the gig and thanks for Wayne Reichie and Craig Kolesky for all the support and good times. DNA – Desmond


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