‘Born on a farm in Africa. (On the 26th of August 1947 to be exact). Spent most of my first eight years running around barefoot like a wild little madman. Later went to an English High School and started wearing shoes. Managed to scrape through final exams but excelled at sport and girls. Was drafted into the South African Air Force, but did a lot more athletics than aerial combat. Went to Stellenbosch University and studied Graphic design, drinking, dancing, rugby and athletics. Was made aware that cameras can produce images. Fell in love with photography and Lynn. Bought a Hasselblad camera and got married.
Looked around and became aware of the bad political situation in South Africa. In 1970, said goodbye to all the friends and parents and went off to study photography in München, Germany. Quickly learnt that fun and hard work didn’t mix. Broadened my horizons in many ways. Learnt that to excel in image making needed total enthusiasm and commitment. Received top marks in the final exams.
In 1973 worked as camera assistant at a German Film Company. Started to long for the wide-open plains of Africa. Returned to South Africa to find that Apartheid was at its worst.
In 1979, returned to München to complete a Masters Diploma at the Bavarian State Institute of Photography. In 1980 returned to South Africa and became Associate Professor of Photography at Rhodes University, Grahamstown. Didn’t cause any shit so remained in that position till my retirement from academia in 2002.
Moved to Nature’s Valley and started working freelance. Have never lost my enthusiasm for photography. From 1975 to the present day, have produced 10 coffee table books. (‘Momento Mori’ was a collaboration with historians). During this time, have had 34 solo exhibitions in South Africa and 10 International one-man exhibitions in Europe. Still photographing for many international publications around the world.’
Interview with Obie Oberholzer on Nelson Mandela’s legacy (2013):
Interview on YouTube →
TRAINING AND QUALIFICATIONS
1965 Matriculated at Clapham High School, Tshwane (Pretoria), South Africa.
1966 Air Force Gymnasium, Tshwane (Pretoria).
1970 Graphic Design, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.
1972 German National Diploma in Photography, Bavarian State Institute of Photography, Munich, Germany.
1973 Cameraman, Deutsch Condor Film, Munich, Germany.
1974 Commercial Photographer, South Africa.
1979 Masters Diploma in Photography, Bavarian State Institute of Photography, Munich, Germany.
1975 – 1983: Lecturer in Photography, Quazulu- Natal Technikon, South Africa
1984: Lecturer in Photography, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
1993: Senior Lecturer and Head of the Photography Section, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
1999: Associate Professor and Head of the Photography Section, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
– 35 solo exhibitions, (1975 to 2004) in various galleries in South Africa.
– 12 International solo exhibitions:
Hamburg, Frankfurt, Herten and Koln in Germany;
Madrid, Cartagena, Las Palmas & Barcelona in Spain;
Boulder (USA) Bielsko-Biala (Poland) Venlo (The Netherlands)
– Work published in South African magazines:
Scope, Huisgenoot, Personality, Cosmopolitan, Latern, Flying Springbok, Getaway, Millennium, Leadership, Profoto, Fair Lady, Sunday Times. De Kat.
– International Magazines:
Color Photography, Foto, Stern, Merian, GeoSaison, Die Zeit, (Germany) Grande Reportage, (France) Conde Nast, Traveler, (USA) Conde Nast Traveller, (Italy & Spain), Geography International (USA), The Daily Telegraph (England). Architectural Revue. (England)
VARIOUS INTERNATIONAL ASSIGNMENTS
Caribbean, Naples and Islands (Italy), Peloponnese (Greece), Hamburg (Germany), South Africa, Namibia, New England area (USA), French Wine areas, Kenya (Hemingway’s Hunting Safaris), Zanzibar (Tanzania), Trobiant Islands (Papua New Guinea), New Zealand, Australia, The Netherlands, Socotra Island (Yemen) and various African countries.
Member of the International ‘Fotogloria’ Picture Agency (Hamburg, Germany). – fotogloria.de →
Honorary Member – PPSA (The Professional Photographers of Southern Africa).
SELECTED COMMERCIAL CLIENTS
Land Rover, Delta Motor Corporation (Isuzu), Volkswagen, Toyota, First National Bank, Singita Lodges, South African Parks Board, CC Africa, Tanzanian Breweries (owned by South African Breweries)