Photography on an epic scale for De Beers
“Everything is on such an astronomical scale. The mine itself is vast, but then there’s the equipment. The huge trucks are the biggest I’ve ever seen, and yet when they’re down in the pit they look tiny.”
That was photographer Kent Andreasen’s first impression of the De Beers Jwaneng mine in Botswana when he first saw it for a Pursuit photoshoot. Cut-8, the mine’s eighth extension below ground, is expected to provide access to around 93 million carats of diamonds, but 500 million tonnes of rock must be removed before these can be reached. When Cut-8 is ready to mine later this year, Jwaneng will be 2.7km long and 1.8km wide.
How do you capture this epic scale? “Featuring people helps to put the size of the mine into context,” Kent says. “For example, I shot a 6ft man climbing a ladder on the side of one of the huge trucks. The wheels alone are way taller than the average person.” He also shot the pit from the widest angle he could to show how the mine dominates the landscape.
We planned access to the mine so Kent could work with the best light. “Vehicles in the early morning dust were very atmospheric,” he says, while he preferred to shoot the pit a little later when the sun was higher in the sky. “Although by midday light can be very stark.”
The nearest town is a fraction of the size of the mine, so we chose a satellite image of Jwaneng for the cover of the print issue to set the scene from above, then zoomed in for more detail inside the magazine, using Kent’s photography to create an unmissable feature.
Find out more about our work with De Beers here.