Ockie Fourie lives a double life. During the day he buries his head in spreadsheets and product catalogs, while speaking margins and markups as local brand manager for a major surfing lifestyle brand – when the office door closes, he turns into @theworldsyoungestman, a talented photographer whose distinctly toned-down style and intimate images of people has garnered him nearly 50,000 followers on Instagram.
As with so many talented photographers, Ockie stumbled upon photography by accident. He was traveling quite a lot for work and decided to document his travels with a point-and-shoot camera – the more photographs he snapped, the more he got into it and soon realized that he had to invest in better equipment in order to fully express himself.
When Instagram launched in 2010, he quickly saw the potential of the platform, not only for showcasing his work and developing as a photographer, but also for finding inspiration.
“You gain so much inspiration by scrolling through Instagram on a daily basis. So many aspiring photographers have climbed the ranks purely by showcasing their work on Instagram,” he said in a recent interview.
Going by the moniker theworldsyoungestman, a name taken from a skit on a ‘90s British TV parody show, he’s been featured on the platform a number of times and has also been ‘Instagrammer of the Week’ in publications like The Daily Beast. While these gave him a healthy boost in followers, Ockie does not let his followers dictate what he shoots.
“You always think how your followers will react to an image, but at the end of the day, you are shooting for yourself and posting what YOU like. That’s how we all started on Instagram, right? Stay true,” he said about his nearly 50,000 followers.
This type of recognition also draws the attention of brands, and Ockie has done work for a number of well-known brands, including Red Bull. However, there’s a fine line between doing commercial work and keeping your integrity as an artist – a line he has managed to toe quite successfully and he says it all boils down to what you want from it and how much of your integrity you want to keep.
“I think you need to pick your projects, because you can’t be everything to everyone. On a personal level, align yourself with brands that you are passionate about… If it’s purely for commercial purposes, your client base can be much broader, depending if there are retainers from existing brands. I have worked with brands where the brief was to shoot in my specific style, which are the jobs I enjoy most.”
Ockie Fourie is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet – always friendly, always approachable and without any airs and graces. His warm nature and easy-going personality has enabled him to gain the trust of total strangers, allowing him to capture intimate moments of regular people going about their daily lives. Asked about his favorite shot, he tells of a deaf-mute man named Aubrey that he met in Woodstock, a run-down suburb on the outskirts of Cape Town’s CBD.
“I managed to make him laugh out loud and snap a photo at the same time, which was a golden moment for me.”
Despite the thousands of followers, the big-name brands knocking at his door and the deserved attention his work gets, Ockie stays true to himself and his craft, and when he’s not stuck in meetings, surfing the cold waters around Cape Town or roaming the streets in search of a good shot, he can be found with his wife somewhere off the beaten track on a weekend adventure, taking him back to where it all began – documenting his travels and the sheer love of taking pictures.