The real Paul Ward

Seemingly effortlessly, Paul Ward discreetly captures and expresses Cape Town’s nightlife through his photographic blog.

Delia: So who is “Paul Ward”?

Paul: Paul Ward is me.

Delia: But not really you.

Paul: But not my birth-name me.

Delia: So what is your birth name?

Paul: Paul is my real name, and “Paul Ward” is a combination of my two grandfathers’ names. I’ve got a Greek surname that is hard to pronounce. So I thought that if I’m going to be in the public eye, it might be better to have an easily recognisable name.

Choosing just the right name for a brand is always an intriguing marvel, but the energetic young creative actually doesn’t want to talk about “Paul Ward” and how it came about. He states simply, closing the subject: “‘Paul Ward’ is my creative pseudonym.”

Ward is photographer slash creative individual. Photography is definitely his most passionate medium but he feels that “photographer” is a really big title to give oneself and should be used with great discretion. The title of photographer has to be earned so Ward says he is a photographer but also a “general creative”.

This general creative’s enthusiasm for creativity is bold and relentless. The 22-year old studied advertising and art direction at Vega, and is especially passionate about branding and “creating creative things”. The creation of creative things has several manifestations for Ward. While photography is his main gig he has a number of sideline projects that include videography and working on brand ideas with art director friends. Creative collaborations are key for Ward, and its what he loves about being a general creative rather than just a photographer.

Creative generalist aside, it’s really Ward’s blog Diary of Ward that has drawn the most attention. The blog came about in an uneventful, if predictable, way. Ward started taking his camera out with him at night, as a kind of experiment and because he simply wanted to take more photographs. At around the same time, Ward read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, which introduces the 10 000 hour concept that proclaims that one will excel at something after doing it for 10 000 hours. “And then I thought of my mom who always says that if I work as much as I party… So it just made sense to me to combine the two and to always be taking photos.”

After taking photos of the local social scene for a while, Ward started the blog Diary of Ward as a showcase for his photographs. “I hated writing so I thought I could just tell people my life with a photograph.” He explains that he was meeting very interesting people and realised that it would be nice to one day be able to look back on the social scene of now: “Hopefully we can look back at these photographs in a couple of years and it will tell the story of an era. It will define what things were like now.”

The photos in Diary of Ward don’t really conform to a certain style, says Ward. “It’s grungy and it doesn’t matter so much about the quality as it does capturing the honesty of a moment.”

Ward’s commercial work, on the other hand, is almost the complete opposite, though he modestly says his commercial work is not nearly refined enough. “It’s like super ‘crunchy’… I don’t know what the word is. It’s like over-exaggerated in a way. It’s edgy and harsh, not soft and content.”

As a multi-disciplinary creative, his work is often also very experimental. This he believes is the result of his high school studies as a design student of Andrew Putter: “He always encouraged us to try everything, and now I don’t want to let all of that go and just focus on one thing.”

Ward elaborates: “I think I’m developing into a strong creative thinker. I often think in photographs, I like having creative ideas because even if I don’t have the creative skills or resources to execute them, I have friends who I can work with on a project.”

Having been surrounded by really talented designers since high school, Ward likes having the support of a network of creatives that he can draw on: “These creatives all have a similar ethos to me when it comes to their specialisation. They might have one title at work but they also do all these other things. It has to do with a new way of thinking about what you’re going to be when you ‘grow up’.”

Reflecting on the local creative industry, Ward is more than a little optimistic: “The youth are all coming out and there’s this keen sense of possibility. It’s like the wider community are opening their eyes to the possibilities of creativity. I think it’s the ultimate time to be a creative.”

Here's a look at Ward's Made photoshoot for the Youth edition of Design Indaba magazine.