The mind’s eye behind Stellenboscheye with Jacques Ensink

It is through his mind’s eye that he captures the flicker of an eyelid, the droplet of water on our national flower, a heartbeat, a smile, a precious moment, a historical building. Essentially it is about celebrating our uniqueness, preserving our cultural heritage.

“You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved” – Ansel Adams

It was a fine winters morning when I met up with Jacques Ensink, his wife Jeanne and little daughter Kari in Stellenbosch.

Growing up in Stellenbosch gave him a deep understanding and connection with the people, the place and the atmosphere of our town. His mind’s eye trained to focus on images of importance.

His dad Japie Ensink was for many years the much-loved photographer working at Edrich in Stellenbosch. When Jacques was only eight years old, he had his first radio interview. He made a documentary on the Hermanus yacht club. He was responsible for the editing, the sound, the full package!

He studied advertising. He also studied classic art and graphic design with Pieter Vermaak. He ventured into sculpture as well. It was through these courses that he learns how the brain works, how to process pictures. This education taught him how to plan layout and composition.Without these skills, the creative process is not possible.

He is an entrepreneur at heart. Although he is involved in the professional world, he always has the freedom to nurture his gift of photography around play.

“Don’t shoot what it looks like, shoot what it feels like” – David Alan Harvey

Jacques wants to feel the drama when he is taking a photo. He will walk in the rain and climb the mountain to be close to the object or image he wants to take a picture of.

Even if something in the background, for example, a street light is making an unnecessary shadow, it will bring humility to the photo. It must not be perfect. It is telling the truth of what happened at that moment; thus ‘to be in the moment’

Jacques tries to take photos from the perspective of how people look at images. That is a critical part of his work. Is the story of the photo long enough? Everyone has to understand the narrative of the photo otherwise, he leaves it!

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… remembers little things long after you have forgotten everything” -Aaron Siskind

If one has feelings and empathy for things that are happening around you, then that feeling is reflected in the picture. In the human operation of Photography, there are so many variables that it can never bore you. The technique is to capture it and make all the pieces fit together.

A photo often has an answer to the reason for life. He takes a photo because he finds healing through it, but also because he wants to make life more beautiful for others.

Photography is created not by the camera but by the eye and the vision behind the camera.

It remains a challenge for him to take a good photo. He learns every time, he nurtures his creativity and continues to strive for perfection. One photo says a thousand words. Through the eyes of Jacques Ensink, the people of Stellenbosch will always feel the heartbeat of our town, be part of those precious moments that are part of our heritage.

To view more of Jacques work go to his website: