Harding was one of those rare photographers whose mastery of technique was matched by his innate artistry, underpinned by a deep fascination for his subject
WELL-KNOWN former Kimberley businessman Melville Harding died in Cape Town on Sunday.
Harding, 54, was one of those rare photographers whose mastery of technique was matched by his innate artistry, underpinned by a deep fascination for his subject.
His evocative False Bay seascapes became highly sought after by both collectors as well as restaurateurs and hoteliers in the area.
He and his wife moved to the Cape in 2011, after a lifetime in Kimberley.
A devoted husband, father and grandfather, his passion for photography began while still a pupil at Kimberley Boys’ High, culminating in him being awarded full colours in his matric year. It was a natural progression for him to follow his passion as a career; first at the then Pretoria Technikon, then a short stint at the DFA as a staff photographer, before spending his mandatory national service as the unit photographer at One Maintenance Unit.
The moment he returned to civilian life, he immediately started his own photographic business, FotoHarding, providing both laboratory and professional photographic services.
He married his childhood sweetheart, Karen (nee Papenmeier) and the couple had two daughters; Nicole and Angela.
He was a man of great consuming passions; not just photography, but for the veld and in particular the Northern Cape. He was an enthusiastic outdoorsman, a hunter and a fisherman in his youth.
A people’s person to the very end, he was committed to helping any and all wherever he could with whatever he had.
A chance encounter with a half wild horse at the family shooting lodge just off the Paardeberg road would spark a career and life change. Led by his wife, the entire family learnt to ride properly, joining the Kimberley Equestrian Club and becoming mainstays of its executive, with Nicole achieving her provincial Free State/Northern Cape colours in showjumping and dressage.
The change was so profound that he closed the old FotoHarding business in the Sanlam Centre and re-opened a combined photographic lab and tack shop on DuToitspan Road. Eventually the business would move out entirely to Mein Heim, the farm he and Karen had bought on the Douglas Road, which they developed into a showjumping and dressage academy, a stud farm for Warmbloods and a bed and breakfast, while running plains game on the outlying camps.
The loss of their champion stud, Solid Gold, coupled to their daughters’ decisions separately to leave Kimberley, one to settle in the Cape and the other to go to university there, encouraged them to move too.
They settled in Fish Hoek, where he returned to his original love of photography, beginning first with a traditional photo lab in the Main Road. Before long he found himself more in demand as a commercial photographer and the business morphed seamlessly into a gallery, with exhibitions and commissions the length and breadth of the peninsula.
He coupled his photographic work with the practice of his faith, serving as a reader at the Christian Science Society in Fish Hoek and playing a significant role in the day-to-day running of the church.
He is survived by his wife, Karen; daughters, Nicole and Angela; son-in-law Paul Jardim, grandchildren Tyler and Damon, his father Mark Harding, brothers Mark (Jnr) and Stephen, sister Maxine and their families.
No funeral arrangements have been announced. – Kevin Ritchie