In March 2020 the Women’s Work photography exhibition was held at the Ellen Melville Centre in Auckland to celebrate International Women’s Day. The concept behind the show stemmed from the fact that the vast majority of commercial photographers are men. So, Women’s Work encouraged people to take a break from the male perspective and see the world through the female gaze. Sony New Zealand was a major sponsor of the exhibition, which featured the work of 21 female photographers from the Advertising Illustrative Photographers Association (AIPA). We spoke with Victoria Baldwin who was the creative director of the exhibition and whose work was featured.
As the Auckland Vice President of the AIPA, Victoria wanted to create an opportunity to engage and promote AIPA’s female members and shine a light on the inequality in the photography industry. “The photography industry is quite male-dominated. Today there are still groups of camera brand ambassadors, photography panels, industry advisory boards, and photography agency rosters composed entirely of men,” Victoria says.
In March 2020 the inaugural Women’s Work photography exhibition was held in Auckland to celebrate International Women’s Day. The aim of the event was to showcase the work of 21 female photographers from the Advertising Illustrative Photographers Association (AIPA), while also drawing attention to the current imbalance in gender representation throughout the commercial photography industry. We recently caught up with Vanessa Wu whose work was featured.
Vanessa has been voted one of the top 200 advertising photographers worldwide by Lürzer’s Archive, and is only the second female in New Zealand to have been awarded this achievement. She says she enjoyed her involvement in the Women’s Work exhibition as it brought female photographers together for moral support and empowerment. “As a freelance photographer, it can be a lonely business, so having a platform where we can share our views and get support from our peers is great,” Vanessa says.
Sometimes you see things that you just feel compelled to photograph. When New Zealand born, Tokyo based architectural photographer Cody Ellingham decided to travel through Thailand last year he had no intention of creating a photo book of his trip, but as soon as he arrived in Bangkok he changed his mind. “Suddenly I was assaulted by these visions of the city at night. There’s a certain image that goes with Thailand — beautiful beaches, secluded lagoons, that sort of stuff — it’s a holiday destination. But when you get off the beach and explore Bangkok, you’re faced with this concrete jungle,” Cody explains.
In April, 2018, Auckland-based portrait photographer Ilan Wittenberg won the grand prize at the Sony Alpha Awards. His prize included a trip to Tanzania with World Photo Adventures, so in February this year Ilan travelled to Africa to go on safari and photograph the local wildlife. While he was in Tanzania Ilan also met members of the Maasai community and took the opportunity to produce his Maasai People portrait series. “I made special effort to connect with the indigenous population and was very fortunate to create these extraordinary portraits. These are not candid snapshots, but carefully composed portraits that honour the Maasai people,” he explains.
After avoiding New Zealand’s winter for four years in a row by heading to the Northern Hemisphere and summer climates, filmmaker and photographer Ben Mikha decided it was time to stick it out and experience a New Zealand winter for a change. But he didn’t just stay at home with the heat pump on — he took his Kiwi winter experience to the next level. Ben and two of his friends (Ron and Rob) packed up and took to the roads exploring stunning landscapes from Aoraki and Mount Cook to Canterbury and Napier. During the trip, Ben shot 45 timelapses, two hyperlapses, more than 1000GB of footage and more than 50,000 photos. He incorporated a lot of this to create a stunning video of winter in New Zealand.
Commercial photographer Vinesh Kumaran was born in the small rural town of Ba, Fiji, but at the age of five his family relocated to Māngere, Auckland. Following this move to New Zealand, Vinesh spent much of his time growing up working in the family owned and operated dairy with his dad and siblings. “We spent endless hours behind the shop counter. This meant at times we would miss out on family gatherings and social events,” he says. “Working at the dairy has given me first-hand experience of the real cost of running a small business.”
Having been immersed in the Māngere community for so long, Vinesh decided his first solo photography exhibition would celebrate the town’s diversity and uniqueness. In his series How Much Does This Cost? he mixes photographs and video to showcase what small business owners bring to Māngere. “It shows the stories and personalities of each business owner and highlights what Māngere Town Centre is today. It’s a chance to celebrate the contribution a small business owner gives for the benefit of the wider community.”
Photographer Todd Henry titled his recent portrait series Fofonga ‘oe kau fakafoki. If you don’t speak Tongan, this translates into English as “the faces of those who have returned”. The series documents people of Tongan heritage who have been deported from either the USA, New Zealand, or Australia and sent back to Tonga. All of the people in Todd’s series were born in Tonga, but most have been raised overseas away from the Tongan culture, and have been sent back with virtually no knowledge of the way of life or language. “It’s a strange and interesting concept because according to ethnicity and nationality they are Tongan, but culturally they are American, Kiwi, or Australian. But they can never go back to those places that they once called home,” Todd explains.
The concept of receiving good fortune and opportunities from the universe and ensuring you give back is something that many people hold near and dear. It’s all about reciprocity and maintaining the balance. A few years ago, photographer Giora Dan had this thought in mind when he decided to give back to the universe by donating his time and skills to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and aid organisations working in deprived areas outside New Zealand. “I wanted my images and videos to help make people’s life better. The reason to aim at overseas deprived areas is that these country have no social support framework like here in New Zealand. Also, most of these countries suffer from deep and chronic corruption that stifles any help that comes from governmental institutes,” Giora explains.
Barkers — the well-known New Zealand men’s clothing label — recently went through a bit of a rebrand, and behind the camera creating imagery for this high-profile assignment was Auckland based commercial photographer Reagen Butler. The latest campaign shoot called for a full spectrum of scenery and activities to be documented. The aim was to illustrate that Barkers’ clothing is “Made For Life” — a declaration of the brand’s intent to create garments that are sustainable, long-lasting, and functional.
Reagen has been working with Barkers for four years, producing both stills and motion. So when this particular opportunity came about he was once again brought to the table. This time around Reagen was asked to shoot the stills, while an agency was brought in to work on the video components. “The shoot was pretty flexible, with some guidance on the stills from the agency that worked on the motion piece. It was all pretty fly on the wall lifestyle stuff as we trekked around Auckland and Queenstown,” Reagen says.
Bringing something from the movies into our real lives, Tuki Huck launched his business, FREEZETiME in June 2018. FREEZETiME is a large self-service photo booth that takes a series of images simultaneously using twenty Sony RX0 cameras. The outcome is a wicked video showing the subject from different angles — something described as the bullet-time effect. “The bullet-time effect has been around for a while, and initially it was mainly used on movie sets and at high-profile events (like the red carpet). I thought that it would be a good idea if everyone could have access to this unique visual effect,” Tuki explains.