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.
Bringing out the hero in everyday people is something Scott McAulay always aims for in his photography. Whether he’s photographing his family and friends, or small business owners and television personalities, his end goal is the same: to capture the hero in everyone. So when the opportunity to photograph TVNZ’s Survivor NZ contestants came along, it was a perfect fit.
“My passion for photography stems from photographing real people in their environment and making them look a bit heroic. Survivor puts real people into harsh, volatile environments and follows them as they make their way through numerous social, mental, and physical challenges,” Scott explains.
Looking like they’ve jumped right out of a fairytale, Maegan McDowell’s recent beauty shoot creations are striking, captivating, and incredibly unique. Utilising flowers, insects , and metallic and bright tones, she brings to life a delightfully eclectic series of images. “I had been looking at ways to incorporate more colour and interest into your standard beauty shoot, and the idea of using insects has been on my list of things to shoot for awhile,” Maegan explains of the unusual concept.
Born and raised in the UK, commercial photographer Lee Howell spent several years travelling the world as a Formula One mechanic before moving to New Zealand in 2006 and swapping his spanners for a camera. Not surprisingly, Lee began his photographic career shooting motorsport, but he quickly developed his skillset and is now best known for his stunning portrait work. He has a knack for capturing natural and engaging images of people, and this has helped Lee attract a wide range of top commercial clients.
Late last year Lee landed a plum assignment for well-known outdoor clothing brand Kathmandu. The job involved travelling to New York City in January to create images for the latest Kathmandu winter campaign.