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.
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.
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.
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.
Jay French has always been into the outdoors, and enjoys activities like hiking, biking, and snowboarding. After returning to New Zealand from living in London for a while, he started photographing at events and on trips that he went on.
“One day someone asked to buy one of my images. The next they were asking me to go and cover an event. Next thing I knew, my whole business model had changed to content creation! I’ve been a full-time pro-shooter for about three years now.”
After facing a challenging few months, Hamish Melville wanted to try and channel some of the emotions he had faced over that time into a new body of work. His aim was to create a fashion editorial that felt very intimate and unpretentious. What you’re seeing here is the end result.