What first sparked your interest in photography?
I started when I was around 10 when my parents gave me my first point and shoot camera. I remember getting completely hooked trying to get the perfect shot of this flower.
My parents eventually got me my first DSLR a few years later and naturally being a kid, I got bored of it and moved on to something else.
It sort of re-sparked as soon as I started high school and I started to get a bit more into it again. In early 2013, I was one of the winners of the Te Tuhi Youth Art Award
which sort of got me more into the art scene. It made me want to expand myself as an artist, so I have to say that winning that award gave me the confidence and drive to continue and pursue photography.
What was your first project?
When I started my page Segmented (formerly known as Street Segments), I started off with a project called “Don’t Talk To Strangers”.
It was essentially a Humans of New York type of thing: I would go up to a stranger and take their photo, then I would ask them “If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?”.
I eventually stopped doing it because I realised that I wanted to do my own thing. I think that doing this project helped me gain the confidence I needed to get better in street photography and just photography in general. As a photographer, I feel that you need to show your subject that you know exactly what you are doing (even if you don’t).
It’s sort of like gaining trust or something like that.
Why do you use both film and digital photography?
Although shooting digital is fast, convenient and you can basically do anything in post processing, its nice to slow down sometimes and just enjoy your time instead of concentrating on getting the perfect shot. I feel that film does exactly this. You’re not spending all your time staring at an LCD screen but instead you are just enjoying the moment that you are in and capturing it in the simplest way. There is definitely an unspoken beauty about that. Along with that, the aesthetic that different cameras and films bring to the photos are unlike anything that digital can achieve. The colours, tones and grain is what make film photos so unique.
Of course there are times where you just need the shot, no mucking around. This is when shooting digital comes in. Its reliable, fast, and you know what your photos are going to look like instantly instead of having to wait for it to get developed which allows more room for trial and error.
What is it about the street that made you want to photograph it?
Its not static, its always changing. There are always new places to discover and new people to meet.
Are there any interesting stories you could share from taking photos on the street?
I was walking through Myers Park with this big, chunky, Polaroid pack film camera one day and was stopped by this man wearing a bandanna over his face and wielding a knife.
For some reason, I went over to him despite the fact that he had the potential to stab me and run off with my stuff. He simply stopped to compliment my Polaroid camera and how much he appreciates photography. He later introduced himself as bullet along with his partner, Crystal. After sitting down, talking to them for a bit and explaining to them what it is I do, he asked If I could take their photo. When the photo developed, his reaction was amazing. I decided to take another photo and let them keep one of the copies.
Bullet was enormously grateful and said thank you about a million times and told me that he would keep it forever.
On the surface, they looked quite intimidating but in reality, they were some of the most respectful people I have ever met.
After the photograph was taken, Bullet and I engaged in a Hongi as a sign of respect and parted ways.
Has there ever been anything on the street that you have seen, and wished you’d captured but didn’t?
Definitely. This has happened to me a lot of times, I think I’ve lost count haha. Mostly because I didn’t have a camera on me at the time. I study at MIT in Otara, South Auckland and it has some of the most colourful characters I have seen from cross dressers to gang members. The great part is that they are all intertwined and connected as a community, they all live and work with each other which is something that I like about South Auckland. I haven’t had the chance to photograph in South Auckland mainly due to being a bit scared and not knowing how people there will react on having their photograph taken but as I’ve experience before, I shouldn’t be quick to judge and just go for it.
Has your background influenced your photography?
To be honest, no. There isn’t really much connection between my personal life/background with my photography. What I aim to do with my photographs is to let it connect to other people rather than to myself.
What would you say to an aspiring photographer?
Have confidence in yourself and the work you produce, be proud of what you make no matter what other people think about it. You shouldn’t even care what other people think about your work.
If you like it and its up to YOUR standard, then you have created something awesome.
What photographer/s do you look up too yourself?
I get a lot of my inspiration from zines and independent/less-well known photographers. Photographers from Nighted Zines, Monster Children, and Vice are all pretty rad.
I don’t really have a specific favourite which is why I always have trouble whenever someone asks me this haha.
In Auckland, where’s your favourite place to grab a coffee?
This is a tough one…It would probably be a tie between Shakey Isles in Britomart or Alleluya at St. Kevins Arcade, off K’Road. Both these joints make top notch coffee.