Golden Hour is the time of the day when the sun sets and rises. Something I picked up in film school while discovering a passion for cinematography; if the sun is present its light appears more reddish. At the time I was also playing with using the flash during daylight for effect. So I got Whitney and Luke to go experiment. I love working with these two!
Rangitoto is Māori for ‘Bloody Sky’, with the name coming from the full phrase Ngā Rangi-i-totongia-a Tama-te-kapua (“The days of the bleeding of Tama-te-kapua”). Tama-te-kapua was the captain of the Arawawaka (canoe) and was badly wounded on the island, after having lost a battle with the Tainui iwi (tribe) at Islington Bay.
Because Whit grew up on the Shore, she helped pick the location but I also feel it’s a bit serendipitous that I set out to capture ‘Golden Hour’ which refers to the redness of sunlight featured at dawn and dusk – then ended up shooting at a location that means ‘Bloody Sky’ without knowing at the time…
I shot this on a Canon 550D that I bought for $600 from Cash Converters in Hamilton. At the time I was lacking confidence as a photographer, but also using the flash and aiming to publish photos in colour – it was all new and intimidating. There are shots from this shoot I wish I could use but there are small things I missed when shooting which make them almost, but not quite shots. One example is nailing a good moment of one model and forgetting to check the others’ facials. Reflecting on this shoot I realised I needed to slow down and pick my moments more carefully.. I also think I’d need a stronger lens that can handle focusing on subjects better so they’re sharper in the distance whilst including the background/wide shot.
I like that both models are chill/gentle humans, I think that translates through the shots. I like the contrast of branded streetwear in something organic like the ocean, just not sure exactly why yet..possibly got to do with the deconstruction of what you’d expect? In the shot below I love that the sun is shining over Rangitoto like a spotlight and the flash is what illuminates the models in the foreground. There’s something that feels really classic about this composition to me and, with a better camera, I would like to do it again properly.
Whitney also styled the shoot. Check out her Instagram of one off pre-loved pieces HERE.
In this T H R E A D S shoot I linked up with Sian Kolose who, at the time, had her online shopping mecca Hunting Ground Store still in incubation with her sister Tina Kolose. For this shoot, we put together a list of the dopest models we could source, then set about shooting them. I realised while putting this portfolio together just how busy we got – 16 models, two days, one make up artist, two cameras, one stylist (Sian), one photographer (me) and K’RD.
Models included Luke Collins, Maia Te Hira, Anny Ma, Suha Wahab and Sarah Hindley, Max Robinson and Tina Kolose. Blaze the Emperor, Bryson Naik, Tony Douglas, Blu, Shajal Singh, Tashi Levitt, Arlena Teiho, Leah Pao, Bheilee Okesene, Felicity Aroa.
Working with Sian was a really fun experience, I particularly enjoyed the collaborative freedom I had when working with her. Two examples are getting Tina to hop into the trolley as well as contrasting Tashi’s white satin skirt with the dirt from the car park; also the darker tone of the material soaking up the fresh water (it had just rained) from the puddle. (BELOW). Being my first shoot of this scale, working with Sian gave me the confidence to try new ideas out.
Recyclable fashion is a good way to combat the humongous waste issue that human kind face remedying today. Having the skills to re-work an old garment and make it new, or the eye for how to pick a garment and make it seem new is an ever-growing/required skill and, as we continue to throw material into the earth – like we don’t understand some materials like Nylon take around 20 years to breakdown- we must incorporate reusable fashion into our basic shopping vocabulary. ** Disclaimer** to the Salvation Army in Glenn Eden – this does NOT excuse you charging 70$ for a shirt someone dropped off while throwing away rubbish and other household goods, then telling customers on a low budget ‘well that’s what it costs in Ponsonby’. Just saying… Not really I mean it… Please stop dousing the thrill of op-shopping with your inflation excuses!
This year, Rihanna did a shoot for Garage Mag, shot by photographer Deana Lawson who specialises in taking photos of subjects in their home, in what she describes as ‘their domestic space’. Shajal (BELOW) used to flat above the shoot location – Hero Sandwich House – in Auckland so was certainly in her natural space. I would like to explore these themes more in future work – especially in domestic settings.
Movement is another aspect I noticed when reflecting on this shoot, these models had their stance on-point and I also liked to encourage the energy and sense of action with my angles. (Shout outs Blaze The Emperor).
Tony Douglas is someone whose style I noticed after moving home from Perth in 2011, he was DJing at an underground bar in Wellington as one half of Calm The Fuck Down aka CTFD. During this shoot, a film and photography guru himself, he taught me to set the meters properly on my external flash. (Blush face emoji).
Joan Smalls took part in this interview with the Business of Fashion addressing diversity and inclusivity last year. She said “It’s interesting because of my background I come from an interracial family and my household has every different shade and in my world I’ve always seen it as inclusive so coming to New York and making a career modelling they reminded me ‘what we see you as’ not who I identified with”. I think as women of colour, Sian and I brought that sense of diversity within the world we see to the shoot; it’s something that I feel proud of upon completing the project.
Cultural diversity in mainstream media and the importance of seeing one’s self reflected on TV and billboards is an agenda in my work that I hold dear. Growing up as an ‘other’ in New Zealand, it was very earlier on in my exploration of myself, then my work as an extension of myself, that I have consistently focused on culture and identity. Juxtaposing the confronting and contradicting elements that happen when east meets west in my compositions is something I will continue to do. There have been movements and collectives in Auckland like Milkshake Models, Dynasty, FAF SWAG and photographers like Imogen Wilson who have also pushed identity boundaries – I’m only excited to see what the future brings for Kiwi creatives and brown children who can see themselves positively and accurately reflected in the media.
Mercury Plaza is definitely a popular Auckland location for food and photos. The food court there is due to close, but I hope it reopens/moves somewhere else cause for me – South East Asian food is what helps me hold on to small pieces of Malaysia and remedies the sense of feeling homesick all in one $10 meal!
There are more shots from this shoot on Instagram.
Rapper Meer is a young woman living in Australasia. Having just moved to Sydney from Auckland to be with the love of her life she says she appreciates a man who respects a woman going after her potential. “I want to make a mark as an Arab woman – I want people to know what an Arab is. I want Middle Eastern to be a part of the selection when you choose where you’re from,” she says. Born in Dubai, she came to New Zealand when she was five years old. Having always used writing as an important outlet, especially when it comes to her mental health and positive well being, she says eventually making a rap song became an obvious choice. “The first time I went up on that stage I couldn’t explain it, it was something magical, that feeling I got, I couldn’t get anywhere else and I was addicted.”
Although her lyrical content can get quite heavy theme-wise she says “I want people to scream my name on that stage I want people to know my lyrics, I want to touch people in ways that they have never..that sounds weird…I want to affect people emotionally through my music, in ways they’ve never been before.”
‘You messing with a bad bitch’ goes the hook of her most recent video release Pomegranate. But, she says “I’m not really an intense person – I’m such a kid – the person you see on stage is someone who feels powerful and wants to prove it but the person I am when I get off stage is powerful and I don’t have to prove it. Even though there’s a lot of intense content, people might think it’s too much.. Do you think?”
Sara Coe is one of my oldest friends and was right there in high school when I said I was going to have my own magazine one day. As I build WDYFILWHH we bring you a taste of her work, life, travels. From Wellington, NZ; Sara is living and working in Japan. Here are some shots of the visual-story she’s piecing together, showcasing her experience:
SARA: I wouldn’t call myself a photographer I’m horrible with photoshop and lack the discipline of true photographers who work hard at their craft. But I am human being who likes to tell stories through her photos. I like capturing moments. Moments you can’t recreate. And this quote from one of my favorite Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama sums up how I feel about my photography:
“For me, photography is not a means by which to create beautiful art, but a unique way of encountering genuine reality.”
She also has her own blog where you can follow her photography and travels HERE. Check out some of her life-shots below.