Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Kia ora! I’m a 21 year old photographer based in central Auckland. I spend my Sunday to Thursdays folding tees to pay the bills, and in my spare time I try to strike a good balance of doing my creative mahi, and just enjoying and experiencing life as much as one can in today’s world. Outside of photography I’m really interested in movies, music, making and eating yummy kai and spending time with loved ones.
How did your love of photography come about?
I started taking photos when I was 16. At the time a couple of my friends had some little point and shoots that they’d bring on our adventures and it honestly just looked like a bit of fun to me. I knew my mum had an old film camera from when she was my age (A yashica fx3-2000 SLR) so I asked her if I could borrow it, and I just started snapping away. At the time I was really into filmmaking and I thought that’s what I wanted to do with my life so I saw photography as kind of practice with working within a frame and capturing moments. It was a simpler time. I had a rough idea of the technical side of things from my interest in filmmaking, and I’d shoot everything landscape trying to emulate the look of my favourite movies. I bought whatever the cheapest film was, and the lightmeter in the camera didn’t work so I would just guess my exposures. Looking back now I’m glad it happened in such an organic way. I learned to love the process of taking photos for the fun of it, years before I had any interest in being a “photographer” and turning it into something more than a hobby. It’s a mindset I’m trying to get back into more these days.
What do you document and why are you attracted to those scenes?
I kind of just document my existence at the moment. From my friends, to the environments I move through and grow in, I’m really interested in people and how we all individually make our way through this whole life thing. I’ve always been obsessed with finding a sense of home and figuring out my place in the endless void of the universe, and I think my photography reflects that searching. What and when I choose to shoot is honestly pretty random and chaotic, but so is life, and photography is such an abstract way of communicating I think it works really well at capturing the inexplicableness of everything and expressing those thoughts and feelings that I couldn’t put into words otherwise. As far as what actually attracts me to something enough to press the shutter, it’s quite an instinctual thing for me. An instinct that I’m constantly building upon every day by going out and shooting, looking over old work and other people’s work that inspires me, consuming other forms of media and again just living my life and learning more about the world and myself. I just try my best to stay observant and look out for things that stand out or feel special to me, sometimes on purpose and sometimes it’s just luck.
How do you find motivation to continue to go out and pursue your creative endeavours?
Sometimes it’s super easy and other times I overthink everything and want to give it all up and move to a farm somewhere. Motivation definitely comes and goes in waves with me, like it does with most people I’d think, and it can be really hard doing my creative mahi after a week of working my boring job, but I think if you really care about doing something, you’re always going to find a way. The other side to it is that life is meant to be lived. Sometimes I just want to hang with my friends or play my playstation and watch movies with my girl, and that’s okay. It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you need to keep up with everyone on social media and constantly be producing “content” for people to double tap and forget about 6 seconds later, but I just think that’s such a backwards, unhealthy way of looking at art. These days I’m really focused on shooting just for the fun of it or working towards creating something that really matters to me and will hopefully stand the test of time.
What advice would you give to any other aspiring photographers?
It might sound like a cop out answer, but just go out and shoot! There’s no secret sauce that’s going to help you start taking better pictures, you just have to go out and do it. The more you shoot the better your instincts get which lead to better pictures. You’ll figure out what doesn’t work so you can start focusing more on what does. Just get whatever camera you can get your hands on and master it, so when you have an idea, you know how to execute it. On that note as well, don’t stress too much about gear, there’s always going to be a better camera. Fully embrace whatever you’re using and if it has some limitations, I personally think that’s a good thing, it makes you more clever. Most importantly, just have fun with it! There’s nothing like that feeling of going through a roll you just got back from the lab, enjoy the process.
What is your current camera setup and favourite film?
My go to for about 2 years now has been my Pentax 67 with the legendary 105mm. I got pretty hooked on medium format and didn’t want to shoot anything else for a while, but I’ve recently gotten back into 35mm and got a good deal on a Contax G1 with the 45mm, so I’m looking forward to learning that system more. As far as film goes I’m a Portra 400 boy through and through. I’ve recently started rating it at 320 as well and I’m loving the results, would definitely recommend. I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Cinestill 800t as well, especially on 35mm. I really love how it renders blues.
Are there artists you look up to or admire?
There’s just so many, and I feel like I’m constantly finding new people with amazing work, but some of the people who have made a big impact on me or are consistently making work that I really love would be Rinko Kawauchi, the late Ren Hang, Daniel Arnold, Cian Oba Smith, Alec Soth, Charlotte Patmore, Tyler Mitchell, Todd Hido, Christian Lanza, Grade Solomon, George Muncey, Aria Shahrokhshahi, Sergey Neamoscou, Alondra Buccio, Tenny Rudolph, Samuel Dumont-Lévesque, Carlos Ramos, Dylan Peterson, Erik Saevi and Collyn Lackey.
There’s so many crazy talented people from right here in Aotearoa putting out great work as well. I’m a big fan of the people involved with the Carwash Photo Group and Raroboys. Finn Bowman, Imogen Wilson, Jaycee Mentoor, Pati Tyrell, Matt Hurley, Synthia Bahati, Connor Lambert, Tak Soropa, Luca Macioce and your guys very own Nicole Brannen. I could obviously go on and on but I already feel like I’ve written too much so I’ll leave it at that. Definitely go check them all out!
Do you have any projects coming up in mind or something you are working on?
Nothing concrete at the moment, but I’m at the stage where I’m really starting to try hone in on what I’m shooting and start building a larger body of work. I have a rough idea of the direction I want to be going in, so it’s just a matter of starting before I talk myself out of it. The end goal definitely being a book or something along those lines. I’m really interested in how sequencing can create something larger than the photos themselves but I want to make sure I have something worth saying in that format first. Hopefully it starts to come together soon enough.
Where do you see yourself in 5 – 10 years time with your photography work?
Hopefully I’m less shy with my photography. I want to start working a lot more with other people and doing long term projects to tell their stories through my lens in a more pure documentary, portraiture style. I just want to be working a bit more simply and hopefully not overthinking things so much. Documenting more of the local music scene that I love so much and all the wonderful artists we have in our country would also be really cool. Maybe a bit of travel with my photos too.
Where can we view more and keep up to date with your photography?
You can find me on that scary instagram app under the username @ngaru_ – look out for my big head. Hopefully a website sometime soon as well but that’s tbc.