Neigh­bours caught on cam­era

I’d re­ally like people to be cu­ri­ous about who their neigh­bours are and how they might con­nect with them as well.

Central Leader - - NEWS - By KA­RINA ABA­DIA

Me­lanie Tollemache got her first cam­era when she was 10 and she’s been hooked ever since.

‘‘When I was a teenager I used to take over one of the bath­rooms at home to process my films. I loved the magic of the dark­room,’’ she says.

But the 49-year-old didn’t pur­sue the hobby se­ri­ously un­til about four years ago when she took a break from her commercial law ca­reer to spend a year re­train­ing as a pho­tog­ra­pher.

She has gone back to work­ing part-time as a lawyer while keep­ing up the pho­tog­ra­phy.

The mother-of-two

is putting on her first solo ex­hi­bi­tion The Lo­cals at Frasers Cafe as part of the Auck­land Fes­ti­val of Pho­tog­ra­phy.

It fea­tures 10 por­traits of people who, like her, live near Eden Park.

Tollemache was a Mt Eden vil­lage res­i­dent for about 15 years and only moved closer to the park about four years ago. Her sub­jects in­clude an anaes­thetist, a com­poser, a re­tired per­son, a pic­ture­hanger and a fer­til­ity nurse.

Some of the people she ap­proached were al­ready friends, oth­ers she’d seen in a cafe or on the street and just started chat­ting with them.

The ex­pe­ri­ence has been won­der­ful, Tollemache says.

‘‘It was a pho­to­graphic project but also one which al­lowed me to get to know my neigh­bours. There are all these fas­ci­nat­ing people in our midst. It’s just about that idea of paus­ing and tak­ing the time to see who’s right there.’’

The project quickly took on a life of its own.

‘‘Once I’d pho­tographed people then they’d say: ‘ Oh you should speak to such and such, they’re a re­ally amaz­ing per­son in the neigh­bour­hood’.’’

The up­com­ing ex­hi­bi­tion is a fo­cal point for her but Tollemache plans to make it an on­go­ing project.

She is hope­ful the ex­hi­bi­tion will in­spire a chain re­ac­tion.

‘‘I’d re­ally like people to be cu­ri­ous about who their neigh­bours are and how they might con­nect with them as well.’’

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