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.
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.
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.’’