Pho­tog­ra­phers urban project

Central Leader - - SITUATIONS VACANT - HUGH COLLINS

‘‘I can shoot in stu­dio but I pre­fer telling sto­ries re­ally, that's the thing, meet­ing th­ese peo­ple and hear­ing their story and also be­ing able to tell it, it's very cool.’’

For Lee Howell, pho­tograph­ing peo­ple is about com­ing out of his com­fort zone.

The free­lance pho­tog­ra­pher is the brains be­hind the Kingsland Project, a main street open-air exhibition of work doc­u­ment­ing the faces and at­mos­phere of the vi­brant Auck­land sub­urb.

Howell says it started when he was tak­ing shots of peo­ple in the Port­land Pub­lic House bar for photos he needed for a com­mer­cial job.

‘‘I sort of walked away from that think­ing, oh th­ese are quite cool … there’s a lot of value in per­sonal work.’’

It dawned on Howell that he could go for a cof­fee in the af­ter­noon with his cam­era and spot in­ter­est­ing peo­ple or things.

But half the bat­tle has been ap­proach­ing strangers, he says.

‘‘I hate ... just go­ing up and ask­ing, so for me as a per­sonal chal­lenge it’s been re­ally good, go­ing up to peo­ple and say­ing ‘look, do you mind if I take your photo?’.

‘‘That’s pushed me from that point of view which has been good.’’

Orig­i­nally from Stafford­shire in the United King­dom, Howell was in­spired to buy a cam­era in 2002 af­ter see­ing his broth­ers’ travel photos. Af­ter spend­ing years as a For­mula One race me­chanic for Ar­rows For­mula 1 and Lo­tus Re­nault GP, Howell moved to Christchurch in 2006 and took his self-taught pho­tog­ra­phy from a hobby to a busi­ness. ’’I can shoot in stu­dio but I pre­fer telling sto­ries re­ally, that’s the thing, meet­ing th­ese peo­ple and hear­ing their story and also be­ing able to tell it, it’s very cool.

‘‘It’s a li­cense to delve into peo­ple’s lives ac­tu­ally.’’

The Kingsland Project launches on Septem­ber 29 and runs for four days. Shop fronts in Kingsland vil­lage will be con­verted into a street side art gallery with prints hang­ing from shop ve­ran­das. One hun­dred images will also be on dis­play in a new exhibition space at 502 New North Road. The exhibition launch will co­in­cide with a Kingsland Flavours street food event where cafes and restau­rants will be of­fer­ing tast­ing plates of sig­na­ture dishes from $5.

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