Photographers urban project
‘‘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.