Tawa pho­tog­ra­pher’s ‘ex­pe­ri­ence of a life­time’

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - KRIS DANDO

It started off as a study pro­ject but be­came a life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for Kathryn Ar­mitage.

As part of her stud­ies last year at The Photo School in Rau­mati, the Tawa res­i­dent de­cided on a com­mu­nity-based pro­ject.

She de­cided to in­ter­view and pho­to­graph about 10 mem­bers of the les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual, trans­gen­der, in­ter­sex and ques­tion­ing com­mu­nity, but it quickly be­came ob­vi­ous it was not go­ing to be a small-scale pro­ject.

In the end, she pho­tographed 37 peo­ple, each snapped in black and white and colour. The black and white shots are of the dayto-day liv­ing and work­ing side of each per­son, and the colour pho­to­graphs show off their per­son­al­i­ties in the les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual, trans­gen­der, in­ter­sex and ques­tion­ing world.

Ar­mitage said it chal­lenged one of her fears, which was to ap­proach strangers and start talk­ing.

‘‘This pro­ject was some­thing that just grew and I put a lot of love into it,’’ she said.

‘‘I ap­proached peo­ple at events [like Out in the Park] and even on the street and they opened their lives to me. It was in­cred­i­ble and I’m grate­ful to be able to do some­thing to help break down those bar­ri­ers and help the con­ver­sa­tion that’s go­ing on about so­cial ac­cep­tance.’’

Each per­son was happy to be snapped in the en­vi­ron­ment they are most com­fort­able in, show­ing off their per­son­al­i­ties, and Ar­mitage used nat­u­ral light and no com­puter ma­nip­u­la­tion af­ter­wards.

‘‘It [the pro­ject] never felt fin­ished and it be­came some­thing that re­ally dom­i­nated my life, in a good way. I feel priv­i­leged to help share their sto­ries and it opened my eyes to the re­silience of hu­man be­ings.’’

Ar­mitage fundraised to get prints made and a su­perb book, Out of the Box, pub­lished. The ex­hi­bi­tion to ac­com­pany the book runs at This­tle Hall in Welling­ton from March 9 till 12.

Her hard­est de­ci­sion was to choose the 40 im­ages to hang in the ex­hi­bi­tion. ‘‘It was one of the most chal­leng­ing parts of the whole pro­ject.’’

Ar­mitage said she had been in­ter­ested in pho­tog­ra­phy from a young age, but put it on the back­burner while her daugh­ter was grow­ing up.

PHOTO: KRIS DANDO

Kathryn Ar­mitage can’t wait for her ex­hi­bi­tion, Out of the Box, to open next month.

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