Meet ’the Hob­bit guy’

Matamata Chronicle - - Conversations - SIOBHAN DOWNES

There is only one of­fi­cial Hob­biton pho­tog­ra­pher in the world, and that ti­tle be­longs to Shaun Jef­fers, who moved to New Zealand from Liver­pool, Eng­land, three years ago.

Jef­fers, 26, ad­mits he has been ‘‘ob­sessed’’ with The Lord of the Rings from a young age.

His love of Peter Jack­son’s movies in­spired him to study film pro­duc­tion at univer­sity, but he soon re­alised he was more in­ter­ested in still photography.

So he worked as an event and PR pho­tog­ra­pher in Liver­pool be­fore de­cid­ing to come to New Zealand to ex­pe­ri­ence the fa­mous Mid­dle-earth scenery.

Be­fore he left, he emailed Hob­biton, and ar­ranged to go there one morn­ing at sun­rise to take some pho­to­graphs.

They liked his pic­tures so much that they’ve been us­ing them ever since, in brochures, on their web­site, and on so­cial me­dia.

Jef­fers, who is based in Auck­land, now heads to Hob­biton ev­ery six weeks, cap­tur­ing the vil­lage from ev­ery an­gle – through dif­fer­ent sea­sons and events.

‘‘Ev­ery time I go there it’s to­tally dif­fer­ent,’’ Jef­fers says.

‘‘Be­cause I’ve shot it so many times, ev­ery­one al­ways says to me, ‘do you not get bored of it?’ I can’t say I ever do.’’

As well as Hob­biton, Jef­fers works with other tourism op­er­a­tors around the coun­try, such as Te Puia in Ro­torua, and Dis­cover Wait­omo.

One of his favourite places to shoot was the Wait­omo Glow­worm Caves, which in­volved sub­merg­ing him­self and his tri­pod in cold wa­ter for up to eight hours a day.

‘‘It’s sur­real go­ing down there, chest-deep in wa­ter, freez­ing cold. Then your eyes ad­just and you can see them [the glow­worms].

‘‘It’s like, wow, this is un­be­liev­able.’’

Jef­fers has a fol­low­ing of more than 66,000 fans on In­sta­gram, where his Mid­dleearth posts have landed him the nick­name ‘‘the Hob­bit guy’’.

‘‘I love go­ing to work ev­ery­day,’’ he says.

‘‘Long be­fore I was a pho­tog­ra­pher, I re­ally wanted to go and see New Zealand. ‘‘It’s sort of come full cir­cle.’’ To view more of Shaun’s photos visit shaunj­ef­fer­spho­tog­ra­

A pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher with a pas­sion for The Lord of the Rings.

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