Press Photographer and Photojournalist

Posts tagged “Documentary

Kink – Exhibition

Recently I had a photo exhibition at Melbourne’s Brunswick Street Gallery which finished this week. Two weeks fly by pretty quickly.  This exhibition is a series of portraits of Wellington’s Kink (BDSM) community that I have been working on for over four years. For stylistic purposes, I chose to shoot this subject matter using constructed portraits and to emulate a cinematic lighting style. This project has been quite a labour of love: as well as spending many hours crafting each individual portrait – including multiple interviews with subjects, location scouting, testing lighting set ups, finding props and roping-in random helpers –  I also raised the $2500 exhibition costs through a crowd-funding campaign, along with arranging for the printing, and packaging and shipping of the finished works to Melbourne.

When I arrived at the gallery two weeks ago, I was worried that the images would not fit well in the space. I had printed the images double the size I originally planned for (good thing too as they looked great as A2 prints) and I thought they would be a bit squished in the small space. Melbourne is a long jump over the Tasman from Wellington, so there was no way I could visit the exhibition space beforehand to see how the images would fit. However using my well-honed Blue Peter skills and rummaging through the recycling for a couple of cereal boxes, I managed to craft a scale model of the exhibition space, and quickly found the best layout for the images.

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The evening I arrived in Melbourne, after having only three hours sleep the previous night, my curating and hanging skills were a little uncoordinated! Only the next morning, once the images were equally spaced and securely fixed to the wall (thanks to a little  a lot of help from one of the gallery elves) was I relieved to see that they actually looked pretty darn good (and not too squished).

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Come the afternoon of the big exhibition opening, as I was preparing the finishing touches to the exhibition space, I was starting to get a little nervous about how the subject matter might be received.

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And finally, after a quick clean and polish, things were looking rock steady…

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It was a huge relief to see people spending time in the space and reading the captions and information sheets that I had provided. It shows people took a real interest in the work and the story that was being told. It was also very uplifting getting feedback from visitors,  with one middle-aged lady thanking me for bringing this work to Melbourne and commenting “it was great to learn about a sub-culture that was so far outside of my realm of experience”. The value of this work was further reinforced by positive feedback the gallery curator had been receiving from visitors throughout the duration of the exhibition:

“I hope all is well! I just wanted to pass on that I have had an incredible amount of visitors express a great deal of gratitude for your exhibition. Our visitors have been learning, and feeling inspired. Your work invites a real personal experience and this has been really meaningful! It’s been exciting to receive all of the feedback.”

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With the success of this Melbourne exhibition, I’m still hopeful that I can exhibit this work in Wellington as soon as I’m able to find a gallery space that is willing to show this work.

OK. As you might have noticed by now, this is going to be a rather long blog post, so if you’ve read this far, the actual portrait project as it (for the most part) appeared in the gallery, is shown below:

My background in documentary and editorial photography informs my work as a photographer, and fuels my interest in using visual imagery to tell stories. Curious by nature, I often find myself drawn to subjects that sit outside of cultural norms, or that are socially or environmentally topical. As a photographer, I am driven to make a difference in the world in whatever small way I can, and producing visual stories to provide a platform for discussion and engagement is one way in which I can do this. If people see my images and it has a positive impact on them, or provokes a response, or makes them think, then I believe I have succeeded as a photographer.

BDSM is often perceived as a deviant sexual practice, bordering on pornography. This work is an attempt to defy stereotypes, to show the diversity of individuals that make up the Kink community, and the benefits these practices can bring. Ultimately it is an affirmation of the diversity of sexuality and human relationships. The portraits shown below are a collaboration, and have taken many hours to construct. The exhibition of these images was designed to be the endpoint of this project (and this is the first time that they have been shown on the web).

As the Kink/BDSM community is rife with its own language and terminology, I have include a BDSM Glossary and an Introduction which is intended to be read with the image captions, to understand the accompanying story.

(Anonymous)

BDSM roles: Sub

Into: Sensation play – touch and sensations, scratching, fingernails, biting, temperature play (ice)

Describes herself as: Introvert, perfectionist, writer, feminist.

 

“Sexuality in contemporary society can be very confronting and repressed. In the kink community, you are naked. This is everything you represent, accept me as I am, warts and all”.

“Normal social boundaries do not exist in the Kink [BDSM] scene. Breaking these social norms in a community that is supportive and accepting is hugely freeing. The idea of giving up control to another is liberating and simultaneously empowering. You need to be a strong-willed individual to hand over control to someone else”.

Collar: the collar is a very important symbol in the Kink community and there are protocols on it’s meaning and display: it can represent the binding of two partners together; the Sub and the Dom; the Slave and the Master; or simply an artifact representing commitment and deep friendship between two partners within the kink community. It is also used indicate that a play sceneis about to start and that the ‘sub’ is partnered for the evenings play.

 

Nikoletta

BDSM Roles: Sub, dom, switch

Into: Masochism, impact play, bondage, shibari, kidnapping play.

Describes herself as: Positive, open-minded, happy, quirky.

 

“I love living a double life in an environment that is non-judgemental, safe, and positive, with trustworthy, open and honest people. It’s nice [being part of the Kink scene] to be surrounded by like-minded people”.

“Pain (see good pain) is a gateway to go through to cleanse the mind, you come out almost being reborn. The negative stresses of everyday life are released. You see things from a different perspective. All mental clutter is gone”.

“It’s about forgetting yourself. Forgetting that you have an ego, that you have thoughts or feelings, it’s almost a religious experience”.

 

Special thanks to SFX artist Sonia Edney for creating the FX work for this image.

 

Melancholiq

BDSM Roles: Sub, sadomasochist;

Into: Monogamy, edgeplay, needle play, sadism, masochism

Describes herself as: Secret geek, dabbler in many kinks but master of none.

 

A total of 152 sterile, fine-gauge hypodermic needles are inserted through Melancholiq’s skin. Pierced through rather than into the skin, the needles trigger the release of endorphins in response to the pain they create.

Needle play is becoming one of the most popular forms of BDSM play. A form of Edgeplay, needle play can be used as a form of self-expression, imitating tribal rituals for the purpose of spiritual self-discovery, or for sexual pleasure. As part of BDSM practice, needle play can produce an intense natural endorphin high which can last for hours and can induce orgasm in many of the people who experience it.

“The main attraction to [needle play] is the endorphin rush that I get from it. It is painful, but more or less so depending where the needles go in. Areas with more fat hurt less whereas areas where the needle accidentally hits muscle hurt a lot as muscles are particularly sensitive, and can cause intense pain. I try to keep them just under then skin”.

“What I also like is the challenge. I like to see if I can outdo myself from last time”.

 

Lexa and Damien

BDSM roles: Sub, dom, polyamory

Into: Impact play, bondage, wax play

Describes herself as: Over-thinker, caring, involved, sexy

Describes himself as: Hard working, adventurous, sexual, affectionate

 

“At a time in my life when work was very demanding and stressful, I found that the play scenes in the kink community were a good way to release the tension from my work life and to help relieve the anxiety which I have recently begun to experience”.

“We began exploring group play and this led to finding FetLife and the local kink community.   We began experimenting with flogging, chains, ropes and other types of restraints, plus sensation play such as using wax”.

“The sense of welcome that we felt from the community was great and it was a very safe place to explore and discover what we liked”.

“I am also polyamorous and have another male partner. The polyamorous side of my relationship I have had to learn how to manage with timing, communicating, emotional needs and also considering the impact this has on our son, aged four, with another man being involved in his life”.

“BDSM and being submissive really supports the management of my anxiety. By giving up control to one of my lovers completely and being restrained, I trust them to follow the preset boundaries and I don’t have to worry about being on top of everything. I can give myself up to the play”.

 

Duncan McQueen

BDSM Roles: Top

Into: Shibari, Flogging, Needle Play

Describes himself as: Kinkster who lives the life when I can

 

Duncan hangs from four large hooks temporarily pierced into his upper back, known in the trade as a suicide suspension. The hooks are attached to ropes strung through a rig. The fresh piercings bleed a little, but the rush of endorphins the brain produces in response numbs any pain, and under the guidance of fellow practitioners, Duncan is slowly and carefully lifted into the air. After the apprehension and the pain, comes an intense euphoria, a blissful state of being.

Skin suspension, a subset of the growing practice of body modification, has its roots in native traditions and tribal ceremonies – from the ancient Hindu festival Thaipusam, to the Mandan tribe on the banks of the Missouri River – and has been practiced for at least 5000 years.

Was this your first attempt at skin suspension and have you tried anything similar to this before?
“Yes, it was my first skin suspension. I had been suspended in rope before this, which I think is totally a different beast itself”.

What is it that interests or attracts you to perform skin suspension?
“Over the years, I have seen several suspensions around the kink scene in Wellington, my interest has grown over the years from “God that must hurt” to “Why?” to “Why do they look so peaceful and happy while they are suspended?”.

In the image, you look pretty blissed, can you describe your experience of skin suspension, the state of mind you experienced and what the practice/experience means to you?
“The endorphin rush was huge and I was up on a high for at least a couple of days.  I think some people would relate this as a spiritual experience . I found it to be an inward experience as your mind is saying your skin is not supposed to be doing this, but you know it will, so it is a bit of mind fuck.  Other than that all I remember was relaxing in to the slight discomfort at the time”.

Many of these body modification practices have their roots in ancient tribal cultures and customs, why do you think there’s a revival and growing interest in these experiences in modern day culture?
“I think the revival of these practice is a good thing, whether you are in it for the spiritual side or you do it as a rite of passage, as long as it is done safely with sterile equipment and all the other rigour that makes this a safe experience”.

“Why do I think there is a revival?  I think people are lost in the impersonal fast paced world and are searching to find themselves, not a bad way to centre you self, in my opinion”.



Diane Phillips

BDSM Roles: Sub, dom, switch, transgender

Into: Impact play, flogging, bondage, sensation play

Describes herself as: Exhibitionist, husband, father

 

Diane has felt the need to be a woman all of her life. As a woman, she becomes a different person. She feels more comfortable and more herself. Living a transgender existence has its emotional challenges as Diane is forced to live a dual life: loving husband and devoted father, while dabbling in her transgender identity when she is away from family and friends.

Diane tried to live a ‘normal’ life, but the expression of her feminine side was too hard to resist. The first few public outings as ‘Diane’ were terrifying but she felt compelled not to hide her true self. Websites like FetLife helped Diane to find a community of people who also felt trapped by their own gender. She soon realised that she was not alone and found the opportunity to meet people in the BDSM scene who were more open-minded and accepting, which enabled Diane to live out her dream of being the hostess of a dinner party, and to indulge in her family fantasies of cooking, cleaning, and shopping for other people.

“I’ve always felt this way, but I always knew that I had to hide it. I’ve known this since I was eight years old and it’s fundamental to my being. I can’t repress this forever”.

“As a woman, there are more clothes to choose from to express yourself. The colours make me feel so happy and alive”. “If you are constantly wearing the wrong clothes, it’s difficult to be yourself”.

“It’s not just dinner. Afterwards somebody gets tied-up or spanked, and everyone else watches. There’s lots of fun and laughter. There are no inhibitions and people are not afraid of their imperfect bodies”.

“What I’m looking for is acceptance, so I expect everybody else to be accepting”.

 

Chrissi

BDSM Roles: Switch

Into: Dressing up (high-heeled boots, corsets, leather, bondage gear), heavy impact play, sensation play.

Describes herself as: Vivacious, bookworm, bold, fun, alternative, exhibitionist, flamboyant, extrovert.

 

Whips, corsets and high-heeled PVC boots are some of the things Chrissi loves about being part of the kink scene. “Dressing up is all part of the fun”. Her first experience of BDSM and alternative lifestyles was from attending the ‘Southern Exposure’ conference in Christchurch in 2006.

“Something just clicked. I met all sorts of interesting twisted and kinky folk, and have never felt more open and comfortable with myself”.

After sleeping in bed with a dog lead attached to her ankle and having to ask permission to go to the toilet, Chrissi soon discovered that being submissive is not part of her personality.

“It was an interesting journey. We worked out that I have submissive qualities but I’m not a submissive person.” “The relationship didn’t work out too well. It was definitely a control thing (dominance/submission) for him. I learned a lot about myself though and met a lot of good friends along the way”.

Chrissi is a “switch” so is equally comfortable being tied up and beaten, or doing the tying and the beating. Roles between playing tops and bottoms change depending on play partners and their dynamic.

“It all comes down to the dynamic”.

“It can be very liberating having a group of friends where you don’t need to hold back on conversations and pushing boundaries and exploring limits”.

 “Your body is in a super-sensitive state for up to an hour after a play scene, like heavy impact flogging, so the endorphin rush, or subspace as it is known in the trade, puts you in an interesting place”.

 “The bruises are like a trophy or memento of the play”.

 

Bex

BDSM roles: Sub, bottom, switch.

Into: Shibari, bondage, sensation play, wax play, polyamory

Describes herself as: Mother, playful, cheeky, energetic.

 

Polyamory

Often abbreviated as ’poly’ in the kink scene, polyamory is the practice, desire or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship simultaneously, with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. With polyamorous relationships, the complexity of human relationships and dealing with the web of emotions can add significant challenges to poly relationships. Rules and boundaries are established for the multiple relationships to co-exist and function fluidly and each person in the relationship commits to values such as openness, acceptance, and honesty. Through the practicing of these values, powerful bonding may occur between the individuals in the poly relationships.

As Bex points out from her own experience, “polyamory requires a strict set of rules if the relationships are to flourish and each partner must establish their reasons and requirements for going into the relationship”. “It can be a balancing act, as strong emotions arise when dealing with human fears and desires. Strong feelings of attachment, jealousy and possessiveness can be confronting when they arise between different partners in poly relationships. However, by establishing rules at the beginning and committing to open and honest communications, can help keep these conflicting emotions in check”.

For Bex, joining the polyamorous community has taught her a lot about human relationships, and about how to overcome a whole swathe of complex emotions through spending long periods with multiple partners.

“I feel very capable of handling most problems life can throw at me because of the emotional maturity poly relationships can bring”. “Living together as a trio does require a big leap of faith. You have to put a lot of trust in each other. However, it can bring many benefits that a traditional, monogamous relationship doesn’t offer”.

 

Bex

Wax and Rope

In the Wellington kink scene, Bex mainly participates in wax play and Shibari. With wax play, the wax is applied by a play partner using burning candles to drip hot, liquid wax on different areas of the body, which produces a tolerable amount of pain. The sensations of the wax tingling the skin vary as the wax is applied more liberally, producing a hypersensitive state known as subspace, as the sensations gradually build upon one another.

Practitioners of modern Shibari rope play create intricate geometric patterns and shapes designed to flow with the body’s natural curves. The rope placements can also create physiological experiences known as “subspace” and “topspace”, an effect similar to runners high.

“Being tied up during rope play can release a flood of feelings of calmness and serenity”. “The restriction caused from being tied-up and made immobile creates an act of surrender, not of helplessness but of surrendering your control. You have to place great trust in the person performing the suspension”.

“Kink is such an open society that it allows people to have such self-experimental journeys of discovery in an accepting environment. It’s very liberating”.

“Being a part of the kink community is the most accepted I have ever felt because I can simply be myself. Everyone is so open-minded”.

 

Andy

BDSM roles: Sub, slave, bottom, sadomasochism, polyamory

Into: Pain and sensation play, sensory deprivation, heavy flogging, beating, whipping, rubber, bondage and breath control.

Describes himself as: veterinary surgeon, conservationist, sane, sexual extremist, queer, pervert.

 

“The feeling of being trapped, of being totally at the mercy of somebody else” is what partially attracts Andy to the BDSM scene.

“The clothes – such as tight leather, PVC, or a sleep sack (a piece of material used to totally enclose the whole body, and designed for sensory deprivation) – increases anticipation and excitement, the sensation of every touch is magnified”. “My imagination goes wild with excitement, when I’m deprived of my senses”.

An extreme sports enthusiast, Andy gets the mental highs he craves through adventure sports such as rock climbing, paragliding and motorcycling.

“These activities, while exciting, require your full attention. They are fully absorbing and mentally stimulating, and for the same reasons, this is what attracts me to the BDSM scene”.

The same rules apply. Pain turns into pleasure.

“I’m into safe fear. In BDSM, you have to be able to implicitly trust the top or master entirely. Play with a master provides a very safe pain (see good pain). This way I can get the sexual excitement I enjoy without any risk”.

“It’s a big trust thing. Completely giving over your control to someone else. Building this kind of trust with a master and being pushed to the limit of pain and pleasure”.

 

Tom and Jayne

BDSM Roles: Sub, dom, top, bottom

Into: Bondage, sensation play, wax play, flogging, polyamory.

Describes herself as (Jayne): Vanilla but experimenting.

Describes himself as: Partner, father, greeny, programmer, handyman friend.

 

In the language of BDSM, Tom is a Top, which is primarily about being in control and is someone who “gives” rather than “receives”. Tom likes hurting people who like to be hurt. Tom is polyamorous and has a relationship with his play partner, which is purely consensual, and sensation playflogging, scratching, whipping, wax play, and chains – is all part of the fun.

For Tom’s life partner Jayne, her journey into the world of Kink has been somewhat of a rollercoaster ride. Being ‘vanilla in BDSM parlance (a term denoting a person who has standard or conventional sexual behaviour), Jayne’s journey into the kink scene has been a baptism by fire.

To open a strong, loving, 16-year relationship to another sexual partner, to share the person who knows your most intimate thoughts and frailties, someone with whom you have entrusted your life, to another, takes great strength and courage. It was an emotional and psychological learning curve for Jayne, as she battled with feelings of jealousy, fear, insecurity, inadequacy, loss and low self-esteem.

To enter into a open, polyamorous relationship requires serious trust and commitment, the negotiation of boundaries within the relationships, and the development of a distinct set of values, such as truth, honesty, trust, respect, and open communication, with which to live by.

During this journey of self-discovery, Tom has been Jayne’s rock during this transition in their relationship: constant, calm and supportive. Their commitment to each other has grown, and together, with open minds and open hearts, they walk the rocky road into the unknown.

 

Tom and Clare

“I see my role as being Tom’s kink outlet and partner at BDSM events. Tom and Jayne have privately managed their own relationship and in fact have been careful not to involve me in their challenges. We agreed rules at the outset. Over time, we have all negotiated changes to the rules as the situation has evolved. I have also developed a friendship with Jayne where we meet periodically to catch up and discuss any questions or issues that have arisen.”

All three participants in this situation discuss issues and negotiate freely to ensure that everyone’s needs are considered and met, as far as possible. Clare and Jayne also communicate together and meet from time to time for a friendly catch-up. While opening their relationship has at times been challenging for Tom and Jayne, the outcome for all three has been rewarding, and overall the bond between Tom & Jayne has deepened and strengthened. Their commitment to each other has grown, and together, with open minds and open hearts, they greet their future, whatever it may bring.

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The Other Hundred

Today, depending on your timezone, is the launch of the The Other Hundred – Entrepreneurs photo-book and exhibition. This is the second edition of the The Other Hundred series which was initiated to provide a counterpoint to the mainstream media consensus about some of today’s most important issues. The first edition of the book was meant as a counterpoint to the Forbes 100, Bloomberg billionaires list and the countless other rich lists that are constantly making headlines. The second edition of the book focuses on alternative, everyday entrepreneurs.

I initially found out about the photo competition for the second edition of The Other Hundred book a week before the competition deadline closed in June last year, and I only had a couple of hours over a weekend to shoot images for the competition. Luckily I new someone who would be a perfect match for the competition criteria: Alexander Wright of Wellington Woodworks.

Alexander is the director of a small wood working collective based in Wellington, New Zealand known as Wellington Woodworks. The group’s seven members share a mutual interest in handcrafted woodwork, as well as a conscious concern for social and environmental issues. The collectives members lend one another a hand with jobs and have access to each others workshops, equipment, vehicles. The collective encourages familiarity and connectivity with the built environment, and strives to empower both individuals and groups by building and promoting community.

Alexander has a strong social and environmental ethics, which is exhibited in the character of the collective in their choice of materials and predominantly, the use of reclaimed and recycled timber which is preferred over freshly felled and sawn trees. Each piece of reclaimed timber is shaped as much by Alex as it is by its own unique history, and casting one’s eye over his collection of reclaimed timber invokes great curiosity at the stories hidden beneath the rough and weathered surface.

An important aspect of his endeavour is nurturing the development of co-operatives and/or collectives because he believes that working collaboratively is the most rewarding way to work: “collectives promote togetherness, people working with people rather than people working for people”.

My images were chosen, along with 99 other photographers from around the world, to be included in the second edition. A selection of the images which will be included in this year’s book, The Other Hundred – Entrepreneurs, is shown below:

A portrait of Alex Wright.

Alexander Wright of Wellington Woodworks

Sam Keer uses a wood lathe and hand-held cutting tools to shape a piece of reclaimed wood which started out life as a chair leg.

Sam Keer, of Wellington Woodworks, uses a wood lathe and hand-held cutting tools to shape a piece of reclaimed wood which started out life as a chair leg.

Alex (right) and Sam, run a piece of laminated timber through a thicknesser to reduce the overall thickness of the wood.

Alex (right) and Sam, run a piece of laminated timber through a thicknesser to reduce the overall thickness of the wood.

Alex uses vernier calipers to measure the thickness of a series of laminated timbers which will be used to produce a kitchen worktop.

Alex uses vernier calipers to measure the thickness of a series of laminated timbers which will be used to produce a kitchen worktop.

Testing the feel of the wood laminate to ensure each of the timbers is of equal thickness.

Testing the feel of the wood laminate to ensure each of the timbers is of equal thickness, producing a flush surface.

Alex's desk.

Alex’s desk.

An example of woodwork which Alex has created for a client in Wellington.

An example of bespoke woodwork which Alex has created for a client in Wellington.

Alex's workshop.

Alex’s workshop.

Sam's workshop.

Sam’s workshop.

Alex trims a piece of timber to the correct length in his workshop.

Alex trims a piece of timber to the correct length in his workshop.


NZ Geographic – Finalist

I’m one of 22 chosen finalists (of 3200 entries) in New Zealand to make it to the finals of the New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year 2014 photo competition (woohoo). I entered the photo-story category using a series of images I have produced on the New Zealand Clown Doctors. The images chosen for this competition are shown below.

There is a great selection of images amongst the finalists and I feel honored to have my pictures displayed alongside them.

The People’s Choice award is open for public voting and as a shameless plug, I implore everyone who reads this post to do your civic duty……..and vote for my images. A link to the voting page is here:

http://www.nzgeographic.co.nz/poty/photographer-of-the-year-2014-finalists

Many thanks for your support…….

Clown doctors Jeremy Nelson aka Dr I. V. Drip and Fingal Pollock aka Dr Flymo, acting "the clown" during their rounds at Wellington hospital.

Clown doctors Jeremy Nelson aka Dr I. V. Drip and Fingal Pollock aka Dr Flymo, acting “the clown” during their rounds at Wellington hospital.

A young patient at Wellington Hospital childrens ward, Olivia Flowers, is entertained by the New Zealand Clown Doctors as they go about their business, delivering fun and laughter to patients.

A young patient at Wellington Hospital childrens ward, Olivia Flowers, is entertained by the New Zealand Clown Doctors as they go about their business, delivering fun and laughter to patients.

A clown doctors I.D parodying the Kapiti & Coast District Health Board.

A clown doctors I.D parodying the Kapiti & Coast District Health Board.

A distressed Annika Grant is soothed with fun and laughter after an afternoon receiving a series of needle pricks for allergy testing.

A distressed Annika Grant is soothed with fun and laughter after an afternoon receiving a series of needle pricks for allergy testing.

With their noses removed and out of clown doctor mode, Jeremy and Fingal complete self-assessment and feedback forms of the people they encountered during their hospital rounds.

With their noses removed and out of clown doctor mode, Jeremy and Fingal complete self-assessment and feedback forms of the people they encountered during their hospital rounds.

The clown doctors change tactics after a failed attempt at making a young patient smile.

The clown doctors change tactics after a failed attempt at making a young patient smile.

 

Update – 09 November 2014

Last weekend (well Thursday 02 November) I was in Auckland attending the New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year 2014 awards evenings. It was a small gathering of around 50-60 people at the open-air exhibition site on Auckland’s waterfront. The exhibition was ingeniously installed in a number of custom-made shipping containers rigged together with weatherproof fabric to help keep the rain at bay (some pictures to be uploaded as soon as I’ve managed to scan them). It was a great night and good to meet other inspiring photographers. Anyway, I was awarded a ‘Highly Commended’ in the photostory category:

NZ Geographic 2014 Certificate

 


12 Hours with New Zealand Police

At Christmas I was given an exciting reportage/photojournalism assignment in New Zealand by a Swedish trade magazine, Polisförbundet, the Swedish Police Union magazine. Working with Swedish journalist Ossian Grahn, I was commissioned to photograph a story on the use of non-lethal weapons (tasers) by New Zealand Police. Ossian was in Wellington for one week interviewing members of the New Zealand Police and the New Zealand Police Association, as well as organising permission for us to go on a ride-a-long.

We arrived at Wellington police station at 4pm on Saturday afternoon. We met the two officers who we would be shadowing for the next 12 hours, and followed them into the station carpark to get into the police car. At that moment, a high-ranking cop materialised and brashly told us we were not allowed to take pictures while out on the ride-a-long.  Arrangements for the ride-a-long had been negotiated between both the Swedish and New Zealand Police Associations and New Zealand Police in the months prior to our visit and getting pictures to illustrate the story was the main purpose of the assignment (for me anyway!).

So for the first three hours, I followed the police around on their duties while surreptitiously trying to snap images from the hip using the camera’s silent shutter function. All the while Ossian was frantically calling his contacts at the Police Association to find out what the misunderstanding was and to try to get permission to photograph as was previously arranged. Three hours later the confusion was over with, and I could take the memory card out of my sock and openly take pictures to my heart’s content. Luckily for us, the more interesting events occurred after the photo ban was lifted.

It was an eye-opening experience traveling around with the police and getting to experience how they operate and view the city. It gave me view of Wellington’s seedy underbelly that I hadn’t seen before!

Having the opportunity to create this reportage and meeting and working with Ossian was also a great experience. Hopefully we will be able to work together on another assignment if the opportunity presents itself.

A portrait of New Zealand police constables Richard Briscoe (left) and Anthony Davidson (right), who Ossian and myself shadowed for their 12 hour shift.

A portrait of New Zealand police constables Richard Briscoe (left) and Anthony Davidson (right), who Ossian and myself shadowed for their 12 hour shift.

Marque of Excellence: A New Zealand Police vehicle.

Marque of Excellence: A New Zealand Police vehicle.

Constable Richard Briscoe places the suspect white powder into an evidence bag.

Constable Richard Briscoe places suspect white powder into an evidence bag. The powder was found on the floor of a furniture workshop.

Richard Briscoe on Blair Street in Wellington for disorderly behaviour. The man was caught urinating in the entrance of a retail store after drinking too much alcohol.

Constable Richard Briscoe arrests a young man on Blair Street in Wellington for disorderly behaviour. The man was allegedly caught urinating in the entrance of a retail store after consuming too much alcohol.

Constable Richard Briscoe completes paperwork in the holding cells of Wellington Central police station after arresting a young man for disorderly behaviour for urinating in the entrance of a retail store.

Constable Richard Briscoe completes paperwork in the holding cells of Wellington Central police station after arresting a young man for disorderly behaviour for urinating in the entrance of a retail store. Patience is a necessity of the job for Police when dealing with intoxicated people.

A police car parked at the entrance to the holding cells in Wellington Central police station.

A police car parked at the entrance to the holding cells in Wellington Central police station.

Constables Richard Briscoe (left) and Anthony Davidson complete paperwork at Wellington Central police station.

Constables Richard Briscoe (left) and Anthony Davidson complete paperwork at Wellington Central police station.

A man who is known to police as a persistent offender and is in breach of his bail conditions is spotted on Wellington's Manners Street by police CCTV operators and is subsequently arrested.

A man who is known to police as a persistent offender and is in alleged breach of his bail conditions is spotted on Wellington’s Manners Street by police CCTV operators and is subsequently arrested.

Reportage: on the streets with Wellington Police. Reportage: on the streets with Wellington Police. Reportage: on the streets with Wellington Police.

Police constables Richard Briscoe (right) and Anthony Davidson (left) investigate a report of a domestic disturbance in a block of flats in Berhampore, a Wellington suburb.

Police constables Richard Briscoe (right) and Anthony Davidson (left) investigate a report of a domestic disturbance in a block of flats in Berhampore, a Wellington suburb.

Constables Richard Briscoe (far right) and Anthony Davidson (front right) chat with a couple who have  a record of historic domestic violence.

Constables Richard Briscoe (far right) and Anthony Davidson (front right) talk with a young couple who are known to have a record of historic domestic violence.

The Taser X26: Non-lethal weapons are routinely carried by New Zealand police to reports of domestic disturbances.

The young couple are interviewed separately by Richard and Anthony. It was fantastic to see the negotiating and mediating skills the police have when dealing with delicate and sensitive situations, and in this case, it was handled exceptionally well.

The Taser X26: Non-lethal weapons are routinely carried by New Zealand police to reports of domestic disturbances.

The Taser X26: Non-lethal weapons are routinely carried by New Zealand police to reports of domestic disturbances.

Anthony Davidson performs a routine traffic stop on a vehicle  with defective rear lights.

Constable Anthony Davidson performs a routine traffic stop on a vehicle with defective rear lights. Ossian is just visible in the back of the car, writing on his iPad.

Anthony Davidson sits inside the police car during a routine traffic stop.

Constable Anthony Davidson sits inside the police car during a routine traffic stop and is illuminated by the vehicles interior light.

Richard Briscoe performs a routine traffic stop on a vehicle  with defective rear lights.

Constable Richard Briscoe performs a routine traffic stop on a vehicle with defective rear lights.

Patrolling the streets of Wellington's entertainment district on Courtenay Place.

Patrolling the streets of Wellington’s entertainment district on Courtenay Place. An air of intoxicated animosity followed Richard and Anthony as they patrolled Wellington’s entertainment district in the early hours of the morning.

Patrolling the streets of Wellington's entertainment district on Courtenay Place.

Patrolling the streets of Wellington’s entertainment district on Courtenay Place.

Richard Briscoe talks to a woman regarding a domestic disturbance outside Wellington City Library. It is alledged that the woman attempted to stab her partner in the neck with a plastic fork.

Constable Richard Briscoe talks to a woman regarding a domestic disturbance outside Wellington City Library during the final minutes of his shift at 2am. It is alleged that the woman attempted to stab her partner in the neck with a plastic fork.

Reportage: on the streets with Wellington Police.

The woman begins to have a seizure and constables Richard Briscoe and Anthony Davidson place the woman into the recovery position while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

Reportage: on the streets with Wellington Police.

A mixture of alcohol and anti-depressant medication are believed to have caused the woman to have a seizure.

Paramedics attend to the woman who is believed to be having a seizure as a side effect of mixing anti-depressant medication with alcohol.

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