Looking

Photographer, Marti Friedlander, on arriving to New Zealand in 1958 and using her camera to record the unfamiliar and make it coherent –

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“Documentary photography has always been my preference, ever since I saw the Family of Man exhibition in London, the images of which were such a moving celebration of our humanity and diversity. I am continually deeply touched by the human spirit and its ability to overcome adversity. Growing up in an orphanage with three hundred other children enabled me to observe at first hand the complexity of human nature. As a migrant adjusting to a new life, the difficulties that I encountered in New Zealand were more to do with my resistance to giving away a background which I valued. I missed the rich vein of self-deprecating Jewish humour, the discussion of ideas, and argument. Empty beaches, however beautiful, increased my sense of loneliness, as did the bush and mountains. I wanted to feel a human presence in the vast, and at times seemingly primeval, landscape. In these remote rural places however, I also felt in touch with the essence of New Zealand. The people to whom I met, men and women going about their daily lives, could not understand why I should wish to photograph them, but always generously acceded to my request, even if bemused by it…

…My photography has always been about an involvement and extension of a personal view of life, rather than a particular attention to the craft itself. My cameras accompanied me then so that I could record the everyday. As a photographer I see images everywhere. What prompts me to take the photograph at any given moment is an intuitive impulse. The play of light on the subject is the catalyst for the moment I choose to press the shutter.”

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