On a different note

When I travel, or go on holiday, I take a lot of pictures of people I don’t know.

I rarely publish them due to the ever increasing possibility of getting sued when no model release was signed by the characters shown in the photographs.

Let’s face it, who would sign a model release – which is a contract of sorts – for someone who has just photographed you without being asked, who you’ve never met in your life before, and who you are not likely to ever see again.

You’d have to be rather naive these days to sign any piece of paper a stranger waves in front of you.

That leaves photographers in a rather tricky situation in regards to the publishing of photographs.

My general solution is not to publish as I rarely manage to get a model release signed by people who I photograph in the spur of the moment.

The exception in publishing decisions is when people can’t be easily identified.

I sometime ago resolved that I would not try for model releases, but to photograph purely for my own pleasure.

What I try though is to get an email address on the promise that I will email one of the resulting images. That works for me, and I often get permission to publish after sending an image.

While doing my thing I often end up in very interesting conversations with the people I photograph.

Everyone has a story and, for whatever reason, people tend to be happy to tell a stranger all sorts of things.

Maybe it’s the knowledge that what is said will remain confidential between the photographer and themselves. Photography certainly seems to encourage people to open their souls.

Beyond that, one of the main pleasures in spontaneous people photography is the ability to give something lasting to a complete stranger.

The below image is one such example.

I went to Wharariki Beach with a bunch of friends during our annual, and by now traditional, summer holiday.

While enjoying the beach I observed this family having fun jumping of a rather high and steep sand dune.

When I started photographing, dad, the gentleman at the top, was obviously wondering what I was doing photographing his kids.

He approached me and during a brief conversation I explained that what I saw was a slice of quintessential New Zealand life.

We exchanged email addresses and I promised to send a copy of one of the images as soon as I could. When I did he and his family were delighted with the photograph and I followed up by sending a full resolution file for printing.

Even though we are complete strangers both of us gained something positive from each other. I was allowed to enjoy and capture a special New Zealand moment, the family received an unexpected and – very likely – timeless gift.

It is part of the pleasure that photography has to offer. To quickly share something with someone without any agenda or expectation, purely because it is a nice and fun thing to do.

Family enjoying Wharariki Beach, Golden Bay, New Zealand
Family enjoying Wharariki Beach, Golden Bay, New Zealand.



Personal project 2 – Light in the New Zealand landscape

I love light.

I have never been to any country where light feels quite the same as it does in New Zealand. Because of this I’m totally fascinated by the quality of light we find here.

It’s a combination of its purity and its interaction with some of the most stunning landscape in the world.

New Zealand light is not always easy to work with, but it is extremely rewarding.

Dramatic light illuminating the hills around Lake Tekapo, Mackenzie Country, New Zealand
Lake Tekapo, Mackenzie Country, New Zealand.




Personal project 1 – People in the New Zealand landscape

To me New Zealand is defined by its landscapes and the outdoorsy nature of kiwis.

As a photographer I’m interested in how New Zealanders interact with their natural spaces.

Personally I’m attracted to the wider landscapes that we have here. The changing nature of the sea, the emptiness of the high country, the quietness of the lakes and the rawness of the mountains.

Those characteristics, I think, define our role within the landscape. We’re not insignificant, but we are often just a small part of the bigger picture.

I feel that in New Zealand we like to be part of the landscape and that there is enough space for everyone to feel a little unique and awed by what nature provides.

Evening activities on Pohara Beach, Golden Bay, New Zealand
Evening activities on Pohara Beach, Golden Bay, New Zealand.



Feeling sheepish – but finding peace

I can move on.

It has been a long time coming, 25 years to be exact.

Over the years I have tried to get what I consider to be the perfect sheep shot. On every attempt I failed.

Each time I lifted my camera the flock turned to show me their bums in a seemingly considered and choreographed gesture.

Maybe sheep sense that I wasn’t born in sheep country, that I don’t speak their language, don’t get their culture or their social habits.

Perhaps I give them too much credit, but I have a feeling that sheep are more deliberate than most people think.

I suppose they got bored with me trying and in the end relented.

Peace at last.

Near Wharariki Beach, Golden Bay, New Zealand
Near Wharariki Beach, Golden Bay, New Zealand.



A new vision for my sis

It’s been a while since I updated my blog and much has happened during the summer. While I fully intend to upload some of my own new images over the next few weeks, I first like to start with a tribute to my sister.

Norma has been a painter ever since I remember. Over the years her style and subjects have changed but she has had an artistic streak ever since she was very young.

In recent times she  started dabbling in photography. It hasn’t taken long for her to apply the painterly eye to create beautifully composed and lit photographs.

The below shot is one of those images, taken while walking her dog through the forest near her home in Germany.

I haven’t spent a lot of time in Germany over the last 25 years but this image strongly resonates with me.

Looking at the image I can smell the forest and feel part of it.

©Norma Wirtz/2012
©Norma Wirtz/2012