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Wednesday, 22 May 2019 04:49 am

Top photographers coming together in city show


WINNING SNAPS: Carl Lea (left) and Jess Riepen (right) show their award winning photo’s with Mel Phillips.

AWARD-WINNING photography goes on show in Wellington this week.

The exhibition He Whakakotahi means “coming together” because it features photography from first, second and third year students at Kapiti’s Photo School.

They include Jess Riepen (20) and Carl Lea (46), whose photography won student categories at the 2014 New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographers awards.

Photography has been an important emotional outlet said Ms Riepen.

“Each image has a particular emotion and it expresses what has happened to me in what has been a difficult year.”

Mr Lea’s work explores his ideas of masculinity, challenging stereotypes from his own personal perspective.

“It’s important to have your own style, that’s why we often make it more personal because no one else can have that,” Ms Riepen said.

They also see the exhibition as a way to pay tribute to the school’s founder, Mel Phillips.

“In lots of ways I see it as honoring all the effort that he’s put into the programme, honoring his legend,” Mr Lea said.

Ms Riepen agreed: “He holds us in place and really keeps us together.”

The school was founded by Mr Phillips in early 2000 while working for Massey University.

“Massey’s direction had changed from a real commercial focus into a degree programme which was more art based,” said Mr Phillips.

He saw a growing need for a programme with an industry focus as an alternative to the universities.

“It’s about a hands-on approach.”

The course aims to ground students in commercial practice and find them employment.

His students are now practicing professionally around the world, and throughout New Zealand.

“At an AAIP barbecue last year 11 of the 40-odd professionals in the industry in Wellington had come from this school.”

He believes their achievements comes from the teachers’ determination to support the students and the tight knit community formed around the school.

Both Mr Phillips and his students say that the school, which is part of Whitireia Polytech, exists almost as a family.

“We go further than any other school to promote our students’ success. If a students runs out of money I’ll go to their house pick them up and bring them to school.”

The exhibition opens on the October 24 at Flashdog Studio’s in Mt Cook and is then open to the public October 25-27, 6:30pm to 10:30pm on opening night, and  9:30am to 4:30pm every other night.

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is a journalist studying at Whitireia. Previously he attended Otago University where he got a BA in Communications and Philosophy.
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