We catch up with 2019’s New Zealand Young Photographer of the Year, Rachel Mataira, as she prepares for her first solo show.
Interview Adam Bryce
2020 In Review is a collection of Rachel Mataira’s documentary photography that has been captured throughout the year. The exhibition aims to bring people together to acknowledge and reflect on the collective challenges we have experienced this year and provide a sense of hope going forward.
How did you first discover photography?
My uncle is an incredible photographer. Growing up, every year we would go camping as a family and I was fascinated by the cameras and lenses that he would bring on holiday. He taught me the basics of photography through his incredible technical knowledge combined with getting out and exploring the landscapes we would camp at.
What made you make the transition from a 9 to 5 job to photography full-time?
For a long time, I was working a full-time job, studying to be a chartered accountant and running my little photography business as a passion project. I realised that a corporate career was not going to thrive with having my photography business and my photography business wasn’t going to thrive with having my corporate career. So I had to make a choice, which was following what brings me meaning and purpose.
You captured so much of what happened this year, were there particular experiences or photographs that touched you the most?
I think, for me, it was the Black Lives Matter movement.
What do you enjoy the most about the photography process?
Landscape photography is almost a form of meditation. When I am behind the lens I am so intrigued by the intricate details of the light, shadows, colours and movement that I am in my most present state. Documentary photography, on the other hand, is about empathising with the subjects I am photographing and capturing the emotion you can feel within that.
What does 2021 have in store for you?
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that you have to be adaptable and work with what is in front of you. I’m not a big fan of talking about plans before they are coming to fruition but I hope it brings travel, meaningful work and purpose.