Architectural photographer, David Straight, gets physical

Written by Sara Black

Photographed by David Straight

Straight, a stalwart in the photography industry, releases his third book.

These days, most photographs never experience the print treatment, let alone carefully curated and presented in physical form. A book.

St. James Church is a book about St. James Church with David Straight, in collaboration with New Zealand-born, London-living Giles Reid, dishing up a doozy about the build.

St. James in Mahora, Hastings was designed by Len Hoogerbrug in 1958/59 and completed 1963. When first opened, the building received national praise, however, over the years, it was largely forgotten from the main accounts of New Zealand architecture. The church’s congregation fell away and it decided to close its doors in 2017.

“In some ways, this book could be seen as a natural extension of my monograph on Hawkes Bay architect John Scott, with whom Hoogerbrug worked in the 1960s. The building is a rare example in New Zealand of a type of monumental modern architecture that is so spare as to be almost minimal. We hope these photos act as a timely reminder of the building’s powerful atmosphere, derived from the colour, weight and clarity of its construction.” — David Straight.

Straight has a thing about buildings, not in a fucked-up I Married The Eiffel Tower kinda way, moreso, in an meticulous, photographic documentation of underappreciated works of New Zealand modernism kinda way. And writer and architect, Giles Reid, is equally in awe of the old, with his practice focusing on the reuse of existing buildings, traditional construction and a carpenter-informed approach to classically strong proportions.  

Hoogerbrug sadly died in 2019 and the church was put up for sale. Its future is currently uncertain.

david straight
david straight church
david straight

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