Photography August 29, 2014
A few weeks ago, ADC featured the work of ADC Member Daniel Batten, a New Zealand born photographer, as part of August’s Photography Month. Since then, Daniel had an opportunity to chat with fellow Kiwi expats Tim Lambourne and Joe Dowling, otherwise known as the Shutter Pirates, and thought their story would make for good reading during this themed month. We agreed, and here we are!
Daniel Batten: I’ve always liked your work, but I am curious how did you get into photography?
Tim Lambourne: Dad had an old Canon AE film camera, which, like so many things when you are young, just having something is enough to make you do it. I took photography as a subject as soon as I could in high school and loved it, but then I kind of forgot about it for a few years.
When I went to study at university in America, I wanted subjects that didn’t have exams or essays so that I could party more. Art photography and Photojournalism were perfect for that, but I ended up falling right back in love with photography and have managed to stick with it this time.
Daniel: Collectively, the two of you call yourself The Shutter Pirates. How did that come about?
Tim: Joe and I were both admiring each other’s photographs from afar on Facebook. Joe jokingly asked if I wanted to join his — then completely fictional — photography crew ‘The Shutter Pirates.’
I thought he was serious and a day later we made the blog. That was four years ago.
“Joe jokingly asked if I wanted to join his — then completely fictional — photography crew ‘The Shutter Pirates.’”
Joe Dowling: More than anything it’s become a vehicle for Tim and I to realise strange ideas and show people some photography, both on the internet and also in the preferred real world.
Daniel: What kinds of photographs you love to take?
Joe: People, geometry, boring things made interesting. I have spent a while figuring out the way I like to take pictures — which is obviously still a bit of a moving target. Now my focus is more on telling stories. Ugh that sounds cliché, sorry!
Tim: I really love mundane, often boring, scenes and photos. The challenge is to make them captivating somehow, be it in the lighting, composition or the tone. Also, photos can be really funny and I love capturing that humour.
Also, probably like most photographers, I’m still a sucker for a sunset or a pretty mountain.
Daniel: You’re both living far away from home in interesting locations. Where are you guys presently based and why are you there?
Joe: I presently live in Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan in Northern Iraq. “Why Joe?” I get that a lot. The short answer is to shoot pictures. The medium version goes I wanted to start working on documentary/journalism photography after tiring of (not being that good at) commercial work in New Zealand. I convinced a buddy of mine that the Middle East was definitely a good place to travel to, and we drank whiskey and booked one-way flights to Kabul. Now we are both primary school teachers in Kurdistan. It seemed a challenging and funny way to spend an extended period of time in an inspiring and tumultuous place, so now just we teach and mission around shooting. It’s great. I will spare the long version, or maybe that was it.
“I convinced a buddy of mine that the Middle East was definitely a good place to travel to, and we drank whiskey and booked one-way flights to Kabul.”
Tim: I’m based in Tokyo, Japan, and I absolutely love it here. It is such a unique place and so different to Auckland, my home. In fact, it’s probably the exact opposite of Auckland. It’s also an incredibly affecting place. Before you know it, you assimilate into the Japanese way, the rules, manners, consideration. I’m not saying that I was an asshole before moving to Tokyo, but I was probably a bit of an asshole before I moved to Tokyo.
Tokyo is also a photographer’s dream. So many bizarre scenes and places that probably seem very normal to locals, are mystifying and exciting to me.
Daniel: The two of you run a ‘democratic photograph exhibition called ‘Paper Pirates’. Tell us a bit more about that.
Tim: Paper Pirates is an exhibition that calls on photographers to print their photographs on shitty paper, A3 or larger, and then post them to us to exhibit for one night only. The idea is to take photography off their computer and mobile screens and put it back in people’s hands.
We have run it back home in Auckland before, and this year we are doing it in Tokyo for the very first time. Hey, if anybody out there is interested in photography, you should hijack your work printer and send us some photos!
Shutter Pirates Tokyo takes place on Tuesday, September 23, 2015, at the Atsukobarouh Gallery in Tokyo. Click here for more information.