SOME might say it’s stalking, others might call it people watch-ing, but for Gisborne man Stuart Moriarty-Patten his eye for finding the extraordinary in ordinary people has turned into a fully fledged photography project.
At the beginning of this year the amateur photo-grapher launched 101 Gisborne People, an on-line blog that displays 101 photographs of the day-to-day lives of Gisborne people.
“The concept is about taking random photos of random people in Gisborne,” he says. “I didn’t want to take photos of well-known people because ordinary people have stories too and those stories need to be told.”
The photos on the blog display the many different characters and individual styles of Gisborne locals with shots ranging from a young mother with her children to a man with alcohol outside a liquor store.
“Some photography projects have captions and explanations about the photos,” the photographer says.
“But I’d like people to interpret the photos themselves because they can be seen and understood in many different ways.”
Moriarty-Patten often adds an arty element to his photos with the use of Photoshop filters and frames.
At first he took most of the snaps on his camera but switched to his phone when people became suspicious of the strange man with the camera.
When asked about the ethics of taking photos of people without their permission, he says he’s not the first street photographer to take photos like this. In any case, he reckons he’s got that covered:
“I have a disclaimer on the website that says anyone unhappy with a photo can contact me and I have no problem with taking it down,” he says. “I’m not trying to be voyeuristic and I would never photograph someone in a compromising position.”
He also says if someone saw him taking a photo and was unhappy he would delete it instantly.
“But I’ve never had to do that,” he says. “So far I’ve only received positive feedback.”
The blog is updated monthly with new photos but Moriarty-Patten admits that the quality of the images is largely dependent on weather and and lighting. Even so, he never plans his photo taking opportunities. Instead he prefers the “accidental” approach.
“I just take photos during my day-to-day life because otherwise I would lose the random element of the concept.”
Not quite so random is Moriarty-Patten’s academic life — he recently finished his master’s thesis on the Industrial Workers of the World movement in 1913.
But he believes that his thesis statement and photography go hand-in-hand, both reflecting his fascination with ordinary and working-class people.
He is busy with the publishing deal for which he has committed to turning his thesis statement into a book . . . but he remains dedicated to the blog’s concept.
“A lot of people take photos of Young Nicks Head and Kaiti Hill to portray Gisborne,” he says.
“But I think it is the people that make the town.”
■ Stuart Moriarty-Patten’s blog can be viewed online at 101gisbornepeople.wordpress.com