Design Assembly recently got the opportunity to chat with photographer Pippa de Court to find out more about her photography, travel, passions and the narrative behind the photos.
This article is proudly brought to you by mychillybin.
How did you initially get started in the photographic industry?
About 20 year ago I worked in a gift shop in Days Bay, Wellington where I live. Customers often asked for cards or postcards showing the beautiful Eastern bays, and we didn’t have any. I started photographing the bays and simply glued the photos onto cards and they were incredibly popular. I began enlarging the photos on block mount and canvas and sold them in the gallery. My cottage industry grew and I started my own photographic company, Scene Stealer Photography. I also produced t-shirts and hoodies with images of iconic New Zealand scenery, flora and fauna; the clothing range sold across the country.
Is photography your full-time gig and what does a typical work day look like for you?
Photography is not a full-time gig for me. I need to make some money! Each day is varied and there is no ‘typical’ work day per se. I have two other jobs, along with looking after my four grandchildren. I run a volunteer driving service for the elderly in Eastbourne and I also support students with learning disabilities at WelTec.
How did your collaboration with mychillybin come about?
Around 2006 a friend of mine, who was a Graphic Designer at the time, told me about this new stock photography company called mychillybin, so I submitted some photos and they were accepted. I’ve been a member since.
Why do you think it is important to give Aotearoa’s designers access to local stock imagery?
Stock image can be very clinical and bland and often don’t represent life in Aotearoa. Our people and surroundings are diverse, colourful and relaxed, which I think shows in the way our photographers portray our country.
And how does mychillybin help New Zealand’s photographic community?
My Chillybin gives me the incentive to keep taking photos and makes me focus on what I want to capture. I don’t always want to snap scenery but when I see something I really can’t resist, I always have it in the back of my mind that this just might sell, so I take time to frame it, play with exposure, and to keep it as natural as possible.
We love the quintessential kiwi-ness of your army hut bach BBQ photo! How did this shoot come about and what were you hoping to capture?
This particular photo is very special to me as it was an evening bbq to gather friends around as both my parents had passed away. My parents and their friends built the huts in 1957 and the people in the photo played an enormous part in my upbringing. They had all spent time at the huts over the years, and the huts stand on farmland in Waikanae to this day.
I wanted to capture the people, the huts and trees behind in the sinking sun to give it that golden glow. For me it portrays true kiwi-ness; bbq, friends, summer, old cars and farm trailers!
What are some of the best bits, and also some of the challenges about what you do?
The best bit is that when I go on holiday, it’s also a business holiday! I have mychillybin on my mind throughout. My husband Peter and I have a campervan so we spend a month every summer travelling the width and breadth of Aotearoa. Peter is a keen video maker, and we love spending time capturing scenes on our travels. We often wander into each other’s shots accidentally, so there are some pretty candid moments!
The biggest challenge is to get Model Releases. My family are great models and happily do some strange things for me, but I wish I had the courage to ask people I’ve snapped at concerts, in the street etc for a model release, but I just can’t do it! I love photographing people – capturing their faces, special moments, laughter, sorrow.
Pippa and Peter’s campervan (Billiam the Bus) was purchased in 1974 by Peter who, at the time was a motorbike racer and travelled the country with his bikes in the back. It was white, industrial with a very SLOW engine. When he retired from racing it was put in a garage and forgotten. Pippa suggested turning it into a campervan and upgrading the engine to get places faster. Billiam features heavily in Pippa’s portfolio! Image #100093_3938 by Scene Stealer New Zealand © Pippa de Court
What project, personal or professional, are you most proud of and why?
I am most proud of setting up Scene Stealer Photography all those years ago, and selling so many cards, enlargements, and the clothing range. While this is no longer the focus of Scene Stealer, I am also incredibly proud of the huge range of images I have on mychillybin and the ongoing interest from people using and buying New Zealand stock images.
Do you have any insider tips for budding photographers out there?
Take photos on your phone, but also buy a decent camera. Take it wherever you go! Go to exhibitions and become inspired by other people’s work. Look at the world from all angles and turn around. Try to keep your photography ‘true’. Practice quirkiness!
How can people stay in touch and follow your work?