I N T E R V I E W
Ngamihi Pawa, Photographer
by Ian Duggan
Photographs by Ngamihi Pawa
Hamilton has had a succession of great band photographers. Most recently we have seen a lot of Ngamihi Pawa attending gigs, with her awesome photos appearing on Hamilton Underground Press’ website, Undertheradar.co.nz, and elsewhere. We caught up with Ngamihi to talk about who has inspired and influenced her, and the bands she has photographed.
HUP: Ngamihi, I have seen you taking photographs at a number of gigs, including many for Hamilton Underground Press. How did you get into taking photos of bands?
Ngamihi: My partner is my inspiration. I tagged along to all these shows he wanted to go see. I didn't even know who some of them were at the time — don't hate me for not knowing who the Flaming Lips and Throwing Muses were, I was mainly there for the free drinks and to have a good time! We were living in Australia, and the very first band I photographed (non-published) was Dimmer. It was from there I started to enjoy the live music scene. I was immersing myself into a lot of different genres such as Indie, Punk, J Rock, Folk and Metal. A lot of bands I got to shoot were from New Zealand including the likes of The Bats, Headless Chickens, Shihad, Tiki Taane, The Verlaines, The Brunettes and Liam Finn. We returned to New Zealand in 2012 to raise our son and It wasn’t until the end of 2014 when my son was older that I decided to pick up my camera again.
HUP: In March, you took photos for ‘Undertheradar’ at the Jesus and Mary Chain gig at the Powerstation. How did that opportunity come about?
Ngamihi: I am lucky enough to be a photo contributor to online sites such as your own, undertheradar.co.nz and muzic.net.nz. It can be difficult getting media accreditation to big shows without the help of these sites. The JAMC show came about through my contacts with UTR, who published the shots. It is a real honour to get to shoot legendary bands such as JAMC, J Mascis, Slash, Gorilla Biscuits and Jeff Tweedy.
HUP: Have there been any photographers that have inspired you, or have influenced your work with respect to your band photos?
Ngamihi: There are two recent photographers who have inspired me. One who is local and pushes the boundaries with flash — Matt Henry Photography. I love his work and he's given me a few tips on how to use camera flash. The other is Manuwino Live Photography, who is a French music photographer who uses ambient lights to his advantage and his black and white photos are awe inspiring.
HUP: Are there bands that you have photographed where you felt the results were particularly good?
Ngamihi: My first ever big assignment for Undertheradar was the 2015 Slash ‘World on Fire’ tour at Claudelands Arena. The stage felt 12ft tall and when the bright lights came up I kind of freaked. I was not used to so much light on stage and it was also my first time hearing Devilskin, who blew me away. I walked away with some great shots of both bands and I even had a guy who wanted to use one of my photos for a painting.
HUP: You have taken photos of bands from a variety of genres. What are your favourite bands, from Hamilton and elsewhere?
Ngamihi: Some of the Waikato bands I have shot recently that I enjoyed were Medusa Glare, Sterling Archer, Deathnir, The Recently Deceived and just recently El Jay Hall. Some of the out of town bands include Bakers Eddy, Skinny Hobos, Brendon Thomas and the Vibes, Eb & Sparrow and Alien Weaponry.
HUP: Your photography is not just a hobby; you also run ‘Ngamihi Photography’. What sort of photography does your business cover?
Ngamihi: My full time job is as a freelance photographer, which covers music, portraits, corporate events, weddings and I am now branching out into videography.
Check out Ngamihi’s website here: http://www.ngamihiphotography.com
And her Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/ngamihiphotography