Electric records

Derek Smith spent the early nineties photographing New Zealand while on the job as a meter reader.

Photography by Derek Smith

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Between 1990 and 1992 he took over 1,000 photos of Wellington, documenting everything from abandoned cars on the South Coast to dairies in Johnsonville.

Derek was inspired by the movement known as New American Color Photography. Described by the New York Times as “perfectly boring”, artists focused on contemporary life, presenting suburbia and overlooked everyday objects in vivid colour. Closer to home, he was inspired by photographers Ans Westra and Marti Friedlander.

A self-proclaimed non-creative, Derek explains, “I’ve got no imagination at all. I’m more perceptive than creative. The subject is secondary. It’s all about form, composition, and detail for me.”

His film photographs, published on flickr.com in 2010, have received 2.5 million views, his Wellington album being the most popular.

Now 62, Derek still travels around New Zealand taking photos, with the odd pit stop in Wellington. The ciggie advertising may no longer figure, but an early morning in Island Bay or the crowd enjoying the cricket at the Basin looks pretty similar 30 years on.


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