Behind the camera Mele Tau’alupe is a 28-year-old Tongan photographer. Born and raised in Newtown, she runs her own photography business, working mainly on weddings and lifestyle shoots. As someone who cherishes family and community, she finds photographing weddings comes very naturally.
Why photography? In her early twenties Mele felt lost. She had dropped out of criminology studies at Victoria University and was left without direction. Deciding to fill the void with travel, she set off to spend several months in Nepal – taking her father’s camera with her, and picking up a new passion in the process.
The snap The subject of Threads of Heritage is Hana, the bride, dressed in a traditional Pakistani wedding gown. “The detailing caught my eye as soon as I saw her,” says Mele. She likes to make “headless” portraits in order to “capture the individual’s material character”.
The day of wedding was also that of the Hunga volcano’s eruption in Tonga. The photo, which will preserve a wonderful memory for the couple, also reminds Mele that it will be some time before she can return to her home country.
Judges thoughts CPotY judge and convenor, Shalee Fitzsimmons called this “an arresting image that celebrates the diversity of culture in Wellington.”