Damon Meade is a landscape photographer, film maker and time lapse artist. A graduate of the Fine Arts programme at Massey University, he’s managed to crack that seemingly elusive formula for many creatives and has been self-employed as a full-time creative since 2004.
Damon happily claims his home and his whenua, Tūranganui-a-kiwa, as the best place in the world, and the images he’s been creating and sharing over the past fifteen years or so certainly make a compelling case for that claim. It could be said that through his photography and his often lyrical written accompaniments, Damon Meade is one of the region’s most avid and far-reaching proponents of this place.
Damon started out his photography career standing on the beach, where he spent a good few years sighting his lens in on many of the country’s best surfers. Even then, his gaze often wandered to bring the wider geographical context into shot. An appreciative eye and attention to sense of place are noticeable trademarks of his work.
In the early years of his career Damon produced the surf films Wolfskinz (2007), Under The Weather (2013) and a number of short surf films including The Beaten Track (2015). He describes this as an inspired period and is proud of the lasting snapshot he captured; of what some epic local surfers were getting up to, and some of the remoter parts of the country, at a particular moment in time.
There came a point however, at which Damon was ready to get off the beach and try something different. He had been playing around with photography and low-fi time-lapse photography and it was to these mediums that he turned his focus.
As for the subject matter, he was heading for the stars.
After a few years of experimenting with time-lapse photography Damon discovered how much he enjoyed the challenge of lining up celestial elements with familiar features in the landscape. Using this as his starting point, Damon has created a body of work that depicts our landscape in a way that hasn’t been done before.
Many of Damon’s photographs and time-lapses are months in the planning, and certain shots he will return to, year upon year, with one eye on the astronomical calendar and the other on the weather forecast.
Each mission yields new insights into the character of the landscape and so the intimate knowledge he has of this place he knows and loves continues to grow, as does the internal running catalogue of shots he’d like to capture in the future. “It keeps me fit and keeps me honest” he reckons.
Damon’s creative perspective is far from limited to that which he captures through his camera lens. Often an artist will leave the picture to tell the story, but Damon isn’t afraid of adding subtext to the “thousand words” already told by his photographs, usually in the form of some kind of back story or commentary as to what is going on behind the mesmerising beauty of the photograph.
When deep sea drilling was on the cards for the government in the early 2000’s Damon was unafraid to spoil his sublime surf footage with talk of what was going on within those very scenes, ‘Drilling ship arrives in Raglan area 10 days from now’, ‘It needs to stop’.
As he captures our landscape from manifold angles, so too does he speak for it, from the state of our waterways, the impacts of forestry slash or the effect that the Space X Satellites are having and will continue to have on our night skies. There is an element of prescience in Damon’s work, by which we are called to recognise what we have in this moment, knowing that nothing ever stays the same, particularly when human beings are in the mix.
Through Damon’s lens a chilly summer morning is ‘unseasonably gruff’, a cyclone ‘chews its path along our coastline’ and even the wait on some decent surf offers opportunity for philosophical observation and a lyrical one at that, ‘a ruffled wind- ocean patiently awaits the arrival of fresh new swell.’
Most recently Damon has tasked himself with the mammoth job of pulling the various strands of his work together in one place; an online print store where a selection of his best prints are being sold. The more labour-intensive astro-panoramas are available for purchase as limited print runs, alongside an open collection of prints.
Time-lapse video, drone footage, astro-panoramas – the various components of his work all bounce off each other, they are from the same journey. Sometimes a time-lapse frame will become a wall print. Drone footage is accompanied by a still photograph from the same flight.
Through many kilometres trekked around the bare hills and rocky coastlines of the Tairāwhiti, hours upon hours of checking the weather and keeping tabs on the stars, and a philosophical outlook on his work and our changing world, Damon Meade is compiling a stunning showcase of our region, which we think is well worth checking out.
Epic work Damon Meade.
You can check out Damon’s print store here Damonmeade.com
And for examples of Damon’s time-lapse work check these out: