This latest project by Photographer Vinesh Kumaran’s is a continuation of his earlier photographic series documenting dairy shop owners in the Auckland region. His interest is grounded in the experience of working in his family’s dairy in Māngere Bridge during his formative years, and his passion for making powerful portraits of ordinary people. As a local, Vinesh is interested in the people and stories behind Māngere Town Centre’s iconic shops and its reputation as a ‘Pacific shopping destination’.
Vinesh worked closely with the Māngere Town Centre Business Association to produce a series of portraits which will be shown in an exhibition at Māngere Arts Centre in April titled: “How much does this cost?”. In his exhibition, Kumaran captures the uniqueness of Māngere Town Centre and the people behind the shop counters. The exhibition highlights the important role that businesses play in our communities.
Read all about it below and follow the Facebook Event page for updates and announcements.
“How much does this cost?”A photographic series by Vinesh Kumaran
13 April - 15 June, Māngere Arts Centre
My interest in photographing business owners started as a continuation of a series of dairy owners I photographed in 2009 called "Open All Hours". I grew up in a family owned and operated dairy where my Dad (as well as me and my siblings) spent endless hours behind the shop counter. This meant at times we would miss out on family gatherings, social events etc. Working at the dairy has given me first-hand experience to the real cost of running a small business.
As a portrait photographer I think it’s important to connect with the person I’m photographing. I like to make them feel comfortable so I start a conversation to put them at ease. A majority of the conversations I have with them is learning about where they’re from and what makes them tick. A person will give you their time if you are open and share a bit about yourself.
I think knowing my culture and where I’m from is quite important to gaining the trust and breaking down barriers for a person to allow you to take their portrait.
My upcoming solo exhibition "How much does this cost?" is to celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of what Mangere Town Centre has to offer. The exhibition will consist of 24 large scale (2mx 1.8m) high quality photographs and moving image which will showcase the rich variety of businesses that operate within the Town Centre. It is an opportunity for people who would never otherwise enter a gallery space to come and see local people in the context of an exhibition.
I feel this is an important project that shows the stories and personalities of each business owner and showcase what Mangere is today. It’s a chance to celebrate the contribution a small business owner gives for the benefit of the wider community.
I am proud to be exhibiting in my home town of Mangere. I feel very privileged to be able to photograph and celebrate the people of my community.