Chloe Lodge finds her inspiration in “pretty much everything”.
The photographer and author moved to a farm in Cattle Creek with her family a month ago, from Puhoi, north of Auckland. And rather than fitting professional photography around farming life, she is taking the time to adjust, and integrate farming life into her photography.
“The light is so beautiful in the Hakataramea Valley, like, it’s just insane,” Mrs Lodge said.
“Light is my main thing, so if I see something interesting happening, I’m immediately drawn to it, a little bit like a moth.
“Also, telling my story. We just moved here, and so I’m very committed to understanding how our life is, and I do that through my work.”
Mrs Lodge hails from the south of England. She always had an interest in photography and completed an honours degree in art history in 1999.
“It’s always been in my life, it’s always been something I wanted to do, but when it was analogue, it was too expensive to make mistakes, so I never got any better.”
In her 20s, Mrs Lodge landed a job as personal assistant and expedition manager to British adventurer Bear Grylls, which ignited a passion for travel. It was on her first trip to New Zealand she met James Lodge, her future husband.
Through her late 20s and early 30s, and with the emergence of digital cameras, Mrs Lodge revisited photography and completed a masters in photojournalism and documentary photography in Paris in 2011.
“I sort of picked up a camera again, and then I decided I wanted to go professional and I needed some help. And it was in the time before Instagram and all these online courses, and stuff like that. So I went and I studied for a year, and basically from then, I’ve been shooting clients for, sort of eight-nine years, around the world.”
The couple returned to New Zealand in late 2018. James grew up on a farm in Wairarapa, and wanted to return to farming, and the couple wanted to provide their children, Max (9) and Adaline (3), with a New Zealand upbringing. The family finally found the farm they were looking for in Cattle Creek and decided to move south. Mrs Lodge is learning about farm life as she goes.
Because she did not have a work visa on arriving in New Zealand, she could not immediately get back into her professional photography.
“It was at that point I was like, I had this idea to write a book for about six years, and I thought, Maybe now is my time to get that book out of my head’.”
And so, For the Love of the Photograph developed.
She was driven to create the book, because she felt there were no photography books for people who wanted to learn photography, but not get “bogged down by the technical stuff”.
“It talks about light, it talks about colour, it talks about social media, it talks about all of this stuff, basically, other than what ISO [sensitivity to light] to shoot at.”
The book is self-published and self-distributed. The first print run was 500 copies – she needed to sell 300 to cover costs – and it has now sold more than 1000 worldwide.
“The most amazing thing I find with it, is like, you put it out into the world, and it starts having a life of its own, and I have people now all around the world, basically telling me that I’m changing their life. They’re like, basically freed me from worrying about so many things, and now I’m just taking the pictures that I love’.”
She described the book as one people could read, understand and relate to, and it was relevant to any camera, even the one on your phone.
“People have described it as a bit like sitting with me having coffee, and just like gently nudging you to kind of see the world in a more beautiful way, and also help you . . . I’m very proud of it. It’s like my baby.”
Mrs Lodge is also running a year-long project of taking a photo a day, and posting it to her Instagram page @chloelodgephotographer, which has more than 6000 followers. And she offers an advanced online photography course.
“It’s more about helping people realise who they are and what they want to say and what kind of pictures they want to take, rather than following the crowd.”
While she took the time to absorb her new surroundings, Mrs Lodge was not looking for professional photography clients just yet, although may dip a toe back in, come spring.
“I put a lot of emotional energy into when I shoot clients and do work for people .. so it’s really important for me to be in the right headspace for them and for me.
“At some point it would be nice, because I love it down here and I’m totally inspired to take pictures for people. It’s just time.”
Meanwhile, she had book No 2 coming into focus.
“I have a title; I have, like, a layout; I have chapters and everything; I even have the images I want to put in it. I just need to write it.”