First XV: Te Matarae I Orehu at the New Zealand International Arts Festival (2004)

[#3 in a series of my favourite images, from my first 15 years as a professional photographer.]

2004 was the year of my first New Zealand International Arts Festival, as the official photographer (I'd been a box office manager, followspot operator & lighting technician in previous years); and while there were a number of images I really like from that Festival, this one still grabs me the most, I think.

This was also my first time photographing traditional Maori Kapa Haka performance - though far from my last! This group - Te Matarae I Orehu - had won Te Matatini a few years earlier, and were performing as part of a large-scale cultural performance in Wellington Town Hall called Toi Mana, alongside contemporary performers like Whirimako Black and Hinewehi Mohi.

Te Matarae I Orehu perform at Wellington Town Hall during the New Zealand International Arts Festival, 2004 (click the image to embiggen)

There were a number of other images from that show that stuck with me over the years, but this one has something extra - the commitment on the face of the man in the centre, plus a bit of movement blur on the young guy in the left corner as well as the big fella on the right, and the lights behind them - I like a lot of things in this frame, really.

It doesn't always work, being this close to the stage on such a wide angle lens, and looking up at an angle - but when it does, it can be so dynamic!

Next week, another year - 2005...