First XV: Eleanor Catton (2011)

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

This week's image isn't just one of my favourite images, it's one - by virtue of Eleanor's own success - that has been reused & reprinted far more than anything else in my career to date.

Of course, it's impossible to know the actual number of copies of this image; but I've seen estimates that her book The Luminaries sold 560,000 copies (with one copy of the image in the back of each of those); plus, the image appeared in countless media around the globe when she made the long list, then the short list, and then won the Man Booker Prize in 2013 - so I can scarcely guess the number of printed copies of all of those newspapers!

Eleanor Catton, author of The Luminaries, in 2011 (click the image to embiggen)

Funny thing is, we more or less met by accident - she was a young writer competing in a one-day short story contest at the New Zealand International Arts Festival I was photographing in 2008 (she won the public vote), and I stopped to chat with her after learning her last name was just one letter different from mine. Turned out, she was also born in Canada and moved to New Zealand, much like myself!

We kept in touch, bumped into each other at a few other arts events over the years, and she got in touch for this shoot when she started getting close to finishing the book. We walked around Wellington for a bit, and stopped in this laneway - I knew the light was good here at this time of day, with daylight coming through both a skylight above her and the street behind me, which worked well with the receding lines of the alley.

But, y'know, I would never have imagined how far this one particular image would wind up going. (I'm not sure she knew how far the book would go, either!)

Next week, another year - 2012.