Artist, designer, photographer

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ARTIST, graphic designer, or photographer? It’s difficult to decide what to list first when describing multi-talented young Whakatane man, James Stanbridge.

Photographer, perhaps, since this is the medium he is currently focusing on. Though James also works full-time as a graphic designer for the Law Creative Group, a job that he loves. And, he is also an accomplished artist to boot.

Later this month, James will take on his latest photography assignment, donating his time and skill to photograph Oho Ake – Rise up, a concert being held at the Te Teko race course on May 27 to raise money for flood relief. Taking part in the fundraiser, James will be one of a host of people supporting the event voluntarily, supporting its effort to bring assistance to flood-affected Edgecumbe residents.

James is making a name for himself across various artistic disciplines. His sharp eye and creative artistry has led to striking images, in both photography, and in the art he earlier focused on – carefully constructed drawings created over many hours, depicting a host of fantastical images.

James says some of the drawings were created during the long period he was ill, serving as a “catharsis, a purging, a way of processing and moving forward”. His drawings have been exhibited in both group, and solo exhibitions in Tauranga, and he has also been a finalist in the Molly Morpeth Canaday Art Award in Whakatane.

James’ work, and study, have led him on several trajectories since leaving Bethlehem College in 2007. Studying art and design at Massey University in Wellington, he then moved to Hamilton to take on a year-long catering course. The course was awesome, he says, but gleaning a picture of the long work hours and often unsocial lifestyle of a chef, James decided the work was not for him.

Taking on freelance photography and graphic design projects in Tauranga, James also returned to study, this time with a focus on illustration and graphic design. Completing a diploma in design (graphics), health issues forced him to abandon further study prior to the completion of a degree.

James says he struggled through the second year of the diploma, and was “beat”. He left, planning to take a break before returning, but laughs when he says that break has turned out to be six years so far.

Living with family in Blenheim during his recovery, and later, taking on design work for a local magazine, James says it was during this period that he discovered photography. “I’d always liked it, but it had never been a serious pursuit,” he says.

Back in Tauranga, James again took up freelancing, designing packaging for some companies, websites for others, as well as taking on a tutoring position at the polytechnic. All the time, with a growing love of photography brewing in the background, and an ever-increasing amount of photography work.

His interest in photographing music events in particular, has led to a variety of work, including a long involvement with the Sundaise Festivals, acting as photographer, graphic designer, and often both.

It is photography though, that is currently growing to take centre stage in his life. Recent landscape images, those of fashion, performance, and a host of other arenas that have come under his lens, are marking James Stanbridge as a name to watch out for. Additional images can be seen viewed on website jamesstanbridge.com.

RANGE: Below, photos by James Stanbridge include, the statue of Wairaka at The Heads, boats moored on the Whakatane River under a field of stars, Mount Putauaki, Tarawera Falls, wedding photography and Whale Island from Piripai Beach 

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