In this week’s UoA Artist Spotlight, we showcase a photo series from Sherkhan Mazari, a fourth year Architecture student, and member of UoA PhotoSoc’s exec team. Sherkhan takes photos on film, usually black and white, and captures a wide range of subjects in this striking collection.
When did photography first spark your interest?
It’s kinda funny, my sister was more into photography growing up… When I was going into first year, I was at home in Pakistan for a bit, and I saw some YouTube videos about Pentax cameras and thought it looked pretty cool. I thought I’d use my Dad’s… it was broken, so I took it to the market and I saw a Pentax ME. It looked really cool, but also absolutely tortured. That was my first film camera. I basically started in my first year of uni, just taking photos of friends and things like that. I started up with PhotoSoc and that’s where I learned quite a bit.
I remember being so excited to get my photos back, every week. I must have been a nuisance for The Black and White Box because I called them every Friday, asking them if there were photos on the roll, or “did it stuff up?”
So, it’s kind of a family thing passed on?
Sort of, yeah. My Dad stopped doing it when things switched over to digital. He had some pretty cool photos he used to take.
What is it about film specifically that you enjoy shooting on?
I think the nice thing for an amateur is that you don’t know what you’re going to get—you have to make those 36 shots really count. If you have a bad shot then that’s it, that shot is out, and it costs money so the stakes are a bit higher. The results, when you get the photos back… there’s this feeling that you get. You captured this amazing moment, and you didn’t expect it to come out this good.
In first and second-year I developed my own black and white film, after being taught through [PhotoSoc]. I learned a lot through there… and got to share a lot, and get more insight.
And what is it that you enjoy about shooting black and white film?
With black and white, I feel I’m focused on the subject more, capturing the memories. For me, black and white allows me to capture the emotion, it’s a bit more raw, a bit less distracting… It makes you really focus on the little details.
In this collection there are photos from both Pakistan and Auckland… What’s the experience travelling between these places with your camera?
I think in New Zealand I feel I get a bit more raw and cool, whereas [in Pakistan] it’s a bit more warm, which I guess is like the climate [laughs].
In terms of history, in Karachi, the colonial architecture is not treated that well—it’s really forgotten and quite decrypted. It’s interesting to capture those things as you go around the streets… There’s so many things people take for granted in a city like that, especially because it’s quite class divided.
A lot of the photos I had taken over there were on a Super Safari, which a lot of tourists do. They have a look around Karachi on a Pakistani bus that’s all decked out in amazing patterns and people take what they see for granted—lots of people from Karachi never see those types of things.
I try to take my camera wherever I go, but I only take a few pictures these days.
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Photo: The manager of lands (Rhemat) – The manager of my family farm standing in front of his hard work. Medium: Kodak Portra 400, Shot using a Mamiya RB67 with a 127mm lens.