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Photographer

Carolyn Haslett

On finding her passion…

The one thing I always gravitated towards from a very young age has been creative things. Photography was something I fell into – my mother had an old camera that I started to use when I was 12 – and I was good at it. I became serious about it from an early age. When friends were spending their money on whatever, I was spending mine on film and processing.

On passion becoming work…

I grew up in Sumner, Christchurch and left when I was 24 and spent more than ten years overseas – mostly in Paris. France influenced me in a very positive way. I learnt how to do makeup in Paris, so I worked as a hair and makeup artist. Although I never stopped taking pictures, it was only when I came back to New Zealand that I started photographing commercially. 

On her approach to work…

I’ve been photographing mostly women from the age of 15 to 64 for more than 30 years. Professional models may be used to being in front of a camera, but most people aren’t. So I try really hard to help people relax. When I’m doing makeup, I’m trying to make people feel good. I warm them up for when I take their photos as it can be a nerve-racking experience to have your photo taken.  

On sustainability

Over-buying and wasting things like food or clothes is unnecessary. Reusing and recycling is becoming much more a part of our consciousness. I’m not out there saving the world, but I do try to make mindful decisions to do my part.  

On being grateful…

Being freelance has been good for me. I can work when I want to and every day is different. Sometimes I get to travel. I’m really grateful to have jobs that I love doing - so I don’t really see them as a job. It’s something that I enjoy so much, it definitely doesn’t torture me.

On relaxing…

I enjoy reading. I love the quiet and getting absorbed in something. It’s like travelling – you’re somewhere else, in someone else’s head when you’re reading. One of my favourite authors is Geoffrey Dwyer as it’s easy to immerse yourself in his books.

On living in New Zealand…

I love going to the beach in the summer, most recently I was at Taupiri Bay – a small Northland bay – I love swimming and floating in the water, the feeling of being weightless. New Zealand is expensive, but we have just as good (if not better!) dining and wine as anywhere else in the world. 

On a person who made a significant impact on my life…

An old boyfriend in Paris, Jean Paul, essentially saved me when my mother died. He talked with me, supported me, helped put me through makeup school. He was amazing and if I hadn’t started there I don’t know what I’d be doing now. He saved me in the most horrible, vulnerable moment and basically gave me the career that I still have now.

On being grateful…

When you get slammed a bit, and experience loss, your awareness becomes heightened. You gain perspective on what’s important and it helps to try to stay in the positive place. It doesn’t help to think about shitty stuff or comparing life to how it could be better. Want what you have.

On collaborating with Great Full…

Obviously we all have to work and think about our own lives, but if people ask you to do things and you can do it, it’s a good idea to do it. If we can do things to support any charity, it is good.

On hopes for Great Full…

That we can raise some money to donate to Starship Hospital and help children in our country.