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Nature is a Maybe

Beyond architecture, photographer Simon Devitt displays a unique ability to capture ‘sense of place’. We speak to him about his latest exhibition.

We love Simon Devitt’s photography, which is why you’ll see it in nearly every issue of Habitus. Rather than just documenting the architecture, his images evoke the experience of living in a particular place, in the same way art evokes emotion.

Now, if you’re lucky enough to be in Auckland this week, you can catch his latest exhibition, titled ‘Nature is a Maybe’.

We spoke with Simon about the exhibition which opens tonight (1 June)…


How did this exhibition come about?

My work is largely in the realm of photographing architecture and is published widely in beautiful magazines such as Habitus and Indesign.

Until recently I didn’t know that some important gallery owners have been watching my work closely, interested in how my commercial work transcends from its expected reading. It is only because of my commercial work and privileged entry to these beautiful buildings and landscapes that these pictures come to exist.


Simon Devitt photographer new zealand exhibition


Where’d the name come from?

Nature is a maybe. If nature is a maybe then architecture is a yes or a no. This work is as much about the landscape as it is the people that inhabit the structures.

Nature is a container for these things. It moves around it, underneath it and through it in unpredictable and curious ways. This fascinates me and I would love to revisit some of these sites in 10 years time.


How do these images differ from those we might see in magazines such as Habitus?

No difference at all. All of the work in my exhibitions has come as a result of my commercial work. My work as a photographer of architecture is my personal work.

For this exhibition and my show at the McNamara gallery in February I edited my archive of over 35,000 images down to a suite of 57 photographs from which this show of 25 pictures comes from. These photographs go beyond their original intention and do something more, some are seductive and some surreal.




Can you paint us a picture of what it was like shooting these images?

I think the one thing in common from the collective experience of taking these pictures is the lack of thinking that is taking place. There is really an instinctive reacting happening to the very intense… very realness of the moment.

I know of no greater art form that causes the artist to be so present, to be so in the moment.

We trust our eyes too much. The other senses are profoundly important in how we view a scene. In truth, the camera is the mechanism that takes care of the visual element. Its nature is to attempt to capture the real. That is not the challenge for me.

My pursuit is to capture the whisperings of the environment, to represent how it feels to be there. I always spend time being still in the environment I am charged with photographing. I listen as much as I watch. I wait to hear its breath. This is how I find what is really in the space.

You can see Simon’s work at the Gow Langsford Gallery in Auckland from 1 – 5 June 2010.


Simon Devitt


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