Vice: This Photographer Captures the Quiet Oddness of Everyday
Beautiful photos of the ordinary and strange.
New Zealand photographer Meg Porteous’s gentle, offbeat images take ordinary scenes and bring them sharply into focus, elevating the everyday.
Her latest work, which she’s exhibiting as ‘Departure Melody,’ was created during an artist residency in Japan. Porteous says while she’d often begin the day with plans for photographs, the most successful photos she ended up taking were accidental moments and chance encounters.
“A successful image me is about colour, composition, all these technical things – but there’s also something about it you can’t put your finger on. Something a little off about the image, but something really right about it as well,” she says.
Her series, shot entirely on 35mm film, captures some of the oddness of being a stranger in a strange place.
“Being in a new place you are constantly bombarded with new things, so you are more sensitive to your surroundings. I guess I was trying to steer away from just being a foreigner in a new place, and tried to focus in on really small romantic gestures that I see in the everyday. If you look at the work, some images are distinctly Japanese. But a lot are really decontextualised, or close-ups, or so they could kind of be taken anywhere.”
Riding the Japanese train system for hours each day, she would hear ‘Departure Melody’—the song that plays each time a train leaves the station. She says the series is also something of a departure from her previous work to be more focused on light and self-reflective.