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Front Yard Portraits: A series documenting South Aucklanders in lockdown

Front Yard Portraits Series by Geoffery Matautia. Photo: Supplied
Front Yard Portraits Series by Geoffery Matautia. Photo: Supplied
Ann-Tauilo Motuga | Reporter/Videographer

Manifesting summer from the comforts of one’s front yard is at the forefront of Samoan photographer Geoffery Matautia’s Front Yard Portraits project.

The South Auckland photo series started a month ago when Geoffery visited his friends for a social-distancing photoshoot in their front yards.

“It was a random, spur of the moment idea,” he says. “I saw how good the weather was, and going off the lockdown level rules, I took it as an opportunity to ask my friends if they were keen on a portrait in front of their homes.”

After posting his first portraits on Instragram, Geoffery received positive responses from people who wanted to be a part of the project.

“It prompted me to think a little more into what this project/series could be. Then I decided it could be just as simple as asking them what they were looking forward to, rather than rehashing anything that had to do with Covid and the lockdown.”

Front Yard Portraits. Photo: Supplied
Front Yard Portraits. Photo: Supplied

With summer approaching, one participant is looking forward to “laying on the beach and getting sunburnt with a glass of bourbon in my hand”.

Another says summer looks like “eating out with friends and directionless ventures”, while another jokes it’ll look like “roasting battles with my family that turn into silent treatment… until dinner”.

Geoffery’s growing love for South Auckland inspired him to dedicate this project to its people.

“We’ve been thrashed by the media all the time, so it’s cool to have something that is just solely for us, by us.”

His overall vision for Front Yard Portraits is to showcase it in an exhibition so people “can see themselves in a space to be admired”. If it attracts the interests of funders, Geoffery would love to collate his work into a book as well.

south auckland Front Yard Portrait Series by Geoffery Matautia
Front Yard Portrait Series. Photo: IG – @southsides

Besides photography, Geoffery has a Bachelor’s in Communication Design and works full time in the Office of Pacific Advancement at AUT. His passion for photography started when he bought his first camera in 2015. Since then, he’s taken on freelance jobs and helped shoot content for his friends with small businesses.

“I’ve learnt that you don’t have to have a reason to create things for the people and places that you love. Those spontaneous ideas have always ended up being my favourite pieces of work and they all started from a place of just wanting to create,” he says.

The Samoan creative plans on increasing youth participation in the arts, especially in the digital realm.

“There’s a huge barrier that our youth are facing with the digital divide, and very often they’re doing the most with the least. But I’d love to see what they can do with the most,” he says, with space, resources, and mentorship provided.

Geoffery and a small team of creatives have put together an online community called Period7even with the purpose to help connect youth to creatives who are on a different stage of their creative journeys.

If you want to find out more about Geoffery’s work or how to be a part of it, you can check him out on @southsides 

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