I’m lucky enough to meet a lot of people from all over the world who are doing cool stuff!
Tiff Andrews isn’t just a regular photographer, she’s got a specific niche she works with! Her business is called Ngapuhi Photography, which she named after her tribe as a way of paying homage to her roots in Northland, New Zealand. Little did she know this would steer her photography business so much that she’d become one of Australia’s only cultural portraiture specialists.
So let’s have a look at some examples of her work and chat to her about her business!
I am of Maori heritage and Ngapuhi is the name of the tribe I’m from and calling my business that is a way of me paying homage to where I am from. I got into doing the cultural portraiture after being asked by so many Kiwi’s if I did them (because of the name of my business) I actually started out in photography as a Gig photographer and followed several Maori/Kiwi groups around.
I saw there was a market here in Australia for the cultural portraiture and decided to embark on that path and see where it would lead too. Generally Maori for example won’t go to a non-Maori photographer for these type of photos as the shots can be very emotional, and you need to understand what they are feeling and help support them along the way.
I specialize in Maori Portraiture as its my own culture and I’m sensitive to our customs and protocols. I have also photographed, Cook Island, Samoan, Tongan and Aboriginal cultures.
I also do the regular photography, Weddings, Maternity, Team Photos but I’m known for the Cultural Images.
There are a few of us that specialize in this genre, only 3 in Australia I’m aware of. We all have different styles of shooting so none of us are the same and most people can tell who did what images by looking at the style. I’ve never had someone try and impersonate my work.
You can tell a LOT about someone by their taste in music. What type of music or song have you got on high rotation?
Growing up in NZ, Reggae music was what I listened to as child and teenager along with our own cultural music. Things haven’t changed and I still listen to the same style music as well as basically anything that my ears enjoy.
Currently Conkarah from Jamaica is my fav tunes.
How do you stay motivated?
Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated when I’m not shooting, you just need to give yourself a kick in the pants and keep going.
The reactions I get out of making people happy with their photos is the best satisfaction I can get, and it can be addictive.
What’s your favorite way to relax?
My fav place and way to relax is shutting of the mind from work (which can be very hard) and just spending quality time with my family at the park or beach or catching a movie together.
If you weren’t running your cultural portraiture business, what do you think you’d be doing right now?
If I wasn’t doing this I would probably still be doing school photography. I quit that job due to the demands of my own work.
How do you you Social Media in promoting your business?
Facebook has been the main driving force behind my marketing, next to word of mouth. I started out with a Facebook page I added a few images to, and within a few months I had 5000 followers!
When I post openings for bookings and trips I generally get a lot of activity on my page, comments, shares, and private messages.
Without Facebook I wouldn’t be as established as I am now.
I’m very fortunate to have a lot of Polynesian Facebook Groups share my images on their pages and Instagram pages. Sometimes these pages have in excess of 10’s of thousands of members.
Did you hit any huge problems that made you re-think the whole thing? How did you get around it?
The big problems I have found with my career is being to trusting and generous with my work.
I’ve had a lot of people mess me around, deals that I’ve fulfilled on my side and they haven’t on theirs to name one. You learn to tighten up on your procedures, what you are willing to do in exchange for something else and who you will and won’t trust to work with in the future.
What is the hardest thing about your work?
The hardest thing about my work and every photographer can relate, is generating business.
I’m fortunate that I have very little competition and have a niche product that stands out from other local photographers, but it is still hard.
How do you manage it all with your busy schedule?
The only way I can manage my schedule is to WRITE IT DOWN in my diary.
My brain is usually focused on photos and without my diary I would probably forget EVERTHING else!
What’s next for you Tiff?
This year I hope to keep doing more of what I’m already doing, more trips lined up and the start of a book I want to put together about my journey as this type of photographer but using the clothing I use in my shoots to represent me as a person. The cloaks (Korowai) I use for my photos I now make myself as they are usually very expensive and hard to source.
I’m also in the process of putting a collection of Art Photography Images together for an exhibition I’m hoping to organize myself at a later stage.
So far in the few short years I have been doing these portraits, I have travelled to NZ, Brisbane, Melbourne and LA to hold portrait sessions. Whilst in LA I had images exhibited in a Kiwi’s in LA Annual Art Exhibition and was the first person to display my style of images since they began.
I also got to shoot a family’s portraits on Malibu Beach!
I’ve been interviewed for a radio station in NZ, had a four-page spread published in a New Zealand Newspaper Magazine (its was about my artist friend but they used my images and gave photo credit)
How do we follow more of your story?
What do you think, Tiff’s pretty cool huh? If you or someone you know needs cultural portraits done make sure you get in touch.
And stay tuned for more awesome stories from more People Doing Cool Stuff!