“I’ve always followed my instincts and done things the way I thought they should be done,” says Simon Devitt. “I show the work I want to make and inevitably that’s the work I get to make. Seems to be working.” The photographer, who is based in Auckland, New Zealand, was first exposed to film through his father, who always carried a 35mm SLR with the family wherever they went. Today Simon shoots mainly homes - for architects and interior magazines - and has had his work published across the world in titles such as Elle Decor (Italia) to Architectural Digest (Germany) and Dwell (USA). His work has also featured in books such as Long Live the Modern by Julia Gatley and Group Architects: Towards a New Zealand Architecture. McNamara Gallery in Whanganui represents Simon for his fine art photography. “I can’t imagine being anything else, nor would I want to,” he says.
Which five words best describe you? Seer, doer, maker, talker, lover.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I taught myself photography by walking city blocks, suburban streets and rural back blocks. I haven’t stopped doing this and the work I do now is directly connected. For me, my work is about witnessing how it feels to be somewhere, the essence of a place. I took this instinct to photographing architecture by photographing buildings that were accessible and then showing the architect how I saw what they saw.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? The lessons are hourly, daily, hopefully. One key lesson that keeps showing up as a question - there are only good questions, very few good answers - are you obsessed?
What’s your proudest career achievement? I’m very fortunate to say I’ve had many and they’ve shown up in many and varied ways. Often, it’s when an architect client says they’ve seen the building - they spent years making - new again through the pictures I’ve made. That, to me, is a great compliment.
What’s been your best decision? To trust my instincts.
Who inspires you? Anyone who dares to live their integrity. I meet many, often. I’m lucky. I touch down and take off in and out of many people’s lives almost every day. The main reason is that a dream they had once has come true. More often than not, they are very inspiring people to meet.
What are you passionate about? Making picture stories that offer the chance for people to see the world in a way they haven’t considered, to feel what it’s like to be somewhere they’ve never been or to meet someone they may never meet.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I really love the work of sculptor Anselm Kiefer. He seems like a super interesting guy too. Aaaaaaand I’d like to meet Jerry Lewis (R.I.P).
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Having a family of my own.
What are you reading? Another book by Rebecca Solnit, The faraway nearby.