The Artist Series: Gemma Chapman | Queensberry

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“Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.” – Oscar Wilde

In this series we shine a light on artists expressing their individuality, documenting what they love, working hard on their craft, and sharing it with the world.

Gemma is an adventure and travel photographer currently based in the South Island. Born and raised in Nelson, she's grown up exploring the three national parks that border her home city.?

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"My style has been largely influenced by my upbringing in Nelson. Surrounded by beautiful beaches, lakes, mountains, and sheltered seas, I was exposed to a multitude of outdoor activities. Many family holidays were spent boating, camping and tramping around the region's unique landscape. This fuelled my desire to travel and experience what other environments and cultures had to offer."

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When asked about how she got started in photography, she shared a story about the image that lead her to pursue a career. "Shortly after completing my final year of high school, I was approached by a local Stand Up Paddle boarding company about taking a series of images for them. I borrowed my boyfriend’s underwater point and shoot, convinced him to be the model and accepted my first photography job as a very green 18 year old. I entered one of these images into a photography competition and ended up winning flights for 2 to Hawaii. I of course invited my talented model and we set out on our first overseas experience together. This ignited my passion for all things adventure, travel and photography. It was this trip that left me wondering whether it might be possible to combine all these things I loved and call it a job one day!"

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Gemma graduated from Palmerston North’s UCOL (Universal College of Learning) with a Bachelor of Applied Visual Imaging. After having built up great technical knowledge and creative ability, she knew she could produce quality work, but didn’t know where to start when it came to turning this into a business. "It was a classic case of having ‘all the gear and no idea’."

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"I fell into the trap of thinking it would just happen or someone would notice my work, I didn’t have a plan. I don’t think any amount of study or professional advice could have prepared me for the amount of motivation, persistence and self-belief needed to turn my passion into a career. My journey towards professional photography has been laced with lessons in the value of stepping outside my comfort zone, or ‘bravery’ as my mentor likes to call it.?Bravery to set out on a solo OE, bravery to ask to be fairly paid, and most recently, bravery to make my photography business fulltime."

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"I think two of the most important things to have when setting out in business is confidence and self-belief. If you don’t have confidence in your own abilities and truly believe in what you’re doing, how can you expect others to?! Don’t fall into the trap of comparing your work to others, take inspiration from them and remember that everybody is at a different stage of their career / creative journey. Don’t seek the approval of others, back yourself and just go for it!"

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Up until earlier this year Gemma and her partner had been working in the tourism industry, 2020 however had other plans.??

"COVID19 came along and shook things up pretty quick! It brought some important questions into focus, questions I’d been ignoring for a good few years. I think it’s all too easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and lose sight of your dreams, I know I did. Over the past few months I’ve spent time doing more of what I love, road tripping, camping in our new Feldon Shelter, seeing friends and family, and of course taking photos. There’s a lot to be said about taking time out for yourself and ‘filling your own cup’ as they say."

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We asked Gemma about her favourite locations to shoot. Here's what she had to say:

"Just recently I was on assignment with South Pacific Helicopters in Kaikoura. I think this has got to be one of my favourite shoots to date! We flew up into the Seaward Ranges at sunrise and captured some absolutely stunning scenes. It was such a calm and clear day you could look north and see the North Island, South and see the Banks Peninsula, and out East, the sun was rising straight up over the?Pacific Ocean. Nothing beats the thrill of hanging out of a Heli at 8000 ft, with -10° air whistling through the cabin! After our time in the mountains, we headed out over the water in search of the largest toothed animal on the planet – the Sperm Whale. It wasn’t long before we were circling above these magnificent creatures, the perspective and scale you could see from above were incredible. There isn’t anywhere else in the world you can buzz around snow-covered mountains and then head out on an aerial whale watching experience, this is something that is uniquely Kaikoura – in my opinion, one of the most underrated locations in the country."

You can find more of Gemma's work on her InstagramWebsite and Queensberry Print Store.

Charlotte x

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