"It's a fusion of art & high-tech & Latham is a Master Photographer"
- Art Critic Larry Jenkins, September 2004
For me, photography is an all-consuming passionate expression of what I see. For as long as I can remember, I have invested fortunes into camera equipment & I long dreamt of being a landscape photographer. Back in the late 80’s I worked in a camera store in Auckland & read every photo magazine cover to cover, extracting as much inspiration as I could, then snapped away with my Canon T70 (which was quite flash at the time!) Mobile phones were portable bricks & who had heard of Apple, wasn’t that a fruit?
My first tour of the south island was in February 1988. My sister had returned home on holiday & we did a two week “tiki tour” down south. I was constantly wanting to stop & take photos, Anne (sis) was forever yelling “Peter, hurry up”! Envying scores of cyclists touring the island, I decided that that was the way to do it & so twelve months later I did. In order to fund bigger & better camera equipment, I took on a second job of washing dishes at weekends & then packed my bike with all I could carry, including a new Bronica ETRS 645 medium format camera (read my article in "NZ Adventure", Jan 1990.)
I went on to spend many years travelling the world as a photographer aboard cruise ships & was lucky to travel to & photograph many of the world's most exotic sights, before I then returned home to Auckland in 2003. Having been exposed to the new technology of a large format inkjet printer at sea, I quickly purchased my own & began experimenting with printing some of my images onto canvas. After much trial & error, I focused my attention towards iconic images of New Zealand & began to establish relationships with prominent art galleries. Back then, many people were reluctant to appreciate photography as "art", so I experimented with different digital techniques to try & overcome this. Times have changed & we are now catching up with the rest of the world, where fine art photography is coveted & collectors regularly invest six-figure sums for prized works.
From the outset, I developed my signature box frames for mounting my stretched canvases & these proved enormously popular with my range of triptychs. Keen to keep innovating, I created an acrylic "ice cube" to house my work "Ice Arch" & diversified to offer my prints on 100% cotton rag, fine art paper. I went on to develop oval frames for both paper & canvas prints & am now pioneering high-resolution art on glass & fabric - the results are astounding & the potential is very exciting. Trust me, photography is a very demanding profession. The illiusion is that I spend a lot of my time in the field, but in reality, 95% of my time is spent keeping up with print production, gallery & client visits plus general administration. I'm forever pushing myself to deliver the best possible results & service I can. I love the challenge, but the time & investment is massive - to earn a living as a full time artist in New Zealand is not that easy!
I ship my work to clients around the world, with collectors including the family of the famous Swedish camera manufacturer, Hasselblad. Corporate clients include household names such as TVNZ, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Ministry of Primary Industries, Frucor, Glaxo Smith Kline, Southern Cross, Starship & Ascot Hospitals, Rydges Hotel, NZ Steel, Icebreaker, Metlife Care, Vector Arena & many more. I'm particularly proud of the recently completed commissions for Auckland International Airport, which feature 20 remarkable large installations on both Glass & Fabric.
There is no doubt that we kiwis live in the finest little country in the world. New Zealand may look small on a map but we punch way above our weight in everything we do & our landscape packs more variety & grandeur into every corner than anywhere else. Not that it makes my job easy, one is never far from the ocean & that means one thing - every changing weather & plenty of liquid sunshine!
Those moments when you happen to be in the right place at the right time are really rare, timing is critical & the light may only last for seconds. Whether it's wading through muddy mangroves or dangling from a tree for a better view, a degree of madness helps a lot! I strive hard to be original & capture iconic images that portray a unique moment in time.