He shares some photos ahead of the launch of his exhibition and book on the South Auckland suburb he grew up in.
As a fashion photographer I always thought what made me unique was that I was only interested in making fashion images. I wasn't necessarily interested in photography for any other reason.
But the more work I did, the more I felt that something was missing. I wanted to explore other avenues of photography.
At the same time, I had grown up in Manurewa, a place known to people outside of the community for its low incomes, gangs, violence, crime and all the things that comes with those social issues. But I always thought of it as a place full of hard working people for whom circumstances had made life tougher than others.
The more people got to know me in my new life as a creative director and photographer, the more they were surprised I grew up out there. That kinda bothered me - did they think you couldn't be successful if you came from South Auckland? Or you couldn't work in fashion? I don't know what they meant, but I wanted to show people what it was really like.
I have spent every day in Manurewa for the last four months, and what I have rediscovered is that the people are genuine, caring, and generous. Living in Ponsonby and working in fashion, it feels like our lives are all a competition; What campaign did you just shoot? What car do you drive? Who do you know?
For the people of Manurewa - it’s all about pride, family values and being happy. I asked a mother at the Weymouth Rugby Club one day why do she thought Manurewa didn’t have that same competitive nature. "None of us have money,” she said. “Who would we be trying to kid! But we all have our heart and we can all help someone else".
My childhood was all about becoming successful, getting out of the ghetto, I thought that would make my life better - the last four months have taught me that that was never the case. Manurewa has everything I wanted and need, and the people are some of the best people I've ever known.
The result of the four months is an exhibition of photos, a book, and a whole bunch of new initiatives we have started alongside the Manurewa local board, business association, police and schools to show the next generation how far the amazing values they learn in Manurewa can take them.
- Adam Bryce
I spent a lot of time at Southmall, there are a lot of regulars at this mall, people who spend every day there. I stumbled across a group of older gentlemen one Monday and sat down and had a chat. They all fought in Vietnam together, amongst other postings. All these years later, they meet every monday morning at a little Malaysian restaurant. You can only imagine the stories these guys had, all local and most of them had gone on to be police officers in the area too.
I went to Manurewa Central School. I remembered having a great time at that school, and on my return I could see why; What an incredible place, with incredible staff. A decile two school with a massive waiting list of kids wanting to get in, that says it all really.
Spending every day in Manurewa meant I got to meet and become friendly with so many people, the sunday markets were one of my favourite days, everyone was out, everyone was smiling.
I met this incredible family, a mum and dad who look after their own two kids, one of whom is autistic, but have adopted their grand-daughter too. Their home from the front looks like any house, but once you enter, it's a kids dream. Pony and all.
Manurewa by Adam Bryce will be on display at Southmall, Manurewa from May 5 to June 1, 2018.
All proceeds from the exhibition photos and book will be given back to the Manurewa Business Association, to help the community keep growing and moving forward.