Wellingtonian, photographer and violinist in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Lucien Rizos has been looking through the lens since his teens. His work features in our current exhibition, History in the Taking: 40 years of PhotoForum - we caught up with Lucien and asked him a few questions about his photography and involvement with PhotoForum.
What inspired you to take up photography?
I was fortunate to grow up in an environment that encouraged all kinds of mucking about with art materials. And that naturally flowed onto looking at pictures of art. In my teens, my uncle Gerald O’Brien, passed onto me his own enlarger he had made for himself as a young man, out of a camera lens and bits and pieces of tape and wood. That, along with a Leica in the family, was a bonus!
As for inspiration, just the usual suspect… Henri Cartier-Bresson.
When did you first hear about PhotoForum?
I can’t remember first contact, but I have wonderful memories of my early meetings through one or two workshops in the middle 70s, mucking about with people who became and remained life long friends. Also in the late 70s when the NZSO was in Auckland, I would connect with John B. Turner (PhotoForum founder), and I would be on the receiving end of his sharp intelligence in commenting on the photos I had hoped he may be interested in. The strongest memory is of his generosity and time. He singlehandedly made me feel I was doing something worthwhile.
What does PhotoForum mean to you ?
In the early 1970s, PhotoForum Wellington was a place to find idealistic, like-minded people who all felt that photography was a relevant medium to give form to our feelings on life. PhotoForum now means reconnecting with a wonderful community of people who are mature artists in their own right.
What are some of your favourite subjects to photograph?
Playing about with the medium, and hoping this has a connection with the real life of people and their external and internal lives.
Your photograph Wellington, 1974 features in the exhibition History in the Taking: 40 Years of PhotoForum – what’s the story behind the photograph?
This photo (pictured below) was made over 40 years ago, right at the beginning of my getting into photography. And the obvious places to find 'easy' subject matter was at fairs or parades, such as in this picture.
I suppose this image tells a couple of stories. The simple one is about the dream or nightmare of any photographer, i.e. everybody sees exciting and interesting things, except for me! The second story is about everybody looking around, alert and preoccupied by something else. But the boy is focused on me, and because I am a beginner at this game, I am startled to see myself in the kid. And maybe he has found something of himself in me! A sort of mutual recognition.
Lucien Rizos, Wellington, 1974.
Photo-Forum 45 (April 1980).p3. Silver gelatin print. Collection of the artist.
Olivia Lacey, Publicist