Writers by night: Brendan Kitto  

In his new exhibition at the Auckland Festival of Photography, Brendan Kitto combines his passion for photography and graffiti art. Night Visions gives viewers a look at the nocturnal world of graffiti artists as they go about their sometimes unappreciated craft. Brendan talks to D-Photo's Point-Shoot blog about putting the series together and some of the escapades it led him on.

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D-Photo:  Can you give us a brief outline of what the Night Vision exhibition is all about?

Brendon Kitto: It's about what graffiti writers get up to while the rest of us are sleeping.

Are you a graffiti artist yourself?

Yes I am, I have been involved in the scene for the past 14 years. I am part of the TMD (The Most Dedicated) graffiti crew.

What is it about graffiti writing that makes for a good photographic subject?

It tends to be hidden from the public eye and the works that result are often very temporary, so if it's not captured , it's gone for ever.

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Are the images in the exhibition all recent, or do they go back a way?

The work is all recent. I started shooting around February.

Where were the images taken?

The images were shot around the inner city of Auckland and the southern rail corridor.

Since you've been involved in the graffitti scene, how have you seen it change?

The scene in Auckland has changed a lot. But the biggest change was when the Rugby World Cup came to town, the council thought it was important to remove every aspect of graffiti, to me this has removed a lot of vibrance from the city.  But in saying that, the scene has moved to finding more obscure places to paint, which is great photo-wise.

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Being the 'underground world of street art', do you ever run into graffiti writers resistant to having their picture taken?

No. As I have been a part of the scene for a considerable amount of time, and other writers know me.  I guess I have a trust within the writing community that I'm not going to post images revealing their identity.

There's often a lot of antagonism from the general public towards graffiti art – are you hoping to change hearts and minds with these images, or simply document?

Purely to document, to show a side people don't often get to see; writers in action

What sort of gear do you shoot with?

A mixture of digital and film:

Fuji X-Pro1 with a 27mm pancake lens

Olympus OM-1 with a 50mm lens & OM-2 with a 28mm

Canon AE-1 with a 50mm

Bronica ETRSi with a 50mm

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What was the biggest challenge you faced in putting the project together?

Security Guards.

Do you have a favourite image from the exhibition, and why?

My favourite image would be the one I titled Retreat (above).

I headed out with four writers and we had to move as security was coming (we had seen them before they saw us). So we headed back down the train line to a safe point and watched what they were doing . A passenger train was approaching so we took cover inside the bush – the lights from the train carriages produced enough light to for me to get a shot of one of the writers assessing the situation whilst the train passed. The others took a nap in the grass waiting for the “all clear”. The writers were cool, calm and collected throughout the whole time – it brought back a sense of nostalgia.

What's next for you?

I currently have a pop up show at Studio 40 in Onehunga.

I'm also in the development stages of a book with artist Askew1 and have a few projects that I hope to have completed for the photography festival next year.

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What other exhibitions are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

Jos Wheeler – Voicing Dissent Great South Road at the Art Station Helen Clegg – The Bridge Gathers

Night Visions is currently showing and runs until June 12 at the Depot Artspace in Devonport