Evotia Tamua

Photography was not offered at Evotia Tamua’s school, so she taught herself. Now it has become a full-time job that is well documented in an extensive professional portfolio. After the weddings, sporting events, and portrait sessions, Evotia follows her eye, focuses her lens, and captures telling moments for her own creative work. Looking at those moments she captures in her free time, reveals a lot about Evotia.

Numi Vamaua is from the Salelesi series that Evotia has been working on over the past 15 years. The series is named after her fathers village in Samoa. During frequent visits there, Evotia noticed how few photographs there were of her grandparents and the village elders. Rather than simply taking snapshots, Evotia replicates the nostalgic photographs taken in Apia’s photo studios between 1900 and 1950. While the homes and lifestyles have changed, certain resemblances remain between the old and the new photographs, such as the fala and the way family members stare reservedly down the barrel of the lens. The modest yet honourable poses that family members choose still surprises Evotia who also interviews them as part of this genealogical record.

Evotia Tamua, "Numi Vamaua"
Numi Vamaua

While documenting her family is an important endeavour, Evotia also enjoys photographing people without pretension. Capturing candid moments can reveal intricacies of a personality or present something altogether unreal, as demonstrated in her photographs of fa‛afafine fashion shows. More exuberant than the Salelesi portraiture, the images of fa‛afafine reveal some of Apia’s flamboyant entertainment. Yet in the midst of the excitement, Evotia’s eye leads her to find scenes such as Untitled. This calm and elegant contestant sits majestically in a white gown displaying an unusual purse. Taken backstage and devoid of the hectic rush of the fashion show, this scene is only identifiable as Samoa to those who recognise the curtains as typical to the islands. The generic poster of a waterfall, plastic chair, and cold, tiled floor hardly reveal the paradisiacal scenery behind the curtains.

Evotia Tamua, "untitled"

Evotia enjoys performance, such as those at the fashion shows. Although she’s not a fan of sports, Evotia enjoys capturing bodies in motion. Eden Rugby and The Diver demonstrate the beauty of the body in motion. Teaching herself while on the job as a press and portrait photographer, Evotia has achieved the delicate combination of timing and composition to capture that one moment in time, “that one frame that says everything… without having to say a word.”

Evotia Tamua, "Eden Rugby" Evotia Tamua, "The diver"
Eden Rugby The Diver

Evotia has collaborated with her sister, Eimi, also a photographer on various projects including Love Me Tender (2007) and Coming Together (2008). She has exhibited in solo and group shows in New Zealand and internationally. In 2007, she established Little Island Press with Tony Morrow “to publish high-quality photographic and text-based books that connect people and communities – their ‘cultural communities’.”  See more at www.evotia.co.nz.