I opened an exhibition called 'Living Life in Layers' on October 9 in Auckland after agreeing to photograph a series of incurable breast cancer sufferers to raise funds for SWEET LOUISE - an agency dedicated to helping these women - and men! The challenge with these images is to get people to look closer at what it is to be living life with incurable breast cancer - so that we all may better understand what can be done to help. 

Ten subjects are exhibited - 9 women and 1 man. Since I completed the series three of them, Mata, Cherie and Max have passed away, but I hope the images and their use will serve not only to grow our support for agencies like SWEET LOUISE but also act as a reminder of the dignity and spirit of these ordinary people that have acquired an extraordinary view of life.



"Photographs shown by Nigel Swinn are of the kind that seize a moment and situations in time and place that have unique qualities. These opportunities result in works that are not snapshots but considered images that give the moment a sense of timelessness.

Swinn opens a crate sent to him and there, surrounded by clouds of white cotton wool, is a perfect specimen of a tui. It makes an impressive image. He finds a rabbit floating in his pond. The water is clear so the animal is floating serenely in space, its colour rhyming with the rocky floor of the pond.

The images insist on reality but embody an element of the surreal. How many millions of tourists have taken shots of the gardens at Versailles? Swinn's winter photographs of the trimmed hedges bare of leaves and the promenades empty of people are brilliantly sharp and offer a stillness that is almost palpable."



This year's Auckland Art Fair was held at Auckland's Cloud and Kathlene Fogarty and her FHE Galleries used my large image of Tiki Taane's 'Hands' as a centerpiece.


To coincide with the launch of Michael Bennett's book on the Teina Pora case that saw a man wrongfully imprisoned for 22 years, Mana Magazine ran a cover story on Teina and his progress. Like the photos I took of Teina, they saw his story as very much one of a journey from troubled childhood to enlightened adulthood; from some very dark places to a somewhere he could lead a peaceful existence; a journey not yet certain. So they used three of my portraits.

I spoke to Teina at the book launch and he's now living with family in Taranaki after a difficult post-prison acclimatization in Auckland. He looks well, is enjoying the country life and is positive about his future. He has many friends that have his back - Fete and Viv especially - and goodness knows he needs them. But here's hoping we also have a society that supports him with the patience required for a person that has to learn how to live and work in the community for the first time as an adult.   

NO FREE MAN by Nigel Swinn


In early August, my exhibition called NO FREE MAN opened at The Gus Fisher Gallery on Auckland's Shortland Street. Two of the exhibition's subjects, Teina Pora and Louise Nicholas, made it along to the opening and were honoured by the gathered intelligentsia, and rightly so. But a number of other subjects couldn't make it. They are still serving sentences for a range of serious crimes - some in the high security unit in Christchurch.

I was approached by Erin Griffey and Linda Tyler from the Auckland University to collaborate on this project as a New Zealand perspective on the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta and our modern rule of law.

I visited Christchurch mens' and womens' prisons, met and photographed a number of offenders. I spent a day with rape victim and advocate Louise Nicholas, and a weekend with Teina Pora fresh from his release after 21 years in prison, wrongly accused. A triptych of Teina showing the three distinct emotions of his story - confusion, loss and reprieve - became the centerpiece of the exhibition. For my part I don't think I'll ever forget the way he started his account of his imprisonment..."It was the first 11 years that were the hardest".

It's hard to truly relate their stories. I was interviewed on 3 News and by Eva Radich on the Concert Programme and I doubt I did my subjects any favours. Thankfully, their faces tell a better story than I ever can.



Imagine the thrill of being told that not only is your work accepted for inclusion in a contemporary photography show in LA, but one of your images will be the featured shot on billboards around the city. Thus, in late April I found myself in a dream and an Uber cab speeding towards West Hollywood with eyes peeled for one of 'my billboards'. As my driver, a medical student with a new Lexus, was explaining why Obama's Presidency was failing because "he was baptised a Muslim" I looked out at hoarding hell. It was clear there was little chance of the truth, let alone a photography exhibition competing with the Game of Thrones and Eyebrow Threading (with '100% Virgin Indian Hair’) billboards lining Santa Monica, La Ceniega and Sunset Boulevards. 

My breakthrough in America was nowhere in sight. But on Melrose Avenue, opposite the Paramount Pictures backlot where LA's edition of the Paris Photo Fair was being staged, in a more modest film studio called Raleigh Pictures, I found a haven of photographers and lovers of photography called LA Photo Independent - and I was indeed the featured photographer. My image of 'Tipene with Eyes Open' was on the catalogue cover, tickets and VIP passes.

There were Australians, Chinese, Rock & Roll photographers and their images of The Stones and the stoned, lots and lots of Americans, and one Kiwi. But that Kiwi's images were way bigger than anyone else’s, and this is a town that appreciates someone who clamors for attention.

Welcome to Hollywood.

STILL by Nigel Swinn


Kathlene Fogarty at FHE in Auckland is known for her relentless support of unique story-filled work from Aotearoa. She has been a long time champion and representative of the great Marti Friedlander - a photographer whose work in the book 'Moko' I shamelessly copied in oil paintings in my youth.

Kathlene's years of support for Marti has paid dividends, so when I was offered an exhibition at FHE I was flattered and grateful, but more than a little worried I was starting my run a little late. But the exhibition opened well, was reviewed positively by T.J. McNamara in The NZ Herald and work from it was bought by a top collector in Auckland and a high profile Kiwi in the Aussie media.

So a good first lap - Thanks to Kathlene.