Interview with Tonia Kraakman

Hi Tonia, tell us about you!

I was born in Moscow, Russia and moved to NZ with my kiwi husband in 2013. We travelled quite a bit around South Island trying to find the perfect place to live until we settled in Alexandra a couple of years ago. I love the climate of this area, it is very close to what I'm used to – freezing cold winters, hot summers and very different seasons so you never get tired of burning hot sunny summers changing to stunning golden autumns then to frosty grey winters and then to colourful springs filled with fruit trees blossom. You get only a few months to enjoy each season, honestly, sometimes its just not enough.

I work from home for a travel company, I am responsible for the content of the company's website and do a bit of digital marketing too, it is quite new for me at the moment but I'm learning more about it every day and it's super interesting and exciting for me.

I'm married to a wonderful man, we have a big dog (very photogenic by the way, she is my best model), a cat – he is an elderly gentleman, and a horse; my husband's mistress!!

In our free time we love travelling – hoping to go to Russia this September. We also love camping, tramping and all other outdoorsy stuff that helps us appreciate the wonders of New Zealand.

How and when did you get started with photography?

I always loved taking photos on our holiday trips and family events but I never did anything else with those photos so they would just pile up on hard drives and take space. Then a few years ago I discovered the miracles of Photoshop and Lightroom and oh, everything changed!! It's amazing how much can improve photos with just simple cropping and light adjustment. Gloomy dark uneven pictures become very pretty after just a little bit of work.

How would you describe your photographic style?

I'm quite new to this whole photography world and I'm not sure I have a style yet to be honest. There are things that I like looking at and taking pictures of and things that I don't care much about so I don't think “omg I need to take a photo of this”.

I'm not very good at telling people what to do and how to pose so I'm guessing I'm not a portrait or studio kind of photographer, I'm more like an quiet observer waiting for the right meaningful moment to take a picture of. Or a nature photographer maybe – nature is always there and always perfect, you just need to capture it.

You had one of your photos appear on the front page of The Press newspaper, tell us about that!

Unfortunately, this story is not as exciting as it may seem. I was on a cruise to the Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand in December 2018 and, obviously, took a lot of  photos.

I'd sent the pictures to the company organising the trip and when they were approached by the newspaper to provide some material for an article my photos were chosen as the best ones (oh, so proud!!) and sent to the newspaper.

So there you go. As I said before, I'm quite new to this and don't know how to show my pictures to more people. But I'm doing what I can and, hopefully, one day my work can help someone to see and appreciate the beauty of what we have around us.

View more of Tonia's photographs here -

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