Raglan photographer Jwan Milek has been a bit of a gypsy, but says his new gallery on Wainui Road will settle him down a bit.
Milek Photogaphy’s new gallery opened recently, displaying Jwan’s iconic surfing and ocean shots along with a few other pieces of Raglan art.
Jwan has been going back and forth between his native Australia and Raglan for more than 40 years, while developing his career as a photographer and raising a family. But he kept coming back here.
“I love surfing left-hand breaks when I surf,” Jwan explained. “Raglan’s just like a magnet – it always drags me back.”
It was not only the surf and his love of ocean photography that brought him back. Both his two adult daughters – Kylie, owner of the Let’s Grow daycare centre, and Cheri, who helps in the gallery – are currently based in Raglan.
Having a gallery was also on Jwan’s bucket list. “Now that I’ve got a gallery, that’s settled me down a bit,” he added.
But the plan was to not spend all his time in the gallery, but to do what he really loves, to get out and take new photos. “That’s what inspires me, just to get something different every time.”
Many of his photographs – most of which were of Raglan – go overseas to places such as Germany, Australia and the United States, and the online component of his business is growing.
“It doesn’t have to be Raglan [photos] that people buy, it’s just something that captures the eye. But most people want a picture of Raglan,” he said of his customers.
Jwan is also doing some commercial and fashion photography, weddings, portraits and other photography work, plus a bit of plastering during quiet times.
It was plastering that was his main source of income in Raglan when his children were young, as creative photography alone could not support the family.
He got “the photo addiction” at the age of about 20 in Wollongong, Australia when he got a job in a photo processing shop, and was free to use the shop’s equipment and darkroom.
“That’s what hooked me – seeing what would come up in the darkroom. I had to go out and take another picture so I could see what would come up.”
Later, while living in Raglan he did a photojournalist course in Hamilton and got a job with a professional photographer Bill Limberg, learning to do different types of photography.
“But I still wanted to come out to Raglan and take photos of the surfing and the ocean. Ocean photography is my thing.”
He has always sold his work at markets and through local shops and will continue to do so.