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By Martyn• 26 Nov 2015
Located at 286 Lambton Quay, Photography by Woolf is perhaps the most recognisable photographic studio in Wellington. Originally established by Spencer Digby in 1934, the business was purchased by the Woolf family in 1960. Having thrived under the direction of Ronald and Inge Woolf, these days Simon Woolf and a team of experienced professionals continue its photographic legacy.
With well over half a century's experience developing their photography technique, knowledge and skill, Photography by Woolf holds numerous national and international awards and accolades including the record for most Kodak Gold Awards, and the distinction of having produced more Photographic Society of New Zealand Youth Award winners than any other studio.
Specialising in portraiture and landscapes, they've shot several generations of wedding, event, childhood, family and pregnancy photos, as well as professional profiles and style shots. Photography by Woolf also offers considered framing and restoration services, in the process, helping turn the right shot into a special family keepsake, or perhaps bringing new life to those historical shots. To give you a sense of what they're capable of, look through the set of Photography By Woolf images displayed throughout this blog entry.
As iconic as they are, Photography by Woolf are no isolated monolith, and very much exist within and in relationship to the wider Wellington community. It was with this spirit in mind that I met up with Woolf's head of marketing and social media Sylvie Poupard-Gould in late November. With a background in new media cultivated through working for advertising agencies in Europe, in recent years she's been focused on setting up and running websites and social media for businesses, making her a perfect addition to the Woolf team as they enter the age of Instagram.
I think what makes a place is the people working there and the service you get.
Word On The Street: You're going out for breakfast or lunch. Where do you go?
Sylvie Poupard-Gould: Astoria café in Midland Park is my spot for scrambled eggs and breakfast meetings. They've been there for a long time, and they're consistently good when it comes to their food and coffee. They were innovative with their décor when they first started, and they haven't felt the need to change because everyone loves it just how it is. The atmosphere is really buzzing, not in an edgy way, but in a nice communal way. I think what makes a place is the people working there and the service you get. They remember your name and what you want to order. Being French, my favourite place in the world for pastries is Louis Sergeant Sweet Couture. They make the best almond Croissants in the country and their cakes are to die for. The coffee is great too.
Word On The Street: You're headed out for some drinks in the evening. Where do you go?
Sylvie Poupard-Gould: Places like The Library [bar on Courtney Place] are fantastic. I love all the edgy little laneway bars and jazz spots that are out of the way, and you have to find them. I go to places like Meow for live music. I have a family, and I don't get out a lot, so it's exciting to find these places that have a bit of graffiti on the wall and are hidden away.
It's all about finding that niche, that small designer who is going to be timeless. I'm not about trends.
Word On The Street: You feel like going shopping. Where do you go?
Sylvie Poupard-Gould: For shoes? I'm a big fan of I Love Paris. I also really love Trelise Cooper for clothes, which is maybe a reflection of my age. Gregory stocks some great New Zealand designers, Zambesi is great as well. I'm always trying to find that New Zealand designer who is going to come out and be really out there. There is a lady we really loved named Sophia Aroha. She had a brand called Good Faith Clothing, and she does amazing things. It's all about finding that niche, that small designer who is going to be timeless. I'm not about trends.
Word On The Street: You've got friends visiting and they want to check out an art gallery or museum. Where do you go?
Sylvie Poupard-Gould: Wellington's City Gallery [in Civic Square]! They recently had a wonderful exhibition from Fiona Pardington, which was unbelievable. When they bring things like the 'Demented Architecture' to Wellington, it's just insane. Stuff like that appeals to all age groups. It's the sort of thing you can just go back to weekend after weekend. We went there at least three or four times. I think Wellington really has that creativity about what it brings in terms of art. You have The NZ Festival coming up as well which is really exciting, and, of course, W.O.W [World of Wearable Art]. Every year I try to get to W.O.W. I think you can never really get tired of W.O.W, because there is so much creativity and [as an event] it's really about putting Wellington on the map.
That's the thing about Wellington on a beautiful day; there is nothing better!
Word On The Street: It’s the weekend and you want to do a family activity. Where do you go?
Sylvie Poupard-Gould: Down to the waterfront! My son does rowing, and we just discovered Karaka Café in the Te Wharewaka Tapaere building. You can sit there on beanbags looking out on the lagoon. You've got the waterfront, you've got your little glass of wine, and if it's sunny, it's just the perfect place to sit because you can see the world passing by. Everyone just looks so relaxed going about their business. It's just a beautiful. That's the thing about Wellington on a beautiful day; there is nothing better!