Photographers unite to support one of their own

KAROLINE TUCKEY
Last updated 11:07 26/11/2012
phil jacobs
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PHIL JACOBS: A well-known camera repairman who many working photographers will be familiar with.

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Wellington’s photographic community is uniting in support of a benefit auction for a man who photographers say could almost do the impossible.

Phil Jacobs has been a camera repair technician for more than 40 years, working from Victoria St in Wellington, and for the last 15 years from a Petone workshop connected to his home.

He earned a role as the beloved go-to guy for photographers hoping to bring back to life precious pieces of equipment that would have otherwise been costly or unlikely to be able to be fixed.

However, faced with a sudden terminal illness, Mr Jacobs is unable to continue working.

But the photography community is rallying together, and is hosting a benefit auction for Mr Jacobs.

Friend and client James Gilberd says Mr Jacobs support and expertise has been a huge benefit to the Wellington photographic community, and many photographers have offered work for an auction to benefit Phil and his family.

“Phil has done a lot for us over the years ... almost every photographer in the city has used his services at some time or another, and in an indirect but important way he has made a significant contribution to photography as an art form, a business, and a means of personal and social expression.”

Consultations were often accompanied with a cup of coffee and a chat at the workshop, Mr Gilberd says.

“He'd show you something he'd just engineered for someone - some part he'd made for a camera that you just couldn't get.”

"It'd be something he'd made up on the lathe for a camera that just would not work unless Phil built the part.

"And he'd show you these things ... I think he really enjoyed almost achieving the impossible, doing something that you'd think could not be done, bringing something back into working life again and nuggeting it out to do some miraculous piece of repair work that really no-one else could do."

Mr Jacobs passion for the equipment he worked with was well respected.

"He's just always full of enthusiasm and immersed in what he did and he was very good at it," Mr Gilberd says.

"It's hard to get anything like that, and now if you need something fixed it often has to go back to Japan or Australia for repair, we've lost that sort of local person that could fix it".

The Phil Jacobs Benefit Auction will be held in Wellington on Friday November 30, with viewing open from Monday November 26.

“We've got a very wide range of things, from landscapes on canvas through to high art and something for everybody," Mr Gilberd says.

“Some of the best photographers in New Zealand are contributing ... Anne Noble, Ans Westra, and other top New Zealand photographers right across the range - there's some really nice art work going in."

The auction would be the ideal entry point for those who had never bought photography as a piece of artwork before, he says.

“We want to sell work, so there's a range of prices. And we really need people to show up to buy things."

- Viewing will be open from 5pm on Monday November 26 at Photospace Gallery, 1/37 Courtenay Pl, Wellington, and be open until 4pm Thursday. The auction event on November 30 will open at 6pm and start at 7pm, at The Pit at Te Ara Hihiko, Massey University's new art and design school building on Tasman St.

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Master technician: Phil Jacobs in his Petone camera repair workshop in 2005, by Eastbourne photographer Simon Hoyle.

- Hutt News

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