Photographers band together to help co-worker

21:50, Nov 29 2012
phil jacobs
PHIL JACOBS: A well-known camera repairman who many working photographers will be familiar with.

Wellington artists have eagerly offered for their work to go under the hammer this week for a much admired co-worker and all-round nice guy.

Several photographers have been hard at work organising a benefit auction for camera repair technician Phil Jacobs, now seriously ill with cancer. Mr Jacobs has worked with local photographers for more than 40 years.

Auction organiser James Gilberd says he is thrilled with the support from Wellington's photographic community for the auction - and that he has received far too many works to auction at Friday's event.

“The response has been incredibly good. It's just snowballed,” says Mr Gilberd, who owns Photospace Gallery on Courtenay Place.

“We've had a much larger number of donations than expected. We've got over 100 lots from maybe 70 people.

“We won't be able to auction all of them live, so we'll only be doing 50 to 60 lots on the night.”


The rest of the works will be put on Trademe following the live auction.

The idea to auction works for Mr Jacobs came to Mr Gilberd and his fellow photographers after they heard his health had taken a turn for the worse.

Mr Gilberd says he met Mr Jacobs in 1985 at his shop in the Cubacade when his camera equipment needed repairs.

“He fixed my camera right away.

“Phil always had time for people. He liked to have a good chat and a cup of coffee with his customers. However busy he was, you were always important. You'd always have his full attention.”

He says now that Mr Jacobs can no longer work, he has left a gap in the photographic community that will be hard to fill.

“He was always fired up with enthusiasm. And he'd hand-build his own camera parts - stuff that no-one else could do.

“He was a central character in the photography community, and one of the people [a photographer needs] to function. His personality and skills will be greatly missed.”

Photographer and organiser Mark Beehre says there has been a huge diversity of works donated, ranging from pieces by emerging artists to high-profile New Zealand photographers, such as Ans Westra.

He also says he was moved by the amount of people who volunteered their time and skills to ensure the auction runs smoothly.

“We have an excellent team of volunteers. People have been very keen to help out,” says Mr Beehre, who has worked with Mr Jacobs since 2002.

“We've got someone to do cataloguing, someone helping with accountancy, we've got a project manager for the whole thing, and Massey University provided the venue.”

Mr Jacobs' sister, Fran, says she is “blown away” by the support of the photographic community and by the number of donated works.

“It's amazing. This is not just a business - these are his friends,” says Ms Jacobs, who will be representing her brother at the auction.

She describes her brother as a tireless worker, with a real love of his craft.

“He was always in his workshop. It was his haven. He could work on a camera for days.”

The auction will be held on Friday, November 30, at Te Ara Hihiko, Massey University's new art and design school building on Tasman St, beginning at 6pm.

The Wellingtonian