Capturing the moment

posted: 8:00 am - 30th August 2018
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Abe Mora’s (pictured) camera has become his passport to a world he never knew existed.   

The New Zealand-born Abe, of Cook Islands descent never once dreamt he would be travelling the world as a photographer to the rich and famous, considering his humble upbringing.   

In the past two years, the 30-year-old creative has been presented with some incredible opportunities, which he has grasped wholeheartedly. 

“I’ve been blessed to have had opportunities such as being invited by Parris Goebel and the Royal Family to join their world tour to 14 countries,” Abe says. 

“Filming pop group TLC as part of a documentary was another blessed moment, as was traveling to over 30 countries with my camera, half of those destinations visited more than once.” 

Other highlights in Abe’s career to date include working on the set of international artist Ciara for her music video “Level up”; being involved in countless music video shoots with Director Shae Sterling; and being able to talk to youth about his journey and realising they see his story as inspirational.   

Born in Palmerston North, Abe and his three siblings were raised in Awatapu, Whakatane. 

Abe’s family spent their first year in Whakatane living in a small three bedroom State home, along with his mother’s brother and his family of five. 

“My siblings and I would catch the bus to Ruatoki with our cousins where I went to Kohanga in a full emersion Māori school.  

“The following year my mother was able to get in to her own State home,” Abe adds. 

After attending Trident High School in Whakatane, Abe began a flooring apprenticeship and became a qualified tradesman, however, it has always been with the Arts and in particular, photography, where his passions truly lay. 

“My brother was actually the artist of the family and from a young age, he would be illustrating books and winning art competitions, so you could say I was exposed to creativity from a young age. 

“However, it was skateboarding which kick-started my love for photography.” 

At 12 years old, Abe became hooked on skateboarding, although his family could not afford to buy him one. 

“Any chance I had to skate I would take it, and because I was so passionate about it, I naturally wanted to document this with a camera - like every skater wanted to when they learn a new trick, and so I guess that’s how my passion for photography and film came about.” 

In the creative world, inspiration is crucial, and most of Abe’s inspiration is spiritual, he says. 

“I was raised to be spiritually aware so when I look for inspiration, I only need to look for the things that make me feel, rather than think.  

“The more time I spend in the creative industry, the more I realise the titles we seek to achieve are temporary because what inspires me today may not tomorrow - which is the fun part of being creative. 

“But one inspiration for me that has never changed is my mother. 

“For you to not only survive, but thrive in a path that is not clear to you, it is important to have and know your why, and my why has always been my mother.” 

When he considers the sacrifices his mother made as a single mum to raise him and his siblings, along with where he came from and where he is today, Abe is seriously grateful. 

This spurs him on to do his best in every situation. 

“I have had opportunities to photograph celebrities and landscapes all over the world. 

“Most times I find it quite intimidating to be behind the camera because of the expectations involved, yet those fears drive me every time I take a photo and inspires me to perfect my art. 

“I aim to hopefully achieve perfection by any given point in my life and the unpredictable nature of capturing a photo is enough to keep the passion growing for me.” 

Giving back is important to Abe, and he says what he wants to pass on, is that it is OK to try and do the things you love. 

“I also want to shift the current mentality from living for the weekend and there is security in playing it safe. 

“I believe we are a blessed land regardless of the struggles we face … the battles we face are ghosted, and usually in the mind and spirit, or behind closed doors.” 

Abe has always been passionate about the wellbeing of Pacific and Māori youth, and believes all they need are positive figures to look up to. 

“I aim to be that figure for someone that wishes to start their own legacy, and hopefully I can show and guide them down a path I also had to discover.” 

Check out Abe’s work HERE.