Jae Frew’s Manu Koingo series that first debuted at Parnell Gallery in 2023, presents engaging, large-scale portraits of the nocturnal ruru, the majestic kea and kārearea, alongside kōkako, kōtare, a huia pair, and a rare white tūī. Frew photographed a number of his avian subjects for the exhibition with the iconic Swedish Hasselblad camera. The hands-on photographer brought together components sourced from around the globe to construct his own Hasselblad, bringing another personalised element to his process.



Hasselblad, a leading manufacturer of premium medium format cameras known for their high-resolution images, perfectly suits Frew’s preference for larger-than-life portraits. Founded by Victor Hasselblad, the brand’s history traces back to military camera production, evolving into consumer-focused designs. When an intact German aerial surveillance camera was recovered on Swedish soil, it was taken to Victor, already well known in photography circles for his technical know-how, to reproduce and enhance. The resulting camera was the first unit produced by the company between 1941 and 43.

However Victor always had his eyes on a top-quality consumer camera that would fit in your hand, The Hasselblad 500 series, starting with the revolutionary 500C, the first of which was released to the market in 1957, stands as an icon in photographic history to this day. This series, representing the pinnacle of Victor’s V System, features a leaf shutter design and high-quality Carl Zeiss lenses.

Notably, the 500C gained fame when astronaut Walter Schirra used it to document space during the Mercury rocket mission in 1962, marking it as the first camera to do so. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, countless iconic images were captured with Hasselblad 500 cameras, from The Beatles on Abbey Road to portraits of Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, and Hollywood legends like Audrey Hepburn and James Dean.

With a purist approach, Frew sought to blend old and new technology for an upcoming exhibition. Acquiring a 25-year-old Hasselblad camera body last year, Frew meticulously assembled the rest of the camera, including lenses, film backs, and prism finders, to fulfil his artistic vision.


Additional links:

View all Jae Frew’s works by clicking here

To read more about the iconic cameras and colourful history of Hasselblad, please click here