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DDB Aotearoa announces winner of inaugural De Ruiter Photography Scholarship

DDB Aotearoa has announced the winners of its inaugural De Ruiter Young Photographer of the Year scholarship with Ava Thomas, a student from Fielding Agricultural High School taking the Grand Prize. 

Selected from 26 finalists by a panel of judges, Ava impressed across multiple categories and demonstrated a mature, unique visual voice. 

Carla Shale, DDB Aotearoa Design Director and judge on the panel says: “We all enjoyed Ava’s completely fresh approach to her subject. The deadpan humour in the winning image also adds something special. Ava’s submissions had a consistent, mature and unique visual voice, seeing them awarded highly commended in the Series category and top-in-category for Animals.

“Noting her experimentation with composition and light to date, we are excited to see what Ava will achieve in future and with her award, which she’s chosen to put towards new camera equipment.”

Launched in February to honour the legacy of beloved colleague Marcel de Ruiter, the scholarship was open to all year 9-13 students across Aotearoa and offered $5,000 towards tertiary institution fees or camera and photography hardware to the same value.

Almost 200 students from across Aotearoa entered over 350 photographs into the scholarship, with the judges blown away by the calibre of their work. 

“The response was really quite remarkable, as were the submissions. It was a privilege for myself and the other judges to get to see the work of so many talented budding photographers and we think Marcel would be very impressed.” 

Submissions were judged by DDB Aotearoa Chief Creative Officer Gary Steele, DDB Aotearoa Design Director Carla Shale, DDB Aotearoa Print Producer Julz Lane and Marcel’s daughter Annemieke de Ruiter, who selected Ava as the overall winner. 

Five other top-in-category winners were also selected to receive a $150 Prezzy card voucher and the finalists on the initial judging shortlist were awarded a scholarship from the non-profit organisation Click Happy.

The five winners and their categories are: Holly Druce, Motueka (Still Life); Eli Armstrong, Palmerston North (Portrait); Danica Walters, Nelson (Landscape); Matthew Chen, Auckland (Urban), and Otis Creagh-Leslie, Auckland (Series). 

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