Last night, the rain didn’t stop the New Zealand Geographic team from distributing the awards for the Photographer of the Year competition. This is, after all, an annual event celebrating a group of people who during their careers have grown accustomed to weathering the elements—and a bit of water falling from the heavens didn’t seem to bug anyone in attendance.
This year there were more than 5,800 entries, which the judges eventually whittled down to 28 finalists.
Hosted by New Zealand Geographic publisher and convener of judges James Frankham at Wynyard Quarter, the event saw some of the most talented photographers—both young and old—in the industry gather for an evening of drinks, dinner and applause.
This year, the supreme award went to photographer Jason Hosking for a diverse portfolio that included sheep in the meat industry, fruit-pickers harvesting grapefruit, a view of Muriwai gannet colony, and a wakeboarder weaving down a river.
On the night, Farkham spoke of how Hosking built a drone and mounted a camera on it in an effort to gain a different photographic perspective.
“The aerial images complement his regular documentary work in a compelling way,” said Frankham. “It adds unexpected and artful interpretations on the world below.”
And while the imagery captured from this makeshift contraption certainly added depth to the portfolio, one of Hosking’s most memorable shots was that of a powerful wave rolling into Cape Palliser in the Wairarapa (this shot was also runner-up in the Landscape category).
Accumulating over 30,000 votes, the Timelapse category (introduced this year) was one of the most popular of the night and served up this year’s People’s Choice Winner, Mark Gee, whose shot of the moon from over 2 km away proved a fan favourite.
However, Gee did not win the Timelapse category. This accolade went to Jordan Poste, who spent a ridiculous amount of time in a cave to capture the glowworm experience.
“The commitment shown in the Timelapse entries is mind-blowing,” says Frankham. “Photographers lay in sleeping bags beside their cameras, monitoring the output every few minutes throughout the night—category winner, Jordan Poste, spent 40 hours in a glow-worm cave for a single two-minute clip.”
Poste wasn’t even the maddest among the cave-dwelling photographers. This unofficial title went to young photographer Neil Silverwood (runner-up in the Photo Story category), who spent approximately a week in a cave to capture his series of shots (below).
The winner in the Photo Story category was Peter Meecham, whose coverage of the Miss Universe concert captured moments far removed from the glitz and glam that usually typifies the event (see below).
Other winners included Susan Blick’s stunning monochrome image of Rangitoto at dawn seen from the North Shore, a chilling image of a blue shark emerging from the water near Little Barrier Island by Richie Robinson and David White’s young girl making a pūkana face in the Urewera (below).
The event is also about celebrating the emerging talent in the industry, and this year’s Young Photographer award went to 18-year-old Ricky Wilson, whose standout snap was of a young boy being hosed down after a mud run in Havelock (below).
And Iain McGregor won the Colour Award with his image of a ‘Color Run’ after-party in Christchurch (below).
Viewed together, these photographs provided a cross-section of Kiwi society, sometimes eliciting joy but also challenging our perspectives on life in the country.
As Frankham said: “More than technical prowess, these photographs share an original perspective. They provide an insight into the fabric of our country and society that tells us something new about what it is to be a New Zealander or live in New Zealand. Each image trades on the access that the photographer gained, the moment they captured, and their unique contribution as an artist. Some of the images are universally delightful, others have proved controversial, but all of them elicit a response, whether that’s charm, awe or horror.”
Full list of winners:
Jason Hosking — New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year 2015 – winner
Mark Gee — People’s Choice winner
Ricky Wilson — Young Photographer of the Year – winner
Iain McGregor — Colour Award winner
Susan Blick — Landscape winner
Jason Hosking — Landscape runner-up
Peter Meecham — PhotoStory winner
Neil Silverwood — Photo Story – runner-up
Richie Robinson — Wildlife winner
Richard Sidey — Wildlife runner-up
David White — Society& Culture winner
Ricky Wilson — Society& Culture runner-up
Jordan Poste — Timelapse winner