Photographer of the Year 2019 — Winners

Winning visions of New Zealand’s environment and society.

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Of the 3000 entrants, there were 51 finalists, and just nine winners across five categories, plus awards for the Young Photographer of the Year, the Resene Colour Award, the Lumix People’s Choice award and the overall Nikon Photographer of the Year. These are the finest frames of 2019.

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robsuisted

Winner—Nikon Photographer of the Year

Rob Suisted

Lesser short-tailed bats are small, fast, unpredictable and mean. In order to photograph them, Rob Suisted spent a year in development, putting together gear that could capture the bats in motion—including lasers. After discovering that the bats did not fly in the direction he anticipated, he was forced to spend several long nights shooting at Pureora Forest Park, fine-tuning his set-up.

robsuisted

Winner—Nikon Photographer of the Year

Rob Suisted

Photography is often about timing. Photographer Rob Suisted had left Wellington early to catch the morning light over farmland in Horowhenua. The angle of the sun made the lush grass luminescent, but also wreaked havoc with the small lens on the drone. “The closer I could get to the sun destroying the image, the more powerful the effect was, so it was a fine line,” he says.

robsuisted

Winner—Nikon Photographer of the Year

Rob Suisted

After wheat and ryegrass seeds are harvested on the Canterbury Plains, the stubble is burned off in order to prepare the land for the next planting. This removes roughage that gets in the way of germinating seeds. Rob Suisted got his drone in the air at short notice: it takes only minutes for a field to erupt and burn.

leecook_images

Winner—Lumix Peoples Choice

Lee Cook

It took around 18 months of planning for this image to come to fruition—a lone figure on the Tasman Glacier in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. An LED torch lights the details and formations of the cave system. Cook consulted with ice-cave guides about the cave system, then camped on a glacier with a partner and squeezed into a cave through a moulin, camera gear in tow.

rachelmataira

Winner—Young Photographer of the Year

Rachel Mataira

While sailing around the North Island over the summer on a 34-foot boat, Rachel Mataira set about capturing the coastline from the sea. Flying a drone from a boat is a challenge—it must be flown manually as the motion of the boat makes its “home” location redundant. During this flight, the drone signal cut out partway through, but Mataira managed to fly it back on little battery: “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the incredible spot our little sail boat was in.”

Winner—Resene Colour Award

David Wall

Once, David Wall photographed this scene on film, and he had long wanted to re-shoot it with a digital camera. His drone wasn’t an option, as these aren’t allowed in the airspace over Waiotapu’s Champagne Pool. So he booked a helicopter instead. Altitude restrictions meant Wall had to choose a long lens for his close-up of the pool’s shapes, requiring careful attention to the stability of the shot.

sam._.lewis

Winner—Aerial

Sam Lewis

The final stages of the salt concentration process are visible from above at the Lake Grassmere Salt Ponds. Sam Lewis was on his first road trip through the South Island when he noticed a giant, colourful lake off to the side of the road, and captured a cross-section of the salt-making process. Strong winds made for a tricky shot—the salt works is located here because the wind helps with the evaporation process.

petraleary

Runner-Up—Aerial

Petra Leary

For two months of the year, Alphra Lavender’s fields bloom purple. Petra Leary and her friend Marie Valencia, pictured, stopped off at the Te Awamutu lavender farm on a spur-of-the-moment road trip through the Waikato. Leary shoots primarily from above, and usually focuses on geometrical forms in the built environment. This is a softer take on the same themes.

robsuisted

Highly Commended—Aerial

Rob Suisted

After wheat and ryegrass seeds are harvested on the Canterbury Plains, the stubble is burned off in order to prepare the land for the next planting. This removes roughage that gets in the way of germinating seeds. Rob Suisted got his drone in the air at short notice: it takes only minutes for a field to erupt and burn.

shadowandshadenz

Highly Commended—Aerial

Larryn Rae

Glacial river water flowing into Lake Pukaki is a pale, ice-blue colour due to the minerals suspended within it. The river separates into thick braids over the floodplain at the headwaters of the lake. Larryn Rae has long wanted to capture glacial river braids, and awaited the right light to photograph them from above.

andyjacksonphotographer

Highly Commended—Aerial

Andy Jackson

Pro surfer Paige Hareb celebrated International Surfing Day at home on the Taranaki coastline, where she invited others into the waves she learned to surf on. Andy Jackson heard in advance what Hareb was planning and envisaged this exact shot, capturing it just as the surfers finished linking hands.

robsuisted

Winner—Electric Kiwi Wildlife

Rob Suisted

Lesser short-tailed bats are small, fast, unpredictable and mean. In order to photograph them, Rob Suisted spent a year in development, putting together gear that could capture the bats in motion—including lasers. After discovering that the bats did not fly in the direction he anticipated, he was forced to spend several long nights shooting at Pureora Forest Park, fine-tuning his set-up.

Runner-Up—Electric Kiwi Wildlife

Ken Joblin

After discovering a pair of nesting kingfishers on a creek bank in Canterbury, Ken Joblin returned every day for several weeks to photograph them. They caught a variety of prey—stick insects, flies, bees, moths, skinks, small fish, and one day, the mouse in this image—then killed them by striking their heads on branches. The prey was flown to the mouth of the nest, transferred to the other parent kingfisher, and then to the chicks within.

nz.andy

Highly Commended—Electric Kiwi Wildlife

Andrew MacDonald

Above Takapourewa or Stephens Island, at the tip of the Marlborough Sounds, the night sky is filled with thousands of fairy prions circling after dark. Meanwhile, a conservation worker lights their way home. This was a spur-of-the-moment capture; Andrew MacDonald used his backpack as a tripod and had only a few minutes to frame the shot before his colleague walked out of sight.

Highly Commended—Electric Kiwi Wildlife

Kimball Chen

It took Kimball Chen 20 trips to the Catlins coast before photographing the image of a sealion that he envisaged: capturing their liveliness and agility in the underwater environment. Many underwater encounters yielded this image of a curious sea lion pup inviting play by snapping its teeth, then darting away. Chen composed an image angled upwards, to capture the blue sky behind the surface of the water.

kirkhargreavesphotographer

Winner—Society

Kirk Hargreaves

The day after the Christchurch massacre, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern met Muslim community representatives gathered in a small classroom at a decommissioned school. It was so full photographer Kirk Hargreaves couldn’t get in. After a few minutes watching through a window, he saw Ardern’s face framed between the reflections of trees and flowers, and squeezed the shutter. The picture went around the world.

lola.photography

Runner-Up—Society

Lola Gosling

At nine years old, Jess Quinn fell and broke her femur. When it didn’t heal, a tumour was discovered within it, and when chemotherapy didn’t halt the cancer, her leg was amputated. Now in her late 20s, Quinn is a social media influencer spreading messages of positivity and body acceptance: her underwater handstand on a summer dawn at Takapuna Beach captures her perspective on life.

bensanfordmedia

Highly Commended—Society

Ben Sanford

Doug Hollinger climbs a serac arch on Tasman Glacier, the morning after a failed attempt on the east face of Mt Walter—unstable ice had made climbing too unsafe to continue. Seracs are columns of ice usually formed when cracks or crevasses intersect, and can be dangerous obstacles for climbers due to the risk of them toppling.

dominicozapata

Highly Commended—Society

Dominico Zapata

On the banks of the Waikato River in Hamilton, young people do ‘bombs’ or ‘manus’ off the jetty. The river runs through the heart of the city, and becomes a focal point in summer for locals looking to cool off. This image is part of a series Dominico Zapata has made showing the connection that Waikato locals have to their river, and investigating the river’s water quality and health.

ryan_domenico

Winner—Resene Landscape

Ryan De Dominicis

The south face of Aoraki/Mt Cook glows in the setting sun on an autumn evening. Ryan De Dominicis was photographing a couple at Kea Point in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park when he noticed the high cloud that likely meant a spectacular sunset. Just after the sun dipped below the horizon, he made a portrait of the mountain’s glacier-scarred south face.

nathan.secker_photo

Runner-Up—Resene Landscape

Nathan Secker

A storm coming in over Crooked Arm in Doubtful Sound blows the waterfall sideways and backward from whence it came. Nathan Secker is documenting Doubtful Sound as part of an ongoing project for a photography book. On his day, it was an achievement just to keep his camera dry on the wildly pitching boat.

blue_polaris

Highly Commended—Resene Landscape

Zhi Yuen Yap

After a late winter storm, Tongariro National Park’s South Crater was covered in new snow and lingering clouds when two groups—hikers and backcountry skiers—crossed the scene. Tongariro is named for the cold south wind that chilled the tohunga Ngātoro-i-rangi; Zhi Yuen Yap is interested in documenting the effects of the south wind in his photographs of the place.

brendangully

Highly Commended—Resene Landscape

Brendan Gully

When Kiwi space company Rocket Lab announced its first launch from Mahia Peninsula, Brendan Gully began planning this picture. He studied how other photographers captured rocket launches overseas, pre-visualised the rocket’s trajectory using the online tool called flightclub.io, and decided to photograph it from Castlepoint, 230 kilometres away. The weather complied and it all came together, at 00:12am.

tatsiana_chypsanava

Winner—Progear PhotoStory

Tatsiana Chypsanava

Long summer days in the upper reaches of the Ruatoki Valley involve daily trips to the swimming hole and kids roaming the family dairy farm. Tatsiana Chypsanava and her 12-year-old daughter visit their adopted family, the Teepa whānau, every year, and Chypsanava seeks to document the minutiae of childhood life as the kids grow up.

Runner-Up—Progear PhotoStory

Joseph Johnson

From the day of the Christchurch massacre onwards, Joseph Johnson captured the public reaction and processing of the tragedy. “It was thrust on us all in Christchurch, yet again, as we were forced to deal with trauma and tragedy that brought us all together to help one another,” he says. “The days and weeks that followed were filled with a massive amount of grieving, loss, reflection and hope.”

gibbo3472

Highly Commended—Progear PhotoStory

Alan Gibson

The Dean Cup is true grassroots rugby, involving teams from three rural clubs in eastern Taranaki: Toko, Strathmore and Whangamomona. First contested in 1907, the Cup is thought to be the oldest rugby championship still played for in New Zealand. Alan Gibson photographed and filmed the 2018 contest for a New Zealand Herald multimedia story.


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