Photographer of the Year 2022 — Finalists

The finest images of 2022 have been announced. Now is your chance to vote on your favourites.

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From more than 6000 entries, judges have assembled a gallery of 55 images that tell the story of an exceptional year in Aotearoa. Select five of your favourites to vote in the Ockham Residential People’s Choice award!

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nz.andy

Resene Built Environment

Andy MacDonald

For Andy MacDonald, a New Zealand Geographic shoot spurred an “obsession” with Nelson’s historic churches. “I love capturing the vivid colours and historic buildings in the evening light and I just so happened to notice the moon rising over the roof... I find it hard to make a photo of a reasonably well-known building pop.”

mykeyscott

Resene Built Environment

Mike Scott

Early morning light, a single motionless figure, a whorling flock of pigeons: Mike Scott was captivated. “It was only after several minutes of inhuman stillness by the lone figure that I remembered it was a cutout figure attached to the bridge.”

trevordouglas_photography

Resene Built Environment

Trevor Douglas

A bread bag kept Trevor Douglas’s lens and camera dry during this very wet and slippery shoot. Left of the waterfall is the meat processing plant; at right is the defunct paper mill that has become a storage facility for toxic waste from the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter.

itch.nz

Resene Built Environment

James Munro

James Munro had his two girls in the car ready for kindy dropoff when he realised he’d forgotten something. He ducked back inside—and from there he saw the Alps glowing in the sunrise. “I raced downstairs quickly, threw the camera back in the tripod and got this shot.”

de_rood

Resene Built Environment

Danny Rood

On the spur of the moment, on one of his last nights living in Wellington, Danny Rood put the drone up for a final battle with the wind. He was intrigued by the artificial lighting around this construction site.

stephenmilnerphotography

Resene Built Environment

Stephen Milner

Most of the time, the algae Dunaliella salina is green. But in high salt concentrations it abruptly turns pink. That’s a constant at Lake Grassmere, near Blenheim, where sea salt is gleaned from a system of solar ponds. Milner was after an abstract image and drove multiple laps of the lake before deciding a drone was the way to go.

scottysinton

Panasonic Lumix Society

Scott Sinton

Rangi Stevens (left) and Mervyn Pakeha (right) lay down a Matariki hangi. This photograph sprang from a serendipitous meeting on a beach at dawn: Scott Sinton was photographing a sand artist; Stevens took an interest, and wound up inviting him to the hāngi. Sinton turned up knowing no-one and felt welcomed. He says it was a lesson in saying yes to experiences—and uplifting Māori whenever he can.

theryanproject

Panasonic Lumix Society

Ryan Anderson

Manasa Cua prepares to shoot a video for TikTok—he took decades of abuse in Fiji for being gay, but feels comfortable using the social media platform to express his sexuality. Still, it took a lot of meetings and a few failed shoots until Cua was comfortable with behind-the-scenes shots.

rogerhaymanfineartphotographer

Panasonic Lumix Society

Roger Hayman

“The image is of a ‘family’ of skull rings on the hands of a man I saw at a bus stop,” Roger Hayman says. “I asked him for permission to photograph his hands and he held them up for me to do so. I asked him to put them back down on his lap… I rocked very slowly back and forth and took images as the rings came into focus.”

rickywilsonvj

Panasonic Lumix Society

Ricky Wilson

Caluzzi, on Karangahape Road, is one of the longest-running drag queen cabarets in the world. Ricky Wilson photographed these performers getting ready for a dinner theatre show celebrating the cabaret’s 25th anniversary; the low light was difficult to work with but the subjects were a dream he said.

petemeech

Panasonic Lumix Society

Peter Meecham

Local members of the worldwide Star Wars costuming group, the 501st Legion, await the arrival of six-year-old Jonty Clare for a special Make A Wish flight. Racing the setting sun, Peter Meecham set up four portable speed lights and asked the group to quickly get in formation. They were delighted to oblige.

jocelyn.janon

Panasonic Lumix Society

Jocelyn Janon

The subject of Jocelyn Janon's portrait (who asked to remain anonymous) learned they had cancer at almost the same time they learned they were becoming a parent. “On this day I was also photographing their pregnant partner,” says Janon. It was a very emotional shoot.

mykeyscott

Panasonic Lumix Society

Mike Scott

A protester screams in pain after being pepper-sprayed by police during the final day of the Parliament occupation in March. Mike Scott says “it was a long day of violence… a massive breaking and unpredictable news event. The main challenge was staying safe.” While taking this particular photo Scott was shoved, threatened and sworn at, then chased down the street.

project.kahurangi

Auckland Zoo Wildlife

Gareth Cooke

“In a perverse way a diesel spill has some beautiful colours when it lies on water, and capturing those was essential to telling the story,” Gareth Cooke says of this photo. As well as finessing the angle and light to showcase the diesel, getting a close shot of the kororā was difficult—it was in a hard-to-access spot, and Cooke didn’t have a long lens.

tonywhytednz

Auckland ZooWildlife

Tony Whitehead

A pair of weweia / New Zealand dabchick (Poliocephalus rufopectus) feed their chicks with a caddis larva. Keeping the quick-moving, bobbing birds in frame and in focus was a challenge, says Tony Whitehead. For him, “dabchick breeding season is a highlight of the year”.

douglasthornephotography

Auckland Zoo Wildlife

Douglas Thorne

Set up with a wide-angle lens to photograph the sunset, Douglas Thorne noticed a couple of rock wrens bouncing up the rocks towards him. He hid under boulders, glad of his grey puffer jacket which helped with camouflage. “I anticipated the rock wren would fly towards this pointy rock, as they like to land on tall rocky outposts. I only managed to get a few shots before it saw me and flew off.”

simonlucasnz

Auckland Zoo Wildlife

Simon Lucas

This pāteke took its afternoon bath as Simon Lucas was showing off the sanctuary to his grandparents. “I love capturing images at the eye level of the subject. However, the pond was lower than the path, so I had to lie down and awkwardly stretch out the camera, using the screen to frame the shot rather than the viewfinder.”

nick.f_nz

Auckland Zoo Wildlife

Nick Farrelly

Nick Farrelly had never seen a kiwi in the wild before last spring, when he went on a hunting trip with his father and brother. “My weapon of choice was my camera,” he says—and his mission was to shoot a kiwi. He was up at sunrise to photograph this one. It was busy with breakfast and spent most of the time with its head down, sniffing and prodding for food.

andyjacksonphotographer

Auckland Zoo Wildlife

Andy Jackson

“Most evenings around sunset, thousands of starlings make their way from feeding grounds across Taranaki to roost at Motuotamatea Island,” Andy Jackson says. He’s photographed the flock many times, but this sunset was just too tempting: it made him late picking his wife up from work.

fi_tography

Auckland Zoo Wildlife

Fiona Wardle

Fiona Wardle travelled to French Pass four summers in a row to photograph bottlenose dolphins. She was out on the water early, hoping to find a pod she’d seen the evening before. The dolphins turned up all right, but the next challenge was anticipating their jumps—bottlenose dolphins tend to be unpredictable with their acrobatics.

simonbirdphotography

Auckland Zoo Wildlife

Simon Runting

Gannets mate for life. Simon Runting watched for about an hour as this one pecked at and walked around its dead partner. “At times it was doing the dance that gannets do when they return to the nest from being away at sea feeding; lots of head shakes and wing flapping … The bird finally walked away a few metres and then flew off. I was pretty glad to see it leave.”

simonbirdphotography

Auckland Zoo Wildlife

Simon Runting

If you focus on the bird when it shakes, says Simon Runting, the camera will lock focus on the water, not the eye. Solution: you need to focus first, and stop before the droplets take over. This swan helpfully got itself into a beaut position, backlit with a dark background.

simonbirdphotography

Auckland Zoo Wildlife

Simon Runting

“The main issue was getting a pukeko in full profile for a silhouette shot,” says Simon Runting. “These birds never stay still!” There was much running and rolling around—on his part—to get the shot.

simonlucasnz

Auckland Zoo Wildlife

Simon Lucas

This two-metre ngengero/bronze whaler with its entourage of hautere/yellowtail approached Simon Lucas and his partner during a freedive on a deep pinnacle on the western side of the island. The shark swept past three times, the hautere flickering with it, never showing any signs of agitation. Lucas has wanted to photograph this mirroring behaviour since he first saw it two decades ago.

zacvswild

Auckland Zoo Wildlife

Zachary Penman

“I had been trying for four summers to get a good shot of a seven gill,” Zachary Penman says—for him, as a dive instructor, that’s more than 600 dives. These sharks like to stay quite deep, plus they’re shy and will make a close approach only when visibility is very poor. (Penman, determined to photograph a natural encounter, wasn’t using bait.) “Then when the shark finally does come towards you, you have all of 10 seconds to try and compose and get the shot, keep out of its way, and stay relaxed.”

nz.andy

Lightforce Aerial

Andy MacDonald

“Flying a drone and directing kids at the same time is always a challenge,” Andy MacDonald says. This photograph of local teen Kyle Best was taken at a soon-to-be-opened basketball court. MacDonald put the drone up after not getting quite the shot he wanted on the ground. The Stoke Youth Park is opening November 26 and according to NCC and Lee-ann O'Brien Whanake Youth Manager, the youth are looking forward to its official opening.

nz.andy

Lightforce Aerial

Andy MacDonald

“I love flying my drone in really wild conditions,” Andy MacDonald says. “The drones are surprisingly capable and not many people are willing to risk theirs, so I get some fairly unique shots.” The hardest aspect of nailing this shot was predicting where the waves were going to break in relation to the tiny surfer.

emmawillettsprints

Lightforce Aerial

Emma Willetts

No drones for Emma Willetts. “I prefer to be up in the air in a small plane or helicopter. Typically with the doors off or window open!” On previous flights over the quarry the light wasn’t quite right; this shot was taken in the early morning. “I wanted to showcase the human elements (trucks in motion) against the natural aggregates.”

alphapixnz

Lightforce Aerial

John Cowpland

“Kindred cricket” is a slightly more organised form of social cricket and it’s taking off around the country—this game was played on a humid February evening, just above the high-tide mark. Photojournalist John Cowpland shot it for Stuff, and says timing is always the tricky thing with drones: there’s a slight delay after pushing the button.

derekmorrisonphotography

Lightforce Aerial

Derek Morrison

Caleb Cutmore, one of Aotearoa's best competitive surfers, unwinds with a marathon session at a remote break deep in the Catlins. He'd already spent two hours surfing another challenging beach before the tide came right here. The big day and offshore wind pushed the drone too—it was at the limits of its capability, Derek Morrison says.

phibbzy

Lightforce Aerial

Brett Phibbs

Competitors launch into the Swim the Shore race, held at the height of the scorching 2022 summer. By late January, wetsuits, the swimmer at centre evidently decided, were entirely optional.

gasperweber

Lightforce Aerial

Gasper Weber

Repeated blooms of the algae Nodularia spumigena have fouled Te Waihora, making the lake, which is surrounded by farmland, one of the most polluted in the country. The algae can produce toxins that are harmful to people and animals, especially dogs, and flourishes in warm weather—although this photograph of tangata whenua on the lake was taken in August.

cruzerdmann

Resene Landscape

Cruz Erdmann

Cruz Erdmann went for a dive in search of crayfish for dinner but found this spot was barren, “the only life being an eerie canopy of kelp”. This patch of ecklonia kelp forest is growing in murky water with low light—which, he reckons, is probably why it was forced to grow so tall.

saddlebackblack

Resene Landscape

Patrick McLuskie

Driving home to Roxburgh from Cromwell, Patrick McLuskie was faced with this magnificent frontal system evolving towards both the Pisa and Hawkdun ranges. “When darkened the inkiness of the blues and the smokey hues of the sky above the mountains came to life.”

joshua_mccormack

Resene Landscape

Joshua McCormack

Joshua McCormack got the call at the last minute: could he jump on board Haunui, a replica of a waka hourua (double-hulled voyaging canoe) to sail up the coast with Peter Burling, Blair Tuke and other members of Live Ocean? He could—but he was lucky to get his drone back on board in a challenging swell. “Boats and drones don’t mix,” he says.

a_wilson100

Resene Landscape

Alex Wilson

This early-morning shot was completely unplanned. Alex Wilson arrived in dense fog. The next problem was the harakeke. To get a clean shot Wilson had to balance his camera and tripod almost out of reach, on top of the flax—which moved in any breeze or slight touch.

sahasvision

Resene Landscape

Michel-Olivier Serrurier

After a clear sunset, the moon rises above Mitre Peak. “Pure magic,” says Michel-Olivier Serrurier, who was on his first road trip to Milford Sound. The trick was in the exposure: keeping details from the mountain while not overexposing the moon.

wandless

Resene Landscape

Roger Wandless

On the homeward leg of a waterskiing trip, Roger Wandless noticed smoke around Glendhu Bay. “I had a small camera and a half-used battery and a kit lens,” he says, “also a skipper who was open to chasing down the best shot—which involved navigating a cross-wind and sizable chop in the main body of the lake.”

chris_mckeown70

Resene Landscape

Chris McKeown

Shooting in failing light as the sun set, Chris McKeown ventured down to the water’s edge to capture the weight of the massive waves bearing down on Princess Bay. He’d heard there was a seven-metre wave measured off the South Coast and wanted to feel like he was at the eye of the storm. “The power of the sea was incredible,” he says, “the noise and fury exhilarating.”

nz.andy

Leica PhotoStory

Andy MacDonald

Dust is the biggest challenge in shooting at stock car races, Andy MacDonald says. To shoot Megan Dumelow he ended up lugging around two camera bodies—one for the track and the other for the pits. “Morgan stood out because she wasn’t what you typically imagine as a stock car driver, and because she was really good at racing stock cars.”

braden_fastier

Leica PhotoStory

Braden Fastier

On day 23 of the anti-mandate protest at Parliament, protestors clashed with police as they removed tents and camping equipment. They didn’t much like the media, either. Braden Fastier was on assignment for Stuff and recalls, “Getting targeted, beaten up, verbally and physically abused, projectiles being thrown in your direction, tear gas, pepper spray…”

mykeyscott

Leica PhotoStory

Mike Scott

These images are part of a project called Brains Trust, which tells personal—and often confronting—stories of dementia via photography, video documentary and words. Getting access to people with dementia was hard, Mike Scott says—and complicated immensely by COVID, especially given the vulnerability of the people he was working with.

tatsiana_chypsanava

Leica PhotoStory

Tatsiana Chypsanava

Documenting Tūhoe families at the flaxroots level is part of an ongoing personal project for Tatsiana Chypsanava. Here, she photographs the whānau of John Teepa. Like many Tūhoe he spent a few decades in the city, living away from his ancestral land. Returning to his birthplace with his wife and six children, they adopted and raised more than 20 whāngai kids. “This is home,” he says now, to his numerous children and grandchildren.

mcgregor1

Leica PhotoStory

Iain McGregor

Thomas Stacke and Kristina Schutt are intensive care nurses at Christchurch Hospital. For more than a decade they have worked opposite shifts so that one of them can be home for the injured, sick and starving birds they care for in their Riccarton home. They have repurposed a bathroom as an intensive care unit for penguins, and use their garden and paddling pool to restore the birds’ waterproofing.

beckimoss_

Leica PhotoStory

Becki Moss

During the omicron outbreak Becki Moss, who lives with several major chronic illnesses, isolated at her mum's place in Tokoroa. Yet she took pictures all around the country: via an app called Clos, which allows the user to remotely operate the camera on another person's smartphone, while directing them via a video call. Some of the people in these photos are isolating because they have COVID, others are at home because they, like Becki, are at high risk.

rawhitiroa

Leica PhotoStory

Te Rawhitiroa Bosch

Uenukuterangihoka Jefferies and his whānau are joined by tohunga tā moko Te Wehi Preston to apply the traditional markings that connect Jefferies to his home, to his whakapapa, to his purpose in life. The process begins with the pure and tohi (cleansing and dedication in the moana) which is followed by five intensive days of the application of moko.

jayfrench

Leica PhotoStory

Jay French

Jay French and Conor Macfarlane shoot a lot of adventure mountain bike content together and usually spend Aotearoa’s winter in Europe, producing summer content. Winter 2020, obviously, was different—stuck here, the pair found that shooting in winter meant long golden hours for showcasing tricks such as the suicide no-hander (in front of Lake Wānaka) or the one-foot Euro table (as the fog rolls away in Bannockburn). “One thing we'd never had to deal with in shooting mountain biking before though, was the temperature. It was as low as -8º one morning.”

graememurraynz

Adventure South NZ Adventure

Graeme Murray

Zack Mutton, one of the best young kayakers in the world, has popped over the Huka Falls plenty of times in daylight and was 'stoked' on the idea of a night run. Graeme Murray knew he’d only be able to see the kayaker at the very last moment, and that he’d have literally one shot as his flash wouldn’t recharge fast enough.

graememurraynz

Adventure South NZ Adventure

Graeme Murray

A lesson in never leaving the camera at home: Graeme Murray was headed for a sunrise surf when he saw Alex Dive foiling and grabbed his long lens.

henryjaine

Adventure South NZ Adventure

Henry Jaine

Pro freeride mountain bikers David McMillan and Sam Reynolds launch off a newly-built jump. Determined to showcase the scale of the jump, Henry Jaine focused on the angles and lighting—which abruptly became interesting near the end of the shoot, when the sun dropped.

paddy_edmondson

Adventure South NZ Adventure

Paddy Edmondson

As the blue hour faded Paddy Edmondson begged a mate to do one last run. Racing the dark, they shot off up the mountain on a sled and Edmondson slammed his tripod into the snow, set the camera up and took the shot with little time to get settings right. “He flicked his head torch on and we both timed it perfectly, with a 30-second exposure and his perfect 30-second run… I’ve always envisaged an image like this.”

astewart_waiphoto

Adventure South NZ Adventure

Andrew Stewart

In February the Wairarapa was hit by more than 200 millimetres of rain in a couple of days. Ideal conditions for a bit of mud sliding, figured Andrew Stewart’s daughters.

vaughanbrookfield

Adventure South NZ Adventure

Vaughan Brookfield

Evening settles over Little Glory, a coastal block of old bush and a favourite spot for hunting white-tail deer. Vaughan Brookfield and his mates Nick Brown (right) and Jimmy Edward (left) spent hours perched motionless in this tree, waiting for a deer to wander past. None did, so as night settled in Brookfield hopped down to shoot a photo instead.

rod_coffee

Adventure South NZ Adventure

Rod Hill

Kayakers like to play on this rapid, taking turns surfing the whitewater. “This particular photo was spur of the moment but I have been photographing the Kaituna River for a few years now,” Rod Hill says. “It’s turned into a passion.”

jeanluclazet

Adventure South NZ Adventure

Jean-Luc Lazet

The first time Jean-Luc Lazet and his friends tried to rig a highline between the two peaks of Double Cone they were snowed out. On their next attempt, extreme wind made it impossible to get the line across. Third time lucky. “We believe this is one of the highest highlines rigged in the southern hemisphere at just over 2300 metres,” Lazet says.


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