There is an albatross plunging into the sea, a couple kissing at a university toga party, a super-moon shot and some Maori dancing among the finalists of this year’s New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year.
The finalists were announced last night in Christchurch at the launch of a free month-long exhibition, which will be open daily from today until 8 September.
“There are some exceptionally talented photographers represented in this competition,” says Christchurch mayor Bob Parker, adding that “the images are inspirational and make you stop and reflect on what a remarkable place this country is”. “I encourage people to make the effort to experience the exhibition.”
A total of 39 finalist images and stories were whittled down from 3300 entries, the largest number ever received in the competition across four categories; Society and Culture, Wildlife, Landscape and Photo Story.
“I think this is partly due to a step change in quality and affordability of ‘pro-sumer’ level equipment, allowing many more amateurs to shoot images of pro-tech quality,” says New Zealand Geographic editor and convenor of judges, James Frankham. “While professional photographers were well presented among the finalists, around half of the finalists were amateurs, particularly in the Society and Culture, Landscape and Wildlife categories.”
When it came to the Photo Story category however, all four finalists are professional photographers. Says Frankham, “Photo Story is easily the the most difficult discipline for a photographer to master, as the chosen images need to communicate an extra dimension of narrative.” The finalist photo stories include the Turtle Rehabilitation program at Kelly Tarltons, Tuhoe’s kapa haka culture, the Oamaru Victorian Heritage festival, and life aboard a fishing trawler in Cook Strait.
The judges panel includes internationally recognised photographers Andris Apse, Arno Gasteiger, Kim Westerskov, as well as Frankham.
“Interestingly, almost all the finalist images in the wildlife category depict the marine environment, which hasn’t been the case in previous years. With 96 per cent of our exclusive economic zone under water, it’s good to see photographers revelling in the new realm,” says the editor.
The public is invited to put themselves in the judging chair and vote for their favourite image on the magazine's website. The winner of the public vote will receive the People’s Choice Award when the category winners of the competition are announced in late October.
Winners of each category receive $1000 cash, publication in New Zealand Geographic and other prizes. The overall New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year 2013 will receive a further $1000 cash and a berth on board a Heritage Expeditions voyage on assignment for New Zealand Geographic magazine. The Young Photographer of the Year 2013 will receive a special mentoring and a workshop with wildlife photographer and judge, Kim Westerskov.
Winners will be announced in late October when the free exhibition moves to Auckland’s Viaduct Basin.