Winners of New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year 2016 announced

Volunteer firefighter by   Iain McGregor - Photographer of the Year 2016

Volunteer firefighter by Iain McGregor - Photographer of the Year 2016

Friday, October 28 - New Zealand’s most prestigious photography prize, New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year, was last night claimed by Christchurch photojournalist Iain McGregor.
The competition celebrates New Zealand’s best editorial photography across six categories: Society & Culture, Wildlife, Landscape, Photo Story, Timelapse and—new in 2016—the Aerial category.
Iain McGregor’s winning portfolio leads the viewer through subjects as diverse as the bush fires that raged through Canterbury last summer, burn-outs in muscle cars, a kapa haka festival, Prince Harry playfully engaging with a toddler, and tourists dwarfed by Fox Glacier, even as the glacier retreats from view.
“The range and quality of his work are extraordinary. There’s also a really compassionate thread that tells a story about the shared values of New Zealanders,” says James Frankham, New Zealand Geographic editor and convenor of judges.
“His images are disarming. They make you rethink your values, confront your prejudices, or connect with people in circumstances very different from your own. This is what makes photojournalism so engaging, and it’s at work every time Iain releases his shutter.”
The 2016 competition was a hotly contested field, with 47 finalists—the most in the competition’s history—selected from 3500 entries. Six category winners were also honoured last night, and three special prizes awarded.
These winners are testament to the lengths photographers will go to in order to get the shot. Shaun Jeffers won the Landscape category for an image made in near-total darkness at the deepest point of a Waitomo cave, a long exposure that captures the faint light of glow worms. The Timelapse winner, Hamish Wright, wasn’t able to attend the ceremony, but called in from his post at the geographic South Pole, where earlier in the winter he had made an impressive video of the aurora australis.
The People’s Choice award was a runaway winner. Murray McCulloch’s close-up of water droplets on a wasp gained more than double the votes of its closest competitor. McCulloch used a technique called ‘focus stacking’ to render every hair of the wasp in perfect detail.
Talman Madsen took home the Young Photographer of the Year award for his aerial shot of larches near Lake Tekapo, the treetops taking on an unfamiliar texture when seen from above.
"The Aerial category highlights everything that is important about the Photographer of the Year,” says Frankham. “It’s all about seeing New Zealand from a unique perspective—be that high above a landscape, or deep inside a community."

Photographer of the Year Iain McGregor

Young Photographer of the Year Talman Madsen

People’s Choice Murray McCulloch

Colour Award Quentin Bennett

Wildlife Crispin Middleton

Landscape Shaun Jeffers

Society & Culture Mark Taylor

Photo Story Iain McGregor

Timelapse Hamish Wright

Aerial Richard Sidey

Quick facts:

  • The Auckland exhibition of all the winners and finalists continues until November 6 (10am-5pm) at Karanga Plaza, opposite Viaduct Events Centre.
  • The exhibition features all 47 finalists in six categories, as well as some of the best work from previous years of the contest. It is the largest Photographer of the Year exhibition ever staged.
  • Categories are Landscape, Wildlife, Society & Culture, Photo Story, Timelapse, and Aerial. Three special prizes were also awarded—the Colour Award, the People’s Choice Award, and Young Photographer of the Year.
  • The overall winner was judged based on a portfolio of photographs.
  • All work was photographed or videoed within New Zealand or its overseas dependencies.
  • New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year has taken place since 2009—this is the eighth year of the competition.