So last night I was named NZ Creative Photographer of the Year at the 2016 Epson/NZIPP Iris Awards!! Talk about stoked. It took me about 20 minutes to stop shaking. I was so happy to be a finalist but I was up against some stiff competition and, without being disingenuous, I honestly hadn’t got my hopes up. The judging guidelines say that while diversity is good, the judges do look for a body of work that sits well together visually. There wasn’t much that could have sat well together visually beside my series of photos of shaving mirror reflections, let alone a Vermeer milkmaid! But I guess I certainly ticked the diversity box, haha.
I also received a Gold and two Silver with Distinctions in the Portrait Classic category, and bronzes in portrait classic, travel and landscape, so I’m extremely happy with my haul.
Here are my entries and a little bit of background on each.
Gold – Creative category. This is a series of photos of the shaving mirror in our bathroom, printed on metallic paper so they glow, and each with their own circle cut out of the mat. We have orange tiles with black trim, and turquoise bathroom towels.
Silver with Distinction – Creative category. When I was in Amsterdam last year I saw the original of this Vermeer painting of a milkmaid, and was blown away. I stood in front of it for so long, pondering just what it was that made it so magic. It was the play of light, composition and colour, and months later I wondered whether if you broke it down into those components without the detail, you could have a successful picture that someone could put back together again. I remembered the plastic sheeting that the professional cleaners used to protect our belongings after our house fire five years ago, and managed to get a roll from the company. I set it up in my studio and built myself a milkmaid behind it, out of all sorts of objects I found around the house, gaffer-taped together. The final image has more detail and is therefore more recognisable than I originally planned – I quickly found that when objects were too far enough away from the plastic it just didn’t work. This also meant that my mannequin Murray wasn’t up to the job, and I had to step in to be the arm and the face (wearing a pillowcase on my head)…
Silver with Distinction – Creative category. Photographed out the window of a bus in Brisbane. The reflected bus door behind me was creating this natural frame, and I shot off a whole lot of photos as we moved along and interesting things popped up in the frame. A good test of my reaction times and I was so happy when this mural came up and it all came together.
Silver – Creative category. A mural reflected in a building in central Brisbane. Photographed in the same afternoon as the bus photo above. I had just helped judge the Queensland state photography awards and was full of inspiration: I had a wonderful afternoon just wandering and photographing anything that took my fancy.Gold – Classic Portrait. My lovely daughter Eva, photographed in my studio. I stuck some black paper on the wall behind her, put some more black seamless paper on a portable backdrop stand in front of her, and ripped that piece so it fell to the side and created a triangle of light. She was the fourth person I tried this set-up with, and even then we worked pretty hard to get the pose and the light and the positioning all coming together at once (so many failed attempts!), so it was a real thrill when it was awarded a Gold.
Silver with Distinction – Classic Portrait category. Beautiful Stella caught my eye and imagination when she was waiting to cross the street as I was on school road patrol. I quickly gave her my card and asked her to get her parents to call me if they were keen for a shoot, and I’m so pleased they were. Thanks to Miranda Millen for the hairstyling and of course to Stella for being a fantastic model!
A bit of a play on colour and depth – I had the idea of hanging a coloured piece of card from a backdrop stand placed in front of another colour of seamless, lighting it to create that drop-shadow and using the paper to create a frame within a frame. The four portraits together then created another rectangle, and I double-matter each aperture to create a white edge that echoed the white edge on the paper behind each subject. Thank you to my subjects for sitting for me!Bronze – Travel category. Shot in the Wellington Railway Station and printed on metallic paper. Grand Master of Photography Tony Carter tried to talk it up to a Gold, bless him, but the other judges on the panel wanted more of a focal point. For me this shot is about the feeling of travel rather than the detail and I thank Tony for vocalizing everything I love about it. Bronze – Classic Portrait. My lovely neighbour. This photo was inspired by a portrait of a man that I saw in a 1920s photography annual. I wanted shallow depth of field but that was hard to achieve with my powerful studio lights so I would focus, then hold an ND8 filter over the lens and shoot into the blackness.Bronze – Landscape category. A third entry that was shot on that same afternoon in Brisbane. Thanks to all the entrants into those Queensland state awards for firing me up with inspiration and opening my eyes to the photographic possibilities around me!
Congratulations to all the other winners. The calibre of the work shown over the weekend does New Zealand photography proud. You can check out the award-winning images at this link, under “Iris Award Images”.