The winner of the Wildlife category of the 2011 New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year competition was an amateur who shot the winning image on a compact camera, while at school.
Mazdak Radjainia's winning image captured a moment of intimacy as 30-tonne leviathan whale tenderly lifted her calf to the surface. Mazdak, then a student at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland, photographed the pair in Niue while researching humpback whales.
It was the content of his photo, rather than flashy software, that was rewarded by the judges.
Today, the New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year competition opens for entries again, and the judges are looking for images that exude this same intimacy, timing and sense of special access to a unique situation that makes great editorial photography.
The competition has been running for four years and has become the country's largest, and richest—$7000 cash and an expedition cruise is up for grabs.
The four main categories in the New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year 2011 are intended to celebrate the time-honoured art of editorial photography and showcase the extraordinary natural and cultural riches of New Zealand.
The New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year 2012, sponsored by Nikon, will be picked from these entrants, as will the Young Photographer award, for entrants under the age of 21 on September 30, 2012. All photos must have been shot after September 30, 2010, and within New Zealand territory—including New Zealand-administered Pacific and Antarctic dependencies. Entries will be judged by Arno Gasteiger, Kim Westerskov, Andris Apse and James Frankham.
The winner of each category receives $1000 cash. The winner of the Young Photographer category will also receive $1000 and the opportunity to attend a nature photography workshop with Kim Westerskov. The overall winner earns the title New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year 2012, an additional $2000 cash and a berth as a New Zealand Geographic photographer on board a Heritage Expeditions’ voyage. Previous winners Brett Phibbs and Richard Robinson travelled to the subantarctic and returned with a portfolio of penguins and mega-herbs from places few are lucky enough to visit.
An exhibition of the best images entered in the previous three years of the competition will open in the Special Exhibition gallery at Auckland Museum on June 22, which will be complemented by all of this year’s competition finalists on August 25. The two exhibitions will run in parallel for two months until an awards event on October 25.
Enter now at www.nzgeographic.co.nz/photocomp — fame (if not fortune) could be yours.