Society’s heights

Marlborough will play host to the Photographic Society of New Zealand when it holds its 62nd National Convention in April. Reflecting on last year’s convention, the organization’s president, Shona Jaray, takes a look at some of the distinguished work on show while Adrian Hatwell discusses some of the esteemed speakers

Natex: The National Exhibition of the Photographic Society of NZ

Some of the best photographic images that New Zealand has to offer are shown at the National Exhibition (Natex) of the Photographic Society of New Zealand. Held each year in conjunction with the National Convention of the Photographic Society, Natex is open to all New Zealand residents, irrespective of whether or not they are members of the Photographic Society.

14. Eric Young trophy for Best Landscape Digital Image Bevan Tulett _The glow as a new day begins_

Eric Young trophy for Best Landscape Digital Image, Bevan Tulett FPSNZ, The Glow As a New Day Begins

Marlborough Camera Club and Nelson Camera Club have the opportunity to host the convention this year and follow the high standards 2013’s host, Kapiti Coast Photographic Society, achieved. As host, the club was tasked with organizing the exhibition, from providing entry forms to hanging and displaying the exhibition and finally returning all entries to their owners.

13. Arthur Bates Trophy for Champion Monochrome Digital Image  Meg Lipscombe _The Scarf_

Arthur Bates Trophy for Champion Monochrom Digital Image, Meg Lipscombe FPSNZ, The Scarf

Last year, in total 255 people submitted 1728 images, and of those 534 were selected for exhibition. There were four sections: Open Projected Images, Open Prints, Nature Projected Images and Nature Prints, and four images could be entered in each section.

Selection took place over a weekend in March. Three, three-person selection panels viewed every image at least once, though in reality it was often more than once. Selection weekend is always a big one.

24. Honours ribbon Open Digital Image Joy Kachina _The Boulder Bank_

Honors Ribbon Open Digital Image, Joy Kachina, The Boulder Bank

The selectors were issued with electronic scoring devices carrying five buttons. The information provided when the buttons were pressed was displayed in a digital read-out behind the panel. That provides anonymity and helps ensure selectors are not influenced by other members of the panel. Each selector awards up to five, to give a maximum possible total of 15, for a clearly outstanding image. In the case of a wide variation of scores between selectors a discussion would follow, with each selector given the opportunity to argue in support of their score.

15. Brian Brake Award for Best Digital Image Photojournalism  Bob McCree _Go Away_

Brian Brake Award for Best Digital Image Photojournalism, Bob McCree FPSNZ, Go Away

After the first round of scoring the panel looked again at those images with the middle scores, i.e. those on the cusp of selection. When those images the selectors believed were of a quality and range suitable for a national exhibition were finally confirmed, the task of awarding trophies and medals began.

19. Maardi Cup Champion Monochrome Print Michelle Usher _At Peace_

Maadi Cup Champion Monochrome Print, Michelle Usher, At Peace

Each trophy winner is also awarded a medal. Last year there were 12 gold medals, eight silver, eight bronze, and 17 were awarded honours. These awards were presented at a ceremony at the National Convention. All the award-winning images can be seen as a slide show here. If you click on ‘show info’ at the top right the title of the image, the photographer and the date of capture will be displayed with the image. The complete 2013 catalogue (17MB PDF) can be downloaded at this link.

The catalogue, in addition to showing the award-winning images, lists all the acceptances.

9. Best Print Nature illustrating nature  (Gold medal)  Ken Trevathan _Sally Lightfoot Crab excreting_

Best Print Nature Illustrating Nature (Gold medal) Ken Trevathan, Sally Lightfoot Crab Excreting

The front cover of the catalogue features the winner of this year’s Ronald Woolf Youth Award, Taliah Morrison. This award is for the best print by a photographer under 25 years of age. It is wonderful to be able to encourage young photographers and see the freshness with which they approach their photography.

Each year this exhibition is generously sponsored by Canon New Zealand. The Photographic Society is extremely grateful for its support.

By Shona Jaray APSNZ, President, PSNZ

PSNZ National Convention 2013

Each year the Photographic Society of New Zealand’s National Convention plants its stakes in a different part of the country. Last year the event cycled around to the nation’s capital, in Wellington’s Town Hall, and more appropriate accommodation for the event’s prestigious guest speakers you could not ask for.

For this 61st National Convention, which also included a generous serving of practical workshops, trade displays, and general mingling, the organization put together a truly inspiring roster of presentations. The following is merely a sample of the wisdom and wit on tap at the event; anyone remotely serious about photography who has not made it along to one of these conventions is doing themselves a disservice.

Liu Heung Shing

The event’s headline speaker, Liu Heung Shing, is a Hong Kong–born Pulitzer-winning photojournalist acclaimed for his extensive coverage of China, among other international press assignments. An accomplished, good-humoured orator, Liu led a captivated audience through tales of his storied career, culminating in his editing of the exhaustive 400-plus-page photo book, China: Portrait of a Country.

Liu Heung Shing

As much a fascinating lecture on the development of the People’s Republic as simple biography, Liu delivered a challenging explanation of the country’s sweeping changes, his difficult relationship to the nation and the problematic visions of China in books produced by foreigners.

“In these books I have seen multiple versions of China, but I have not yet found the version of China I’m familiar with.”

It was these feelings that prompted the photographer to take on the daunting Portrait of a Country project. It required him to call on a lifetime of experience, visiting many countries and hundreds of photographers, sifting through shoeboxes of photos and negatives, on a four-and-a-half-year journey to assembling a vision of China he felt accurate.

Amidst his globe-trotting story — from teenage holidays spent translating news feeds for his journalist father, to his Pulitzer-winning coverage of a collapsing USSR — Liu revealed an early inspiration from our end of the world. At the very unsure beginnings of his career he met legendary Kiwi photographer Brian Brake — in the late ’60s at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.

“Brian Brake was so easygoing, he took away the fear,” Lui explains. “He made me feel that the bar [to being a photojournalist] was achievable.”

Though his address was peppered with tales of perseverance and success, Lui — like many of the great photographers looking back — fears the industry circumstances that gave rise to his incredible body of work are now a thing of the past.

“I could go to China with my camera and no deadline — it was very leisurely. I could look, I could take my time, and I could find people to tell me their stories.

“This [time] is something photojournalists do not have today.”

Pete Dobre

Adelaide landscape photographer Pete Dobre is an easy guy to spot in a room; he wears his outfit of a red-checked shirt, red cap, shorts (often with holes) and mismatched socks as devotedly as a cartoon character. But behind each item there’s a tale of practical wisdom and hard-won life lessons, convincing enough that he had the PSNZ council members wearing identical outfits by convention’s end.

Pete Dobre

Humble and forthright, the self-taught pro brought with him some wonderful landscape images and wildlife films to show the crowd, but his real mission was to share some encouragement.

“The sky inspires me. For me it’s the most important part of the landscape, if there’s no sky, rarely will I take a picture,” Dobre explains.

It’s a philosophy that has served him well. The successful photographer is now able to dedicate six months of the year immersed in Australia’s remotest regions. During that time he lives entirely off what he can load into his car, sleeping outdoors in a zip-up swag, existing on a diet of two dry Weet-Bix a day, with a power inverter under his vehicle to charge batteries. This ascetic lifestyle all feeds in to his work, waiting for that moment where he can achieve what he has coined a “P.O.” – photographic orgasm.

“If you limit your time, you limit your shoot. The essence of photography is simply light and time.”

He emphasises the point with a series of amazing films depicting the aberrant nesting of pelicans in South Australia’s Lake Eyre, following the Queensland floods. He was in the area, on and off, for two years and in the early days it would take him three-and-a-half-hours to move 30 metres in order to get close enough to shoot the birds and their babies.

“You learn things when you have the privilege of staying in a place for a long time.”

He, like Liu, admits that amount of time is not something many have the opportunity to invest, and it’s not something he takes for granted.

“To make a living as a landscape photographer is hard. Now everyone has a camera, everyone is a photographer. I’m lucky every year I’m still around.”

Dobre closes his address by urging the attendant photographers to be generous with their skills. He recounts the story of a 16-year-old on a bad path who wrote to him for help; seven years on that boy now runs his own portrait business and shoots for a multitude of car magazines, thanks in part to Dobre’s mentorship.

“Encourage young people, they are your future,” the artist implores. “Don’t hold knowledge to yourself — share it.”

Amos Chapple


A local boy who has strayed about as far from the nest as it’s possible to go, Amos Chapple returns home with wild stories from some of earth’s most untravelled regions. And if this photography thing doesn’t work out for him he has a bright future as an entertainer — Chapple certainly knows how to tell a good yarn.

Amos Chapple

Starting out as a photographer for the Herald, posted for two years in Hamilton (“the kind of place you can really focus on your work — I didn’t have much of a social life,” he says, laughing), Chapple quickly tired of the negative stories chased by the media and set his sights abroad. He was fortunate enough to pick up a job at UNESCO’s Our Place organisation, travelling the world to photograph world heritage sites.

“You worked on six-month contracts, so you never had any job security. It kept you hungry, which is very important for a young professional.”

It was during his five years there that the photographer developed a taste for travelling to the places few others dared to go. He’s brewed tea with Bedouins in Jordan, shot the Komodo dragons of Indonesia, ridden the mountain railways and crossed the Nongriat Village tree root bridge in India — anywhere people hadn’t already photographed a million times over, he was keen to explore.

“You can travel to places and take the best photos anyone has ever taken there, quite simply because nobody has photographed there before.”

Despite having what many would consider a dream job, Chapple had an epiphany while hiking in the hills of Upper Svaneti in Georgia, where he took refuge in a farmer’s hut, that would significantly alter his career path.

“I was fit enough to walk up a mountain, I knew enough Russian to talk to the farmer, he liked me enough to let me stay in the hut. It was all due to who I was as a person.

“That is when I decided I was never again going to work for anyone else.”

And so he became a freelance photographer, travelling to the places others would not and selling the resulting picture stories. He has since travelled to the ex-Soviet territories, camped out on the Iran-Iraq border and bundled up in the Russian village of Oymyakon, said to be the coldest permanently inhabited place in the world.

On his fantastic voyages Chapple advises the audience there is one single tool he has found more valuable than any other for travelling the world — his Kiwi passport.

“People love us; we have no real historical footprint and there’s this image that we’re very decent, fair people … with a New Zealand passport I can go into Iran and get a visa on arrival,” he enthuses. “Make use of that passport.”

This year’s National Convention will take place from April 23–27, hosted by the Marlborough Camera Club in Blenheim — make sure that’s marked in your calendar to ensure you don’t miss the next round of inspiring guest speakers.

By Adrian Hatwell

Submissions are now open for this year’s National Exhibition, closing February 28, and tickets for this year’s National Convention are on sale now.



National Photojournalism comp opens

New Zealand’s competition for photojournalism is now accepting entries for its 21st annual award programme, with photographers vying for the prestigious Walker Trophy.

The National Photojournalism Competition 2012, hosted by the New Brighton Photographic Club, will be accepting submissions in print, slide and digital image categories until July 31.

“There have been so many golden opportunities over the summer months to capture those magic moments of people doing things, be it while you have been out four-wheel driving, attending the races, sporting events or watching the buskers and not to forget within your own family or neighbourhood, to name but a few,” says the organiser.

The competition is open to all New Zealand residents and financial members of PSNZ affiliated camera club, with each entrant allowed to submit a maximum of four prints, four slides and four digital images. Read the rest of this entry »

PSNZ’s Fields of Colour approaches

The Photography Society of New Zealand’s three-day Northern Regional Convention this year kicks of on November 11 at the Franklin Arts and Cultural Centre in Pukekohe.

The event, dubbed Fields of Colour, offers Society members the chance to hear an array of professional photographers speak as well as attend various practical workshops and photo outings.

Guest speakers include the photographer behind Auckland’s Fstop Studios and D-Photo lighting guru Bret Lucas, landscape photographer Geoff Cloake, surf photographer Cory Scott, wilderness photographer Graham Dainty and sports photographer Richard Spranger.

As well as delivering talks on their areas of expertise the visiting pros will also host workshops on the likes of lighting and body paint, finding images on location, editing and preparing images and lighting nude photography.

The conventions photo outings will include locations such as the Karaka countryside, Bombay market garden countryside, Glenbrook Railway and Wright’s Water Gardens.

Registration for the full three days costs $219, or you can pick and choose the days or events you wish to attend. For more information visit the official website.

Image: © Bret Lucas

NZ Camera 2012 submissions open

The Photographic Society of New Zealand has begun accepting submissions for its annual photography book showcasing members’ works.

Society members are invited to submit up to two images to be considered for publication in New Zealand Camera 2012; this year the submission process is being handled entirely online.

The 2012 edition will also feature a special section around the theme ‘we are storytellers’, with entrants invited to nominate specific images for that section.

Further building on the storytelling theme, entrants will have the option of submitting a short, 140-character story to accompany the image and its title.

The organiser asks that any image being submitted with a story also stands accompanied by its title only, as images may be published without their stories attached.

The publication also offers another opportunity for photographers to see their words in print in a new ‘pearls of wisdom’ section, which replaces the previous ‘famous quotes’ chapter.

Photographic insights, which could address matters of inspiration or enthusiasm, need to stick to the 140-character limit as well and may be published independently of any submitted image.

Only current financial members of the Photographic Society of New Zealand can submit work for the publication and those wishing to do so should browse the conditions of entry thoroughly.

Entries close 5PM, September 23 and can be submitted electronically here.

PSNZ conference opens this week

The Photographic Society of New Zealand’s annual conference opens this week, running from April 6 to 10.

The event, titled A Shore Thing, will be hosted at the North Harbour Stadium function centre in Albany.

The five-day convention includes talks from top photographers, workshops and field trips.

This year’s speakers include New Zealand legend Ans Westra, UK landscape photographer Charlie Waite, Australian photographer Michael Hall and photography educator Gerard Saide.

D-Photo will be on-site covering the convention so keep your eyes peeled for updates through the week.

Late registrations for the event are still being welcomed and the late fee has been waved although some programme options have already filled up.

View the full program here.

One Step Closer: Photography to Art

At the end of October this year the Kapiti Coast Photographic Society hosted the PSNZ/Epson Central Regional Convention at Tatum Park, a great venue with park-like grounds just a little north of the Kapiti Coast.

The theme “One Step Closer — Photography to Art” was deliberately chosen because we had access to top quality speakers able to stimulate, inspire and facilitate thought on the differences between taking or making images.

The speakers were all talented New Zealanders.

Tony Bridge, FPSNZ is a digital artist, photo educator, writer and one of New Zealand’s leading landscape photographers. Bridge’s work draws heavily upon his Maori and European heritage and his ongoing studies into a broad range of spiritual and mystical traditions.

“It seems to me, that the digital process is limited only by our imagination, our knowledge of self, and our willingness to give it free rein,” Bridge says.

His photographic work and philosophy can be seen here.

Bridge believes that “all our images are postcards we are sending to ourselves… thus they are narratives. Our photographs are the mirrors we hold up to ourselves. They are the mile markers  for our own individual and unique journey”.

Paul Gummer, FNZIPP teaches commercial photography and design degree and diploma programmes at UCOL in Palmerston North. Recently, he won the 2009 NZ Institute of Professional Photography (NZIPP) Landscape Photographer of the Year Award and the Overall 2009 NZIPP Photographer of the Year Award.

This year he won L&P/AIPP ‘Landscape Photographer of the Year 2010’ Award at the Australian Institute of Professional Photography Awards. His work can be viewed here.

“The digital era has been highly inspirational I have moved further away from representing the world in a purely realistic way,” Gummer says.

“There is no written rule that says a photographer must be ˜realistic’.  In fact, as we let our imaginations drive the pictures, they inevitably become stronger… painters and filmmakers have been doing this for years.

“The image communicates an idea/tells a story/reveals a narrative, it induces an emotive response, it suggests something beyond the subject matter, the lighting is evocative, it is tonally beautiful.”

Sally Mason, FPSNZ is a Freeman Patterson tutor and Photographic artist. Sally’s unique “in-camera” artwork is held in hundreds of private and corporate collections throughout the world.

“Spontaneous creative play with your camera unlocks the unspoiled core within, and that allows for the unconditioned  approach to learning  as experienced by children – without the need or pressure to ˜do things right’,” Mason says.

“The need to discover why you are who you are – and understand how we feel and  why we react to a place or situation in the way we do… that in turn influences  our approach to photography….. your image is a reflection of yourself.”

Binh Trinh, APSNZ is an international award winning photographer based in Palmerston North.

In just four years he has quickly developed a strong reputation in New Zealand as well as overseas due to his fresh and artistic style, winning a multitude of awards from around the world. Trinh told us that we should “see the light and the rest will come”.

“Don’t be a photographer, be an artist,” Trinh says.

A highlight of the convention and completely coincidental was the extraordinary link in the message expressed by each speaker – as if they had collaborated in their preparation. However, they had not communicated. All who attended found it an inspirational and thought provoking weekend.

The Kapiti coast Photographic Society, organiser of this event, welcomes new members of all abilities.

Harold Mason: Don Kelly APSNZ – PSNZ President – TPM 161

Don Kelly

The old saying ˜if you need something done ask a busy person’ certainly applies to Don Kelly. To list all of his achievements, information about which was like getting blood from a stone, would take several columns so I will summarise. Post Office radio technician, television serviceman, Blenheim Jaycee President, Nelson/Marlborough Jaycee Regional Governor, leader of the winning Australasian Jaycee debating team, Jaycee Senator, Blenheim Borough Councilor, then the Marlborough District Council, Marlborough Camera Club president, convention organiser and for the last 35 years a well known and popular Blenheim car salesman. Pretty much the perfect CV to lead a major national organisation like the PSNZ to another growth plateau.

Don Kelly was born in Nelson but from the age of four was brought up in Blenheim.

A keen sportsman, he rose to the Marlborough College First XV and at college was unbeaten in six wrestling fights staged as preliminaries to professional bouts.

While he completed his radio technician cadetship this career was never his passion. Joining Jaycees, a young men’s training and service organisation, in 1966 was however one of the ˜most life-changing moves’ he has ever made. Apart from huge personal growth achievements through the organisation, a Jaycee colleague offered him a job in his car dealership, a career that 35 years later he still enjoys.

“My interest in photography began in 1988 when the company bought a compact camera. I decided to buy one also to replace my old Agfa camera bought secondhand 25 years earlier. With my growing interest I soon replaced the compact with a Nikon 801, which, along with a second Nikon, I still use today. Although I have occasionally ˜fine tuned’ an image in Photoshop, I haven’t yet converted to digital, preferring to save that until I grow up.”

Most Saturdays through summer Don photographs weddings, enjoys black and white portraiture and is a rostered weekend photographer for the Marlborough Express, photographing sport and general news.

Don Kelly Northbound

Don joined the Marlborough Camera Club around 17 years ago and has actively competed in competitions. He became an individual member of the PSNZ in 1996. He was president of the Marlborough club for two years in the mid 90s and was chairman of the 1997 PSNZ National Convention committee. He agreed to repeat the performance when Blenheim again hosted the National Convention in 2003. He joined the PSNZ Council following that convention, was elected Vice President in 2004 and President in April this year at the Christchurch Convention. He achieved a Licentiateship to the Society in 1999 followed by an Associateship in 2002. On both occasions he achieved the distinctions with sets of black and white prints that he had produced in his own darkroom.

The PSNZ has approximately 900 individual members and represents, through some 60 affiliated clubs and societies, another 3000 photographers. Strong membership growth is noted within those clubs that have embraced digital photography. “Because of the digital revolution, photographic clubs have never had a better opportunity to grow membership with new programs,” says Don. “Recent growth appears to be not only younger people joining clubs but also older people who have decided to get into digital photography in their retirement.”

He is enthusiastic with the direction the PSNZ is heading. “The Council is actioning a change for the next National Exhibition, from only slides being projected to digital images being projected alongside. Digital will follow into other PSNZ competitions that until now have been slide only. Print competitions should stay the same ¦ after all one only gets two seconds of glory with a projected image.”

Rules and guidelines are being developed at the moment for the Jack Sprosen Memorial Trophy, which will be competed for with five-minute digital audiovisual presentations. Don believes that within the next two to three years this will be one of the most prestigious competitions in the PSNZ calendar.

He is also enthusiastic about the ˜huge profile increase’ over the last three years from the annual upgraded production of the quality coffee table book NZ Camera, a showcase of the best images from members over the previous year.

Don is excited that the PSNZ is growing so well while many other organisations are struggling, some to survive. At this time of growth and change the PSNZ is fortunate to have such an enthusiastic and capable president at the helm.

And not one to miss an opportunity he asked that readers be reminded that the next National Convention is in New Plymouth, 11-15 April, 2007.