On Monday, June 13, the 2016 Sigma D-Photo Amateur Photographer of the Year (APOTY) competition will be coming to a close, so this is our last catch up with our category winners from the 2015 competition. In this instalment, we talk to the winner of the 2015 Nature category, Christopher Mathews, about what he's been working on since his win last year.
D-Photo: What made you decide to enter the 2015 Sigma D-Photo Amateur Photographer of the Year competition?
Christopher Mathews: I was enrolled in a photography night class at Hagley Community College, and I had support from some of my peers, who also entered, and from my tutor, Paul Daly. I thought, what’s the point of making images if I don’t share them in some way.
What was it like to have such a positive outcome in winning your category of the competition?
The result I achieved completely blew me away! I liked the image myself, but I was up against a mountain of beautiful images, many with winning attributes. [It was] quite flattering to get the win.
Can you tell us the story behind your winning image?
I was driving around the back of Christchurch Airport and saw an Australasian Harrier that had been hit by a car. I drove another kilometre or so, but couldn’t shake the image of this once magnificent creature all bent and spent. I turned around and tried to capture what had happened as best as I could.
What gear did you use to capture your image? Are you using the same gear now or have you changed your preferred equipment?
I was shooting with a newly acquired Sigma EX 12–24mm f/4.5–5.6 lens attached to my trusty Canon 600D. I have considered upgrading my camera body, but have opted instead to first upgrade my lenses, when the budget permits. I have also added a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 and a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L.
What projects are you currently working on at the moment? Can you provide a bit of an explanation about what inspired you to work on this or these?
I have been capturing a few landscapes; hard not to when you live down here! I have also been quite drawn to making images that have quite a strong geometric and graphical element. Quite often I am drawn to the ‘part’ rather than the whole. I have set up an account on 500px as a way of getting some of my images out there.
What inspired you to pick up a camera for the first time, and how long have you been shooting?
A number of years (decades) ago, I used to wander around with a Pentax SLR. I didn’t really know what I was doing, and with the cost of developing images it was often a disheartening process. I switched then to the convenience of a point-and-shoot, which was just the ticket for travelling. About four years ago, I decided to pick it up a notch, and I purchased my 600D and signed up to a beginners DSLR night course that Paul Daly was tutoring at Hagley Community College.
Where are you located, and what's your day-to-day job?
I live in Christchurch at the moment, and during the week, I am Foreman for a local building company which specialises in creating top-end architectural houses. Incredibly interesting work.
What would you say to someone considering entering the competition, but who are a little hesitant in clicking the ‘submit’ button?
Hey, what have you got lose? The worst that can happen is that you don’t get a placing!