Last week I headed off to Wellington for the 80th Birthday celebrations of the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography. It was that time of year again where photographers from all across the country, and overseas, came together for the annual NZIPP/Nikon Iris Awards, InFocus Conference and Exposure Event. I had no idea what a rollercoaster ride I was in for this year!

This years speakers were pure inspiration, from Sue Bryce talking so passionately about the business of professional photography and the power of the print (something I firmly believe in), to Gee Greenslade‘s incredible “Break Sh!t, Make Art” (I love you Gee!), Emil Blinski teaching us how to shoot behind the scenes videos and the jaw dropping stories from fellow Fujifilm X photographer Michael Coyne talking about his life as a National Geographic documentary photographer (terrifying and hilarious at the same time) and oh so much more. (Amazing job events team!)

I won’t make this a long and dramatic post of all the ins and outs of everything that happened during the week. Lets just say it was full of ups and downs, a huge learning curve. As always, learning and growing is not always a comfortable experience! But straying from your comfort zone is always where the best stuff happens! I will say a HUGE thank you to the ever fabulous Gen from Canon who bailed me out big time when I urgently needed to get an image reprinted just hours before it was judged, I still owe you that wine Gen (I won’t forget).

So let’s talk about the awards…

This year was the third year I’ve entered and this time I was fortunate to spend some time behind the scenes print handling, getting to see the prints up close and hear the judges comments. This year I felt more nervous than ever when my images were judged. I guess it could be something to do with the fact that many of my entries were created for myself, they were personal projects, images that I am emotionally connected too, that have a special meaning and hold wonderful memories for me.

#DogIsLove was a hugely important collection of images for me to create. How would they perceive it? Would the get the meaning in the short 20 seconds they have to look at it? (the answer to that one is almost!). There were images from my travels too, my shots from Guernsey, Paris and London were all there. I’m not saying that I’m not heavily invested in the work I create or entered from client sessions or commercial work, you know I am 100%.

I was utterly amazed to come away from the awards with a total of 4 bonze, 4 silver and my first ever gold! If you ever wondered what judging is like, wonder no more and check out this video taken from the live stream. It’s of my Paris shot being judged.

Join me on a Limited Edition Winners Circle Session

and help celebrate by creating award-worthy art with your dog at it's heart.
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Making history one dog at a time!

I’ve been told that in the 80 year history of the NZIPP, I am the first person to win a portrait photographer of the year title with images that are not of people. I hope I can do this title justice and continue to promote awareness for the New Zealand Pet Photography industry. I firmly believe as photographers we are stronger together and together we can raise the standard to world class heights.

To all my NZIPP friends old and new, I can’t wait to see you all again in Wellington next year!

The best was yet to come…

At the Gala dinner I was awarded the next stage of merit above Master of Photography, Fellow. I have to take a second to remember that I’ve managed to do this in just 3 years, I’ve worked my arse off to achieve this so I was pretty proud to add that yellow ribbon to my collection of medals.

I was also  announced as a finalist for the Portrait Open category. As the names of the finalists were called, me and two incredibly talented NZIPP Grand Masters, Ira from Fujifilm, the category sponsor, opened the envelope and said my name. I believe my first reaction was a rather audible “oh f#ck!”! I could not believe it!

Image: The Heather and Doug Records (

We were advised to write a speech in case we won and my friends were all telling me to write something. I didn’t think I was in with a chance. I literally scribbled a few words on a bit of scrap paper as we were leaving the hotel; the sponsors names and Chris, so I remembered to thank them and these 6 little words… If in doubt apply more glitter. If you want to know what I mean by that, watch my speech below! (Thanks for filming it Belinda).

Thanks again to everyone involved with organising InFocus, NZIPP, honours team, events team, all the sponsors. Thanks to Belinda, Linda, Tim, Michelle, Emma, Cass, Karla, Stacey, all the Christchurch NZIPPers. HUGE congratulation to everyone who achieved their goals and won awards this year. See you in Wellington next year!

Join me on a Limited Edition Winners Circle Session

and help celebrate by creating award-worthy art with your dog at it's heart.
I want to know more...