Iris Awards and Infocus Conference 2013

8 August 2013

I was lucky enough to become a member of the NZIPP and hence eligible to enter the Iris awards attend the INFOCUS conference that follows it, this year. The culmination of the event was the Gala dinner on August 5th, where the NZ photographer of the year was named.

Prior to attending I didn’t know an awful lot about the awards other than  it featured work by the pre eminent professional photographers in the country. ( There are to major organisations for photographers in New Zealand: the PSNZ for amateurs/enthusiasts and the NZIPP for those who derive an income from photography. Being a member of both my observation is that the standard of photography in both organisations is excellent, but that the style of photography  varies a little, though that may be more imagined that real).

Anyway I digress!

The awards.
The judging for these is fascinating as each image is flashed up before a panel of 5 judges who get up scrutinise and then discuss the image. Often one judge likes the image and advocates for it whilst another takes an opposing view and so you get a more critical and dynamic appraisal of the image. Whilst I missed my own image’s judgements it was still fascinating to see this.
The local Southland Region entered for the first time and our tally was: 1 Gold1 silver distinction, 9 silvers and 9 bronzes,  20 awards in all,an amazing result!
Whilst the Southland Otago region came second in the provincial rankings!
The other awards and images are available on the NZIPP website, but Kaye Davis for her award of NZ photographer of the year: take a look at her images and study them, they are a combination of simple but with layers of meaning as well as being exquisitely crafted to be a creation of beauty .

Conference
The Keynote speakers were Gregory Heisler, Trey Ratcliffe , Rachel Hale Mckenna,Tony Hewitt and Karen Flett. Gregory Heisler spoke candidly about his time working for Time magazine and the stories behind iconic images that he has produced, but for me more interesting was his  masterclass about Arnold Newman (who he worked with for 10 months). He showed a video of the “Master” at work which was revealing because it illustrated the way the man worked and how by sheer passion he gradually worked his way to the final image. Surveying, shooting, re-surveying, inching the camera, seizing on a chance happening and using available light and simple equipment relying on his experience and clarity of vision to het the result. His sheer fulfillment in being behind the camera and giving his utmost is what shone through.

Other themes from the conference included
-the importance of professionalism
-we are all individuals and are encouraged to let this shine through our images and their stories and style
-the digital revolution is but another change in an ever evolving industry, the secret is to embrace the changes
-live in the now

Personal Comment
For me it was huge and humbling event. As a first time entrant I was stunned to pick up a mixture of gold (1) silver(4) and bronze (3) awards as well as an Associateship of the NZIPP. But as I return home I reflect on all those people behind the scenes who work tirelessly (at the expense of photo opportunities!) to make this event happen. It is easy to criticise judges and organisers but I would like to extend a big thank you to everyone involved in putting on such a professional and successful event.