Sharpshooters, from left, Esther Bunning, Sharisse Eberlein and Rebecca Kempton with their winning photos. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
gianina.schwanecke@age.co.nz

There was a Wairarapa focus at this year’s Nikon and New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography Iris Awards, where three of the region’s photographers were recognised for their talents.

Greytown photographer Rebecca Kempton took home several awards, including a gold with distinction in the landscape category and a gold in the documentary category.

She was also named as a finalist for the 2019 NZ Documentary Photographer of the Year and took home a silver with distinction, a silver, and two bronze medals across the documentary, landscape and creative categories.

They were her first golds, and she was one of only 10 people recognised with distinction.

“I was in complete shock and very teary,” she said. “I was completely blown away and very honoured.”

Rebecca Kempton’s winning panorama of Greytown School swimming sports, which was awarded a gold in the documentary category.
PHOTO/REBECCA KEMPTON

The winning photo was a panoramic scene captured at the Greytown School swimming sports in the documentary category.

“It meant a lot to me as I know all the children in the image, and parents too, and have a personal connection with the school,” she said.

“It is a really tough category, some very powerful images and so varied – from birth to death and everything in between, so I was absolutely thrilled to be named a finalist.”

Fellow Greytown photographer Esther Bunning was named the NZIPP Book Photographer of the Year for her award-winning book Children of Aotearoa, which features the words and stories of young people aged from toddlers through to 18 years.

Bunning said she was thrilled with the news.

“It was a mammoth project to produce and it brings me so much joy to have it rewarded in this way. All the inspiration for the photographs came from the children themselves and we brainstormed around their words, their vision. It’s their book.”

The judges said each story and image was innovatively created and the book had a place as an important cultural record of New Zealand.

They also loved that it was a community book, printed by Lamb Peters Print in Greytown, and with each child’s sitting fee donated to the Cancer Society — the project raised more than $5000.

Wedding and portrait photographer Sharisse Eberlein, from Featherston, placed silver and bronze in the wedding in camera artistry category.

“The judges enjoyed the narratives in the images, which reflects what I love most about wedding photography – capturing all the little stories within the main story throughout the wedding day,” she said.

“This single-capture category is designed to recognise and reward excellence in creativity, the mastery of craft, techniques of in-camera capture, and attention to detail.”

Her winning images included a bronze award for a photograph of a bride’s dress hanging in her childhood bedroom.

One of the judges commented that details shots were hard to shoot well and felt that it was an interesting, gutsy image which had a strong narrative, with a nostalgic feel and hints of the bride’s childhood.

Eberlein’s silver with distinction was awarded in the portrait open category for a series of self-portraits which she created as a creative emotional outlet.

A panel of five judges assessed more than 750 photo entries from around the country and overseas for the awards.

NZIPP chairwoman Kaye Davis said the standards were raised higher each year.

“The awards give photographers an opportunity to challenge themselves and push photographic boundaries, and to also see how their work stacks up against others in the profession,” she said.