Photos from top by Ryan Domenico, Cornel Tukiri, Rob Suistead, Tobias Kraus, Becki Moss

The finalists in NZ Geographic's Photographer of the Year award will make you see this country through fresh eyes. 

Britomart is proud to host a beautiful new exhibition in the Atrium on Takutai: NZ Geographic magazine’s  Photographer of the Year 2021 is not only a showcase of the country’s beauty, but also its complexity. The judges have combed through more than 6,000 entries to choose 54 finalists across six categories.

Those finalists are now on show in the Atrium on Takutai (on beautiful display boards by Angus Muir Design), and you’re invited to vote for the People’s Choice Award. We warn you that making your selections won’t be easy. There are aerial shots which make it seem like you’re looking at the landscape through fresh eyes, incredible moments of light, cloud and shadow on the mountains, intimate takes on momentous community events, and a whole lot more.

The competition was established by NZ Geographic in 2008. Publisher James Frankham says he wanted to create a space to allow new photographers to get recognition for their work, and to support and celebrate existing photographers whose images “weren’t just the most beautiful and colourful, but were interesting and challenging and show us who we really are.”

Some things have changed over the years. To win the Landscape category, for example, James says a photograph “has to be orders of magnitude better than a winning entry in 2009. The craft has moved on, and an image needs to have a real X-factor and make you think about New Zealand and our context.” There have been technical improvements over that time, of course – photographers can now shoot by starlight, for example, which hasn’t been technically possible until recently.

There are technical skills, and there are social skills, and the Society and Culture category rewards both of these. “These photo stories have always been about the photographer having the bravery, insight and empathy to walk into a situation,” James says. He adds that this category is particular rich because we’re in a “post-normal” society of lockdowns, climate change and inequality.

That said, there is plenty of positivity in the images too. “The response of the photographers is not one of anguish or bitterness,” James says. “As a photographer you have a role to play in the image-making that is interpretive. We see photographers highlighting innovation and adaptation, positivity and resilience. It’s realistic, but it’s uplifting.”  

You can view the finalists in the Photographer of the Year awards in the Atrium on Taktuai now, and vote for the People's Choice Award at this link