Burning steel wool shot impresses
A woman who uses photography as a means to cope with a debilitating medical condition has won the People’s Choice prize in a one-day photography competition.
Mirjam van Sabben’s shot, Through Fire and Water, received hundreds of votes in the Nikon Auckland Photo Day competition, part of the Auckland Festival of Photography.
The Auckland woman captured the image using the steel wool technique, which must be shot 30-45 minutes after sunset.
‘‘I bought an E-book on night photography,’’ she says.
‘‘I read it again and thought, ‘I’m going to try that’.
‘‘It took many different shots.’’
Van Sabben’s technique involves steel wool, an egg whisk, a dog lead and a lighter.
Her husband, Paul Dadd, was on-hand to assist in getting the ultimate photo.
‘‘He was really committed to that shot and he suggested we go into the water to get the reflection.
‘‘He stood in there until we got the shot so I couldn’t do this without his support and help.’’
Van Sabben suffers with fibromyalgia, a disorder that causes muscle pain and fatigue, which means she is unable to work.
She uses her photography to escape the pain she feels daily.
‘‘It refreshes me, but I pay for it physically,’’ she says.
‘‘One day when I was praying, I was reminded of how steel wool is something that is harsh but can also produce beauty as well through this technique.
‘‘I was encouraged to know that although living with pain every day is hard and at times just downright ugly, my photography enables me to escape this in moments where I can produce and capture beauty.’’
The photographer of 20 years has entered the competition every year since 2007.
She was a finalist in 2007 and 2012 but has never been a winner until now.
‘‘I do it because I love it and it’s the highlight of my year.’’
She plans to create a series of photos using the same steel wool technique.
Unique technique: Mirjam van Sabben’s winning shot, Through Fire and Water.
Winning photographer: Mirjam van Sabben with some of her portfolio photos, including one that sold during the Auckland Festival of Photography.