‘Truthful’ vision wins
Documentary style awarded
A photo essay documenting a friend’s gender transformation has won a prize for Titahi Bay’s Billie Win.
She won $1500 to spend on camera gear for the 10-photo essay on friend Sam’s transformation from female to male, titled Sam Sam but Different.
Win started photographing Sam, born Louise, as he started taking testosterone injections about a year ago.
‘‘I purely wanted to document him in daily life . . . and what he’s going through.’’
The photo essay was originally part of her portfolio at The Photo School in Raumati and she thought the images were powerful enough to submit for the Listener Photo Essay Competition.
The 23-year-old hoped her success in this first competition would boost her career.
She launched her business after completing The Photo School’s practical and advanced courses last June.
It has been tough going, but she is getting a variety of work, including weddings, portraits, events and commercial work.
‘‘It’s hard work, but I love it and I’m glad I chose to do it.’’
Win decided she wanted a new career while working at police national headquarters.
Photography ran in the family, with her grandmother, Liz Brook, a longtime newspaper photographer and journalist, and her mother a keen photographer.
‘‘I guess it’s alway been a part of life, we’d always be taking photos.’’
Win started taking it seriously when she got her first digital SLR camera in 2008.
‘‘It was all a bit of a gamble, but I did really well at The Photo School. I got top student, top portfolio and I just thought ‘I want to do it’, and so I put my mind to it.’’
The Photo School has been going 13 years and is run by Mel Phillips and Marie-Jean Mills.
The school has more than 30 tertiary students, in partnership with Whitireia Polytechnic, including 10 doing the degree level Bachelor of Applied Arts, said Mills. It also runs an online course.
Mills said she liked the ‘‘truthfulness’’ of Win’s photo essay and predicted she would have a good future in photography.
‘‘ Billie’s a very capable photographer with plenty of people skills so she can go where lots of people can’t and cover it with sensitivity and dignity.’’
Award winner: Billie Win says the competition win is good timing, as she needs new camera gear for her fledgling business. Documentary: A photograph of Sam injecting himself with testosterone from Billie Win’s photo essay.