‘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.

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