Cancer inspires winning photo series
An encounter with breast cancer has inspired two award-winning photographs.
Palmerston North-based Meli Berends, in her third year of UCOL’s bachelor of applied visual imagery, won the student of the year award in the 2016 Epson/ NZIPP Iris Professional Photography Awards.
Her two images were also awarded a silver with distinction and a bronze.
The silver with distinction photo is a triptych of self-portraits recording her own battle with breast cancer.
‘‘I like to think the self-portrait is an image of hope, showing the life of a young woman with breast cancer can have a happy ending, as mine has.
‘‘I also hope that it creates awareness that breast cancer isn’t just an older woman’s disease and younger women in their 30s and 20s are affected by it too.’’
Berends said although her breast cancer journey had been life-changing, she didn’t want it to define her.
’’For me, photography is a tool that can be used to highlight, help, create awareness and celebrate.’’
After moving to Palmerston North from Christchurch to study at UCOL, Berends is now nearing the end of the third year of her degree.
For her final year project, she created a piece of work that celebrated unity within diversity and asked the viewer to look deeper. ’’Each participant within the project has a story of their own to share and regardless of their story, the message is simple: ‘I am more than just…’.’’
The other award-winning image is part of a series about children growing up too fast and continues her focus on using pho- tography with a strong social commentary to spark discussion.
After graduating, Berends intends to specialise in birth photography. ’’Your baby will be born once, that moment will never come again; memories of the birth can be very clouded and seeing the images is a great way to remember forgotten moments.
‘‘It’s not all about the crowning but the effort and love to bring them into the world and that first precious meet.’’
UCOL students from Palmerston North and Auckland picked up 41 of the 60 awards at the professional competition. It was the 12th consecutive year a UCOL student had won the student of the year award.
‘Cassie’ was taken by Meli Berends as part of her final project for the UCOL bachelor of visual imaging.