Chris wins best nature photographer
When the phone rang on a Saturday night after 9 at Chris Helliwell’s home, he never dreamed that in a matter of minutes he would be “live on stage” at the Nikon New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography (NZIPP) Iris Professional Photography Awards.
He said he was astounded and shocked to learn he had won the Nature category.
Chris, who is a professional photographer and owns Edges Art + Framing in Havelock North, entered four prints and won one bronze and two silver awards. He was named Nature Photographer of the Year (sponsored by Epson NZ) at the prestigious national awards, held in Wellington last month.
Kaye Davis from the honours council said his images were “a beautiful study of nature through the application of various techniques that showed mastery of photographic practice. The prints were well handled”.
“It is such an honour to be recognised in such a large and talented field of photographers.
“This was my first time entering these awards and to be a finalist was amazing, then to win was just unbelievable,” Chris said.
The awards are run over five days and Chris attended for just one day to watch the judging.
“I did it really to learn more for next year. I was so thrilled to be named a finalist but didn’t think for a minute I would win. I didn’t attend the gala evening when the winners were announced.
“Instead I received a phone call and was live on stage accepting the award. When I hung up, my phone went crazy with people sending me massages of congratulations. It was amazing,” Chris said.
The 47 year old says he came to photography quite late in life, “although I’ve always had a camera and an interest”.
“As a child I was interested in wildlife so about seven years ago I became an avid amateur photographer taking macro (close-up pictures of insects) photos.
“I loved capturing amazing detail of insects that are all around us that people don’t see.
“That has moved into wildlife. I have been lucky enough to go to the Subantarctic and Central America to photograph wildlife.”
“The secret to taking a great shot in my mind is showing people something they haven’t seen before or taking them places they have never been.”
“Mix that with action, for instance a bird flying or feeding its young, and you have put a story to your picture.”
The NIKON / New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography (NZIPP) Iris Awards attract hundreds of entries from around the country and overseas each year.
The awards are highly contested and coveted as they have helped launch and establish many careers. All the entries are judged anonymously over three days by a panel of five judges who include some of the most qualified and renowned local and international photographers.
Chris is also currently the holder of the Colin Rush Cup — Champion Nature Print PSNZ (Photographic Society of New Zealand) Central Region
William C Davies Memorial Trophy — PSNZ Best NZ Natural History Print.
Chris Helliwell with his trophies won at the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographers IRIS Awards.