Four Stuff visual journalists are competing for Photographer of the Year at the 2022 Voyager Media Awards. They tell Virginia Fallon their favorite entries and the stories behind the images.
Ross Giblin recently retired after a 45-year career behind the lens while based in Wellington.
“Francis Stewart was living in a car when he heard about the free store at St Peters Church. He went there for help, but now he’s a supervisor collecting leftover food from stores.
“He was such a nice guy who opened up about his incredible story. All of his opinions are really deep-seated, his philosophy of life is very genuine, and I think it shows in the photo; all these religious symbols like the bench, the light, the hands have contributed to its manufacture.
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“A clever interior designer made these halo lights to hang in the church. The only way to spin it with the halo was to crash on the floor and hope for the best.
“I feel like I’ve spent most of my life lying on the ground. Newer cameras have a small swivel screen, but others don’t, so you’re either shooting blind, or lying on the ground, or both like I did here.
“Joseph Millar was New Zealand’s fastest man and I followed him on his quest to qualify for the Olympics – unfortunately a knee injury forced him to retire.
“He’s struggling to cool down, so on a hot summer day, to regulate his body temperature, he douses himself with water. It was beautifully backlit and this crowd of swirling mist was kind of strange cloud around him.
“Joseph was a great sportsman. It’s really good to work with the best in minority sports, as they often don’t get much coverage and tend to work on their own.
“I think it’s a pretty lonely existence for them. Is it the same to be a photographer? Not really.”
Based in Auckland, Ricky Wilson has been a visual journalist for six years.
“The Prime Minister was unveiling a voucher scheme for Aucklanders to go to the zoo, Motat etc. and his publicist installed him in front of the spider monkey enclosure.
“The photographers were joking, we had to take a picture of a monkey in the background and her in the foreground.
“I took about 20 pictures in a row and this is the only picture where he stopped eating and opened his mouth.
“It’s like he’s saying, ‘Look! Oh wow, it’s Jacinda Adern!
“This woman owned a house in Mt Albert and had 300 rabbits on her property. She was ordered by the council to get rid of them all. By the time we arrived she had already gotten rid of them, but there were still 100 left.
“You can see his face is kind of ‘what am I going to do with all those damn bunnies?
“She was so lovely and eager to chat. I love the evening light in this photo; we had tried several times to get it during the day.
“I think I was on the sidewalk when I took this picture. It was a last minute, we were leaving, and I turned around and thought that was perfect: click.
Kevin Stent has been a photographer for around 30 years and is based in Wellington.
“That was the start of everything, the anti-vax protest. We were told there was going to be a big protest, and I doubted it because we often hear that, but it was huge.
“I was in an upstairs bar on the corner of Willis and Mercer St when they hit the road, just this old thing about being in the right place at the right time. It was absolutely deafening and quite bizarre.
“I was also trying to do video, but because they had been doing burnouts for so long, I could do both.
“You’re never sure what you’re going to get when you go to a press job, but this was huge. There was a real feeling and everyone was on edge. The image says it all: it’s quite dramatic, eye-catching and shows off the bikes and the crowd.
“All everyone was talking about in town was the bikes that day, so in this photo you have it all.”
“This photo was taken the day after a fire; the reason it is silhouetted is that another firefighter had turned off his flashlight.
“It’s good to go to breaking news or events where you don’t know what you’re going to get because we’re doing a lot of things that are scheduled; tell people to stand here or do that, do this.
“I could have taken a few pictures and left, but I hung on and something good came out of it.”
David White has been a photographer since 1988 and is based in Auckland.
“This was taken during anti-mandate protests in Auckland mid-2021. Brian Tamaki’s Destiny Church held illegal gatherings in the area and there was a very strong anti-media sentiment there.
“This guy kept standing in front of the camera and giving the bird away; as much as you want to protect your colleagues, you feel compelled to shoot them.
“I had never been in such a situation. Usually it’s the police who try to block your access but this was the first time a mob of New Zealanders thought we were bad and helping the government sell people a lie.
“The past few years have been an incredible time to be a press photographer. It’s such a privilege to be able to document this stuff.
“This is a drone shot of Ōtara Covid testing center during the second lockdown last year when Delta started to raise its head.
“It shows how seriously people were taking the pandemic and how long they were willing to wait in line; a guy had been sitting there with his family for 3.5 hours.
“I just wanted to give an idea of the number of people who show up daily and the work that the people in charge of the tests had to do. They were completely overwhelmed, but they did a great job.