Auckland photographer IIan Wittenberg has won the prestigious title of 2018 regional photographer of the year – Auckland / Northland from the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography (NZIPP).

The award goes to the Auckland and Northland NZIPP member with the highest accumulated score from their four top prints in the annual NZIPP Iris Professional Photography Awards.

Held in Wellington this year, the Iris Awards is New Zealand’s only professional photography competition.

The aim of the awards is to recognise and honour the best in contemporary photography from New Zealand and overseas.

The awards showcase cutting-edge imagery and top, creative photographic talent. They celebrate excellence, providing a platform for recognition within the industry and the wider public.

Further, the event raises the profile of photography throughout New Zealand, providing an annual showcase of superb imagery and creative photographic talent.

It also provides an excellent opportunity for photographers to gain widespread exposure for the fruits of their creative efforts.

The Iris Awards are open to all photographers in New Zealand, and to members of approved overseas professional photography organisations, who can up to 10 prints across a range of categories.

All prints are judged in an open forum over a three-day period, the best of which are awarded gold, silver and bronze awards.

*Here is one of Ilan’s award winning prints – with an explanation by Ilan:

Beauty and the Beast

I met Catalin and Elena at the Takapuna Sunday market and this is the result!

Catalin’s message for life is written on his face – and his head – in Times Roman: “another beautiful day”, his first face tattoo, on his forehead, beneath “watch your thoughts” in large italics, circling his shaven head.

Below his right eye, a clearly defined “look within” contrasts with a vertical “un-comfort” running from above the left
eye down his cheek but divided by the eyebrow.

And the word FREEDOM is highly visible around his neck. His message is “it doesn’t matter what you look like. You
don’t have to impress people. Look within yourself. Respect each other. Don’t give up on dreams”.

He dropped out of school at 17, having developed depression because of back injuries. By the age of 18, he began using alcohol and drugs, because “that was the message in the media”.

At 21, he decided to run away from his problems and went to Australia. There he was arrested three times and collected minor convictions for bad behaviour.

Then “it all changed”. He left behind his bad associates, stopped using alcohol and drugs, and focused on “being the
best I could be, every day”.

His mission is to “inspire and motivate teenagers and young adults to make wise decisions, stay on the right path and never give up on dreams”.

Read more about Ilan and his work and see more of his photographs here