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2014 Iris stars: Mike Hollman

Mike Hollman tells the story behind the intriguing Silver Award-winning travel image above.

9 November 2014


(C) Copyright Mike Hollman — Travel category — Silver image

Auckland photographer Mike Hollman had plenty to celebrate at this year’s Iris Awards, pulling down both  the Travel category for the second year in a row and topping the Commercial category. Demonstrating his artistic versatility, Mike won the former category with a series of rich black-and-white shots from China, while the later was for a striking portfolio of colour interior images.

The photographer tells the story behind the intriguing Silver Award-winning travel image above.

D-Photo: Where was this shot taken?

Mike Hollman: This shot was taken at Chengkan Village in Huizhou District, Anhui province, China.  I was on my way to explore the Yellow Mountain (Mt Huangshan) and this village is located in the nearby area.

Chengkan village was built 1800 years ago and is renowned for its well-preserved Hui-style residential architecture and its maze-like Fengshui layout. The village has three main streets and 99 lanes criss-crossing its alleys, dwellings, temples, rivers and is surrounded by beautiful misty mountains.

How did the idea to frame the shot like this come about?

The entrance to the main part of the village is an ancient building situated by a river and this window frame is part of this entrance. When I walked passed it instantly grabbed my attention, not only the well-preserved window frame itself, but also the scene through the window.

What was the most challenging part of putting the image together?

Nothing too challenging at all. Pretty much a straight image right out of camera. Just a conversion to black-and-white in Silver Efex Pro 2.

The best travel images tell a story – what story does this image tell for you?

For hundreds of years, this window frame has witnessed the change and the growth of the village and its natural surroundings. It is like a magnifying glass to allow you to look right into those windows and doors in the distance and to witness how past generations lived.

What was your thinking behind making the image black and white?

It was a rainy day when I visited the village and the Hui-style architecture is famously designed with white walls and dark gray tiles. Therefore the scene I captured is very much a monochrome.

What made you select this image as one of your Iris entries?

I thought it was quite strong visually, plus it told a story of how village life had changed very little in this part of China.

What’s your next travel photography destination?

I’m currently planning  a trip to explore some of the western provinces of China. It’s such a diverse country and there’s some beautiful locations to photograph.

What’s the one destination you’ve never shot but are dying to?

There’re so many, but Patagonia is right up there.

Check out more of Mike’s exceptional work at his website