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Behind the scenes with the judges of 2015 Sigma D-Photo Amateur Photographer of the Year

The 2015 Sigma D-Photo Amateur Photographer of the Year awards are announced in the issue of D-Photo in stores from July 20. We talk to judges Terry Cockfield, Charles Howell, and Bianca Duimel about their experience on this year's judging panel and let you know a little bit more about them

20 July 2015


2015 winning image: Hilary Lakeman

The 2015 Sigma D-Photo Amateur Photographer of the Year awards are announced in the issue of D-Photo in stores from July 20. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners. As you will soon see by the quality of the winners, it was not an easy task for our judging panel to select their top three picks per category. We talk to judges Terry Cockfield, Charles Howell, and Bianca Duimel about their experience on this year’s judging panel and let you know a little bit more about them.

Terry Cockfield

Terry Cockfield is a retired telecommunications engineer. He got hooked on photography when he got his first camera, a Baby Brownie, when he was about 11 years old.  He soon started experimenting with black-and-white processing using improvised equipment. Gradually, as time and money allowed, he moved on to owning an enlarger and eventually to colour processing.  Now, of course, he works digitally.  “My technology background helps with the inherent cussedness of computers,” Cockfield says. Subject-wise he enjoys landscapes, people, and animals — especially wild ones. “That applies to all three categories,” he says. “I’ve found learning opportunities, incentives, and good friends in camera clubs and the Photographic Society of New Zealand (PSNZ), to which I’ve belonged for the high side of 40 years.  I taught a photography night class for six years and have been an accredited PSNZ judge for about 35 years.”

Charles Howells

Charles Howells has worked as a fashion and beauty photographer and has been sought by international brands in the US, Australia, Asia, and here in New Zealand. His work appears in top fashion magazines including Harper’s Bazaar, Karen, Grazia, Pilot, and Black. He’s also worked for advertising clients including Coke, Microsoft, Sony Japan, Samsung, 42 Below, L’Oreal, and plenty more. He began as an art photographer and honed his skill and command of lighting through still life in the form of automobiles, food, and interiors. He packed up and moved to New York in 2001 to pursue his passion for capturing people and after he’d gained experience with large sets and budgets, as well as retouching, he moved back to New Zealand in 2005 to shoot advertising campaigns and fashion and beauty and in 2007, Charles opened White Studios the popular studio facility.

Bianca Duimel

Bianca Duimel has worked in the photographic industry for 30 years, starting out  in a large lab developing film, mixing chemicals, and printing in a darkroom. From there she moved into camera sales, and  bought her first glamour- and family-portrait studio in 1995. She has owned two studios since then and currently operates a purpose-built home family-portrait studio, as well as Flaunt — a glamour and portrait studio in Newmarket. She loves to create digital fine art and also teach photography and composite photography, as well as host Photoshop workshops. Duimel is A Fellow and Master with the NZIPP, and last year she was on the judging panel at the Iris Awards.

The judging process:

The judges said that the process was an amazing visual journey with an incredible amount of entries to choose from featuring a lot of talent in all of the categories. It was great to be able to see and enjoy so many good pictures from so many talented photographers. The level of skill in the Junior category was noted as well — it was great to see such talent in the 16–24 years old age bracket coming through and exhibiting in the competition.

Images varied from wet-plate and in-camera photography to creative composites, showing the diversity that is now found in the photographic medium. Duimel said that once the process got down to choosing  favourites from favourites, it became more difficult, however most choices were made unanimously.

Cockfield said that the hard part of the process was objectively judging such diverse material. For anything other than a pure record image, the objective is to grab and influence the viewer’s emotions — but emotions are subjective and judges, as with all viewers, react to different ‘hooks’.Basically the judging process was one of elimination. In the initial viewings, each of the judges aimed to see that any image they saw as a possible finalist was carried through to the more analytical stages. They then discussed and debated before democracy took its course and we voted.As one of the panel Cockfield said that he was mostly happy with the results, but he did lose some arguments!Finally, the judges congratulate all the entrants and they hope that everyone got as much enjoyment from taking, selecting, and processing images as they did from seeing them.