ACCEPTED: Maree Wills is elated at her success at this year’s North Shore Salon of Photography competition. Photo John Morin D8659-07

SUCCESS at one of New Zealand’s most prestigious photography competitions has left Whakatane photographer Maree Wills elated.

One of her images won its category, and seven others placed or received acknowledgement.

The annual North Shore Salon of Photography competition draws professional and amateur entries from New Zealanders living at home and abroad, with success in the event considered hard to come by.

Having entered the event before, but with little success, Maree says she entered again this year with just one goal in mind – to achieve acceptance for one of her images. Acceptances are awarded to images that, while not receiving a placing, are outstanding.

She was busy painting the family bach when she received an email sent by the salon ahead of the awards event. Maree says the success she’d achieved was absorbed one step at a time.

“First thing I saw was that I’d won an acceptance, and I was so excited about that, I was very happy. But then I saw another one, and another one, and then a bronze place, and then I saw I’d won gold. It was just fantastic.”

Of the 11 images Maree submitted, eight of them earned recognition. She received five acceptances across the eight categories in the competition, a bronze in the People category, along with a highly recommended in the same category and gold in the Street category, for her image titled A Man and his Cats.

Maree, who is president of the Whakatane Camera Club, describes the focus of her work as travel and nature.

“They are my passions, and with travel I use photography to capture the essence of worlds that are very different to my world.”

Having “dabbled” with photography for around 15 years, Maree says her love of the craft began with snaps taken to record her and husband Paul’s overseas trips.

“It grew from there. I came to realise there was a whole craft within that and I wanted to develop that craft and use it to more closely document the way people live, to capture the lives of people living in cultures that are very different to our own.”

Travelling extensively in Europe, Asia and Africa with Paul, Maree says she is always the tail-end-Charlie. “I’m always looking at things through the lens of a camera and you see so much more. You see things differently. You notice all the little things. Nothing gets brushed over. I’m often shocked by how many things people didn’t see, that they’ve missed, when we’re talking later.”

She says her success has come at a good time.

“I’ve been feeling ready to go further with my photography and winning something like this gives you confidence. It’s affirming.”

Entries to the North Shore Salon of Photography competition fall into eight separate categories, with the 2019 competition attracting over 1600 entered images.

By Lorraine Wilson