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Aotearoa Music Photography Award - Winners Announced!!!

The Auckland Festival of Photography and Auckland UNESCO City of Music Aotearoa Music Photography Award | Whakaahua Puoro Toa competition are proud to announce the 2021 Award winning image of Kiwi musician Delaney Davidson, by photographer Veronica McLaughlin, with Doug Peters taking out second place with his image of UK musician Florence Welch (Florence + The Machine).

Veronica McLaughlin, a native-born New Yorker, moved to Auckland in 1994 and made Aotearoa her home. A free-lance photographer, writer and co-owner/publisher of the 13th Floor website, Veronica began her professional photography career shooting music with an Elvis Costello concert at the Civic in 2013. She has since captured tens of thousands of music images, from hundreds of big shows such as Mt Smart Stadium and Spark Arena, to first-timers in tiny K’ Rd clubs. Along the way, she discovered that she prefers the smaller venues;

“…the intimacy with the artists, getting right up to the stage, immersing myself in the show. Of course the light is always terrible in these places, and I found myself pushing the ISO higher and higher in order to keep up my speed. Then trying to process the photographs into ‘proper’ concert photos – impossible. That’s how I discovered my photographic voice. Music, art, life isn’t pretty, clean and clear. It’s often dark, dirty, gritty and mysterious. I embraced that. Shooting the Delaney Davidson show was a perfect match – he brought the dark gritty moment and I was there to capture it. Kismet!”

Two-time Aotearoa Music Award winner Delaney Davidson is pleased that the image of him performing at The Wine Cellar, Auckland helped Veronica win the $1500 cash first prize for the inaugural Music Photography Award, although he adds that he no longer practices burning sage on reflection that it is a rite of indigenous people (of the Americas) who burn it in traditional ceremony, and due to exhaustive commercial harvesting by non-natives, the sacred herb is now endangered.

The runner up winner of the Master & Dynamic 0.95 MW65 Leica Edition Wireless Headphones (RRP $769) went to photographer Doug Peters. Doug has been shooting live music for over 20 years, and is the founder of music website Ambient Light where he also works part-time as an editor and sometimes photographer for some of the biggest names in music, including Elton John, U2, Billie Eilish, Iron Maiden, Coldplay and the Foo Fighters to name but a few.

By day, he works in the television industry, and in his spare time dabbles in fashion photography, shooting for website Doug is a staunch Canon DSLR user with various lenses for all his live music photography, and has just invested in the Leica medium format digital system for his portrait and fashion work.

Award judges Mark Roach & Maryanne Bilham said “We were blown away by the outstanding quality of the photography entered. It was no easy task to whittle down over 600 entries into a long-list let alone select a winning shot, and we want to commend everyone who entered. After a lot of consideration and debate, we settled on the incredibly evocative shot of Delaney Davidson by Veronica McLaughlin. Both her winning shot, and the runner-up image of Florence Welch by Doug Peters, were selected because of the stories they weave. The photographs also have a high degree of technical skill and perfectly judged artistry.

The shots are, in a manner of speaking, two sides of the same coin. Both shows depicted are in Auckland, with Davidson in beloved grassroots venue, The Wine Cellar; Welch in the far more cavernous Spark Arena. The Welch show is set in a pre-Covid international touring world, whereas Davidson's is in a post-first lockdown emergence. Yet despite the differences of time and scale, there is an innate similarity captured here; of artists captured in a sacred space, seemingly invoking the muse, lost in the magic. Our heartiest congratulations to Veronica on winning the inaugural Aotearoa Music Photography Award, and we look forward to seeing more of her work in the future”

The competition was open to all New Zealand based professional and community photographers, with the theme of music and the event is part of the public projects of the 2021 Auckland Festival of Photography programme, which is free to attend and hosted in various locations around Auckland from 3 – 20 June.

Wrapping up NZ Music Month, the Awards Prizegiving function was held in Auckland on Friday 28 May at STUDIO SPACE (STUDIO 58) / Scott Lawrie Gallery (thanks to Stephen Tilley, Caroline Brown and Scott Lawrie) with refreshments provided thanks to Parrotdog and Paritua. Special thanks to major sponsors Auckland UNESCO City of Music, and AudioCulture, event partners and contributors (details below) and to all those that entered.

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