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Kiwi scoops grand photography prize at Sony Alpha Awards
Thu, 9th Jul 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Keen photographers from all over Australasia took great care to create the perfect snap for this year's fifth annual Sony Alpha Awards, but it was the gritty, moody work of one Kiwi that caught the judges' eyes and won the grand prize.

Wanaka-based Oscar Hetherington won this year's award for his seascape photo, called ‘Back Wash'. He's the fourth consecutive Kiwi to win the grand prize – and $10,000 worth of Sony camera gear to boot.

"As soon as New Zealand came out of lockdown, I went swimming with friends off the coast of the Otago Peninsula. I was fascinated by the current and power shown in the back of a wave and wanted to capture the force and spray of water droplets as a wave crashes towards land. I love the composition and colours in this image and it shows the power of the ocean just before it meets land,” says Hetherington.

What made Back Wash so powerful? World Photography Organisation CEO and panel judge explains his thoughts:

"It is very difficult to capture a single image which is engaging, elegant and timeless which is why I chose Oscar Hetherington's “Back Wash”. The sea is a vast, breath-taking, intimidating and constantly changing force that is difficult to compartmentalise into a single image and I believe this image goes a long way in achieving that; it is both breath-taking and calm. A wonderful angle and really succinct frame; it is an image that will stand the test of time and one would ever tire of looking at it.”

A mix of New Zealand and Australian participants took out awards across the 12 other categories, but only after all entries were scrutinised by a panel of 26 judges.

“Every year we are blown away with the high calibre of work that the Sony photography community produce, and 2020 has been no exception,” comments Sony Digital Imaging ANZ head Jun Yoon.

“With this year's competition welcoming entries from new categories including Compact Camera and Creative, we are excited to recognise and celebrate the talents and passions of all our Sony cameras users, no matter their gear of choice. We can't wait to see what next year has in store.

This year's youth award was also snapped up by a Kiwi from Blenheim by the name of Alex Marshall. Marshall's photo ‘A Celebration of Solitude' was shot using the Alpha 6400 SEL1670Z lens.

Judge Tyson Mayr comments, “The theme for the final challenge was Solitude and…  I chose Alex Marshall's image as the winner. His use of leading lines and overall composition drew my eye immediately to the subject, who perfectly encapsulated the theme."

"Staring at his image, I actually felt as though I was out there by myself, with not a person in sight. [These] are some of the highest quality images I have seen yet and I can't wait to follow these young photographers' careers.”

The winners for the 2020 Sony Alpha Awards are:

  • Grand Prize: Oscar Hetherington, NZ
  • Astrophotography: Laurie Winter, NZ
  • City/Street: David Symonds, AU
  • Compact Camera: Gary White, AU
  • Creative: Grant Galbraith, AU, 
  • Editorial: Ilan Wittenberg, NZ
  • Landscape: Jesse Little, AU
  • Nature: Simon Runting, NZ
  • Portrait: Judi Thies, AU
  • Sport: Scott Barbour, AU
  • Seascape: Karl Dalyell, AU
  • Wedding: Benjamin Lane, NZ
  • Youth: Alex Marshall, NZ