Moko man's winning smile

By Logan Zimmerman

Judges were overwhelmed with options while choosing this year's winning shot from the annual Nikon Auckland Photo Day.

There were a record-breaking number of entries this year, featuring pictures taken around Auckland over 24 hours on June 9.

In the end, one image stood out from the rest - depicting an aspect of everyday life in the Super City.

"Don't Worry, Be Happy" is a close-up black and white image of a man with traditional moko and a genuine smile enjoying the atmosphere during the anti-nuclear peace celebrations in Aotea Square.

The winning photo was taken by Lee Copas who says it was more about luck than anything.

"I didn't plan to be in Aotea Square," Mr Copas says. "I was wandering back to my car when I encountered this good-natured gentleman who I felt blended in perfectly with the peaceful celebrations taking place there.

"I'm particularly attracted to street photography because it's the chance to capture people in their most natural, relaxed state."

Mr Copas receives a Nikon D7000 Kit with 18-105 lens for his efforts.

The judges were Ken Newell, product manager at Nikon, as well as photographers Kellie Blizard, The Aucklander's chief photographer, and Chris Trail of FNZIPP.

More than 1500 entries were submitted during the Auckland Festival of Photography event, and the judges then narrowed that number down to the top 30.

"Although there was a lot of debate earlier on, while selecting the final 30, then the final 10, in the end, the final one was a bit easier," Ms Blizard said. "It was very well executed and engaging ... and technically very good."

The judges were impressed by the general quality of entries and noted "the high calibre of photographers across all ages and experiences and the range of moods and expressions".

Takapuna resident Karen Larsen took second-place for her photograph of an elderly individual enjoying a Saturday morning at home titled "A Day in Bed," and Angela Taft of Torbay was named third-place for her "Chasing the Birds" - of a toddler and his encounter with a flock of seagulls.

"It is amazing to see such a broad spectrum of life in Auckland across one day from a multitude of photographers' styles and viewpoints in this diverse city," Elaine Smith, Auckland Festival of Photography spokesperson says. "The quality and originality of the images gets better every year."

The top 30 are online at


- The Aucklander

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