Richard Wood has joined an elite class of photography grandmasters - the youngest person to achieve such an honour and one of only six in the country.
He received the title during last week's New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography (NZIPP) Awards in Auckland, which included judging, classes and celebrations.
Recipients were decided using a system whereby points were awarded and added to a photographer's tally every time one of their images gained a place in a category.
"Bronze is one point, silver two and gold three - when you accumulate 10 points you are made an associate; 20 points you are a master of photography, after 30 points you are a fellow; if you achieve fellow six times you are awarded grand master," he said.
"It means I am one of the top photographers in the country."
In five years of entering the annual competition, Mr Wood has excelled, pushing boundaries and impressing a panel of experts.
He has also been nominated for NZ photographer of the year four times, winning it once in 2011.
But there was little time to relax or bask in the glory of his successes. Mr Wood will start thinking about next year's entries almost immediately.
"Going to the competition starts the creative process, I am inspired by a lot of things, last year it was Homer's The Odyssey, but it's also history, music, film, my daughter Emily."
Of the 10 disarmingly beautiful works entered in 2013, he took home a gold with distinction in the classic portrait category, for a photo of Emily, with an armful of dolls. It was one of four images to be scored more than 95 per cent by judges, out of 1300 entries.
There was also a bronze, four silvers and four silvers with distinction.
"When I won photographer of the year, the odd person called me a digital artist, so the year after I set out to win classic portrait and I have several golds in that category, this time I went got a real mix of entries."
Most of the dark and brooding images were inspired by his muse, a close friend who recently passed away.
View more of Mr Wood's works on the new website: www.richardwood.co.nz