Kerikeri photographers have shone once again in the country's top professional photography competition.

Rachel Jordan, Chris Pegman, Dean Wright and Jess Burges won a total of 24 titles in the 2017 Iris Awards, run by the NZ Institute of Professional Photographers.

This image of Kerikeri woman Ella Lawrence-Donaldson modelling rings by Ben Flynn won bronze in the commercial category for Jess Burges. Photo / Jess Burges
This image of Kerikeri woman Ella Lawrence-Donaldson modelling rings by Ben Flynn won bronze in the commercial category for Jess Burges. Photo / Jess Burges

The entries, from the institute's 400-plus members across New Zealand, were judged over a three-day period in Wellington last month.

Mrs Jordan, who specialises in wedding and portrait photography, won nine awards in the illustrative, portrait and wedding categories.

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This photo of a white-faced storm petrel, nicknamed
This photo of a white-faced storm petrel, nicknamed "the Jesus Christ bird" for its apparent ability to walk on water, won Dean Wright a silver award. Photo / Dean Wright

Her gold-winning entry was made with two nude models, one male and one female, who were photographed in her studio in different positions then painstakingly combined to create an image of dozens of intertwined bodies in the shape of a human brain.

This image, representing the male and female sides of humanity, took Rachel Jordan 50 hours to create. Photo / Rachel Jordan
This image, representing the male and female sides of humanity, took Rachel Jordan 50 hours to create. Photo / Rachel Jordan

Photographing the models took just 20 minutes; overlaying the images on her computer took about 50 hours.

"I wanted the image to be a brain representing the two sides of humanity, the female and male energies, and how it co-exists within us," she said.

Osteopath Chris Pegman, an astrophotography hobbyist, took home six awards, including gold with distinction in the landscape division for a night scene of a diver leaping from rocks at a Far North bay.

One of his daughter's friends volunteered to dive off a 10m rock stack at night for an image made by combining six frames. The 20-second exposure reveals the Milky Way while foreground flash illuminates the water, rocks and the diver in mid-flight.

Mr Pegman said he didn't get the timing right first time so the diver had to climb the rock again, this time without a head torch because she had to leave it atop the rock. Luckily she had memorised the positions of the hand holds.

The image, which took about 20 hours to splice together, was taken for an upcoming exhibition at Waitangi Treaty Grounds focusing on Northland's night sky.

A silver-award-winning portrait by Rachel Jordan of a possum hunter with his previous day's catch. Photo / Rachel Jordan
A silver-award-winning portrait by Rachel Jordan of a possum hunter with his previous day's catch. Photo / Rachel Jordan

Five awards for Dean Wright, who specialises in high-end property photography, included two silvers with distinction in the landscape division and silver for a nature photo of a white-faced storm petrel seen off Nine Pin in the Bay of Islands.

The birds are nicknamed "the Jesus Christ bird" for their apparent ability to walk on water while they feed.

Jess Burges won bronze for this photo of an Okaihau couple's wedding day. Photo / Jess Burges
Jess Burges won bronze for this photo of an Okaihau couple's wedding day. Photo / Jess Burges

Mr Wright said the beauty of the awards was that they encouraged him to be creative and shoot photos he wouldn't otherwise take.

Ms Burges, a wedding and portrait photographer, took home four bronzes in the portrait, wedding and commercial categories.

She attended the awards for the fourth time this year, saying the chance to spend time with so many great photographers was motivating and inspiring.

"It pushes you to keep improving your work," she said.