A Papamoa Beach wedding and portrait photographer has won a prestigious industry award.

Justin Aitken, a 36-year-old father of two, was recently named the 2017 NZ Institute of Professional Photographer's Bay of Plenty/Waikato Regional Photographer of the Year.

He also won the Wedding Creative category award.

This was the seventh year he had entered the awards, which were judged over 12 categories of entry and attracted more than 1000 national and overseas entries, Mr Aitken said.

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 Justin Aitken, with his wife Bianca and children Sienna, 2, and Zavier, 1, is the 2017 NZ Institute of Professional Photography's Waikato/Bay of Plenty Region Award winner. Photo/George Novak
Justin Aitken, with his wife Bianca and children Sienna, 2, and Zavier, 1, is the 2017 NZ Institute of Professional Photography's Waikato/Bay of Plenty Region Award winner. Photo/George Novak

"I have won golds and silvers before but never a category or a regional award, and they are quite exclusive awards so it means a lot to be rated so highly among your peers.

"It's certainly great to have on my CV and has helped to boost bookings," he said

South African-born Mr Aitken said he had always been passionate about photography and pursued his interest part time for many years.

"But being made redundant from my graphic design job about 10 years ago catapulted into a fulltime career as a wedding and family portrait photographer," he said.

"As soon as I launched my own business I remember thinking it was meant to be, and I should have done it years ago. It's a career that definitely fits in with my personality and my lifestyle."

Mr Aitken, who made his home in New Zealand in March 2003 after travelling the world, moved from Auckland to Tauranga with his wife and children 18 months ago.

He, his wife Bianca, also orginially from Durban, and their children
Sienna, 2, and Zavier, 1, love Tauranga, especially living near the beach.

Mr Aitken described his style of photography as "documentary or telling a story", and also grabbed every opportunity to showcase New Zealand landscape in his photos

"I love New Zealand's landscape and often put it into the frame," he said.

"One well-known saying in the world of portrait photography is that the most important thing you need to do is to click with the people you are photographing before you start clicking the shutter. It's something I always remembered and live by," he said.

A post on the NZ Institute of Professional Photography Facebook page said Mr Aitken won his regional award by receiving the highest aggregate from his top four prints.

"It is an awesome achievement and something that we can all aspire to do for 2018," the post read.

The NZIPP Photographer of the Year award went to Richard Wood and the International Photographer of the Year to Kelly Tunney.

To see more of Mr Aitken's award winning photographs check out his Facebook page or www.justinaitken.com.