Three Bay photographers have won awards at a prestigious annual national photography competition.

Justin Aitken, 38, from Pāpāmoa has won the Wedding In-Camera Artistry category at the 2019 Nikon/NZ Institute of Professional Photography Iris Awards.

It is the third consecutive year that Aitken has won one of the wedding category titles, and he also received a silver distinction and two other silver awards in the same category.

Aitken was also a finalist in the Wedding Open category and received three silvers and a bronze award for his portfolio.


The Nikon/NZIPP Iris Awards are the country's biggest print awards competition for professional photographers and judged over 12 categories, with almost 800 entries.

Other categories included family, portrait, nature, travel, landscape, and illustrative.

Last year Aitken was the 2018 Wedding Photographer of the Year, taking out both the Open and In-Camera Artistry categories and was the Bay of Plenty/Waikato regional winner in 2017.

One of Justin Aitken's photographs which saw him win a prestigious Iris award. Photo / Justin Aitken
One of Justin Aitken's photographs which saw him win a prestigious Iris award. Photo / Justin Aitken

Aitken, who photographs weddings all around the country, said he was stoked to take out one of the titles again.

"You never really know what the five judges will be looking for. It's my eighth year entering, and my heart still beats fast every time one of my prints comes up for judging.

"It's a great opportunity to explore various concepts and ideas and push ourselves to grow and develop as photographers," he said.

Rochelle Withell from Pāpāmoa Beach won a silver and two bronzes in the Wedding In-Camera category as well as a bronze in the Wedding Open Category.

Withell said she and Aitken were friends and shared a "great camaraderie" and congratulated him on his outstanding win.


Pāpāmoa photographer Colleen Kiddie won a bronze award in the Illustrative category.

Marama Shearer, the NZIPP's Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional representative, said it was great to see local photographers among the award winners.

"Justin's work remains innovative and creative and he has demonstrated an ability to elicit an emotional response to his work from the judging panel," Shearer said.