Forget Christmas, if there's one day of the year West Auckland photographer Mirjam van Sabben eagerly awaits it's Nikon Auckland Photo Day.

Van Sabben will today be one of dozens out on Auckland's streets - and sports fields, parks, beaches, shopping malls and everywhere in between - trying to capture an image which captures the essence of a day-in-the-life in the country's biggest city.

An integral part of the Auckland Festival of Photography, photo day has been held every year, except 2015, since 2007 and van Sabben has participated in every one. Her landscape photos have thrice been placed in the Top 30 pictures; she placed fourth in 2010 and, in 2014, won the people's choice award.

"So I'm nearly there!"


The competition is open to everyone who has access to a camera and, since last year, has included a category for time-lapse, video or short films.

Van Sabben said the day is a chance to push yourself as a photographer.

"Because you have just 24 hours, you can't decide that the conditions aren't right so you'll pack up, go home and come back tomorrow to try again. It means you're more likely to climb that next hill to see what's over it; if it rains, you find a way to utilise that rain. It makes you move outside of your comfort zone."

But she faces an additional challenge many other participants don't.

A qualified secondary school teacher, she taught for two years before being diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2004 - a condition where pain and chronic fatigue are the main symptoms.

Now unable to work fulltime, van Sabben has dedicated herself - as much as she can - to photography but must pace herself.

She writes on her website: "Pain levels dictate how often I can go out, how far I can travel both by car and on foot, for how long I can carry equipment and what positions my body can be in to take the photos.

"For me, this only adds value to the photographs I've taken, knowing what it has cost me physically, and knowing that despite these limitations, I can still successfully compete against photographers who are more able-bodied."


She said taking part leaves her with an incredible sense of accomplishment.

• To enter Auckland Photo Day, see