Karolina Stus, from Nikau Valley, has won a newly established category in the prestigious national Nikon Iris Professional Photography Awards.
The expressive category allowed photographers to use mixed media into their photographic work.
"I'm super excited to win this category in particular," Stus said.
"We have an amazing community of artists in Kāpiti and bringing this trophy to the district means a lot to me as an artist."
One of the three winning photographs that made up her expressive submission won gold with distinction.
The photograph, which tried to capture the movement of a dancer, used encaustic wax and cheesecloth.
"It was the highest scoring print entry for that category and received 98 points.
"The maximum is 100 points so it was pretty cool."
Close to 3000 images were entered into this year's awards from around the country and overseas.
All the entries are judged anonymously and this year, because of Covid-19, the judging was held online with a preliminary round and then a live online-judging round spanning nine days.
The awards are highly contested and coveted as they have helped launch and establish many careers.
"The awards give photographers an opportunity to push the boundaries, and to see how their work stacks up against the others in the industry," New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography's Kaye Davis said.
"Each year the standard gets higher, and this year was no exception, with some incredible images being judged and awarded."
Stus, who won other awards too, became passionate about photography after coming to New Zealand from her home country Poland in 2011.
"My eldest son, who is 12, has autism, and photography was part of our communication.
"It was really the only way we could communicate between each other in the early years.
"That was the start point for my photography and then it just became my passion and then career.
"It's totally different to my qualification as a sports physio.
"But I've still bringing that [sports physio] onboard.
"Photography isn't just making a photo but helping people to feel better about themselves."
Meanwhile construction of Karolina's new photographic studio, which started in February, is nearing completion.
"I've actually been helping my builder and have been working every day on the site.
"I hope the studio will be a space that other photographers, and creative people, can use.
"I'm really looking forward to finishing it and starting to use it."