It was the encouragement of her grandmother that prompted Heather Feary to enter a major national photographic competition - and she walked away with one of the major trophies.

The Rotorua photographer won the Ronald D Woolf Youth Award for the Best Print by an under-25-year-old in the 2014 Photographic Society of New Zealand's annual Canon National Exhibition competition.

Miss Feary only has a few years of experience under her belt since graduating with a degree in Applied Visual Imaging majoring in photography from Palmerston North's UCOL, but has her future direction clearly mapped out.

She entered the competition at the encouragement of her photographer grandmother, Alison Viskovic, and she's glad she did.


Her image, Hand Lady of the Forest, wowed the judges.

"I love fashion photography myself, but I particularly enjoy editing and retouching and hope to make a freelance career out of that," Miss Feary said.

"I have already done a lot of retouching work for other photographers in New Zealand and also in the UK."

Ms Feary took up photography in high school and successfully completed NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3 in photography.

Since leaving school, she has explored all genres of photography through her UCOL programme and said she did "really well".

In order to network with other photographers so she could share her own work, get feedback and opinions, Miss Feary established a "Photographers Community" page on Facebook and in two years there's already more than 1000 photographers connected and sharing information.

Her award will see her fly to Blenheim to attend the National Convention with the more than 200 fellow photographers already registered, and guest speakers.

She said she was looking forward to attending and receiving her trophy, as well as catching up with grandma, who will also attend the convention.