It was six years ago we met Te Awamutu baby Maddox Parker and his parents Rebecca and John.
Maddox was diagnosed with Leigh syndrome, one of the worst strains of Mitochondrial disease.
It should have been a wonderful Christmas gift for the police officer and professional firefighter - the birth of their second child - but although the couple spent much of their working hours saving lives, they knew they couldn't save their son.
It was Maddox's passing that prompted John to pursue photography seriously.
One year after Maddox passed away John was asked by a friend to take a nice photo of tui.
This simple request led to a one-year project to capture tui in a unique way - and the establishment of a professional photography business - Maddox Photography.
And this month John was announced as the winner of the 2020 NZ Professional Nature Photographer of the Year at the prestigious 2020 Nikon Iris Professional Photography Awards, that took place online on September 14.
"I've always had a love for New Zealand's native birds, but it was the death of my middle child Maddox that inspired me to pursue my passion for bird photography," says John.
"Winning this award is really special as a lot of my images have a lot of emotion behind them and for my audience to make a connection is very humbling."
John says photography helped him with the grief of Maddox's death.
"I needed something and nature photography proved to be the answer."
John says he still feels a great deal of emotion when he is on his own, waiting for the perfect shot, but that emotion is directed into his work.
He spends hundreds of hours around the greater Waikato region photographing the fantastic bird life on offer.
"We are pretty spoilt in the Waikato with some fantastic places to see some really neat birds, Maugatautari Sanctuary Mountain, Mount Pirongia to name a couple."
Along with winning the Nature Category, one of John's photos also took out the highest print score.
The photo titled Ruru Silent Hunter has been three years in the making with multiple visits to a location to photograph a small ruru/morepork population.
"On this particular visit I had been photographing the ruru/morepork but the light was fading quickly so made a decision to call it a day," says John.
"Just as I started to pack up my gear a ruru/morepork flew down from a punga
fern and perched on a kahikatea root with the last of the day's sunlight casting over its face.
"I knew as I pushed the shutter button I was capturing a pretty magical moment."
All the entries are judged anonymously and this year, due to Covid-19, the judging was held online with both a preliminary round and then a live online-judging round spanning nine days.
The rotating panels of five judges included some of the most qualified and renowned local and international photographers.
This year the Nikon Iris Awards attracted an unprecedented number of entries, with close to 3000 images. Entries came from entrants around the country and as far afield as Canada.
The awards are highly contested and coveted as they have helped launch and establish many careers.
John's hope is that his images inspire those who see his work to look more carefully at the world around them and appreciate our amazing fauna and flora.