Flood photos among best

21:45, Sep 03 2012
tim pic
Nelson-based photographer Tim Cuff is among the finalists in this year's national Photographer of the Year awards, on display at Auckland Museum this weekend, including this picture of the impact of Golden Bay flooding.

Taking pictures of a flood-ravaged corner of Golden Bay has got  Nelson-based photographer Tim Cuff into the finals of the New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year awards for the second year running.

His images, along with those from 38 other finalists, went on show at Auckland Museum on Saturday.

Last year he won the photo story category with pictures of a mass pilot whale stranding at Puponga and he's up for the same section this year, as well as the overall award.

Cuff, 48, had a long photographic career with British national newspapers including the Sunday Times before moving to Nelson with his writer wife, Fiona Terry.

''I'm not really a landscape photographer or a wildlife photographer, I'm an editorial photographer.''

He was able to get a place in the first official flood damage assessment flight over Golden Bay  following the December floods and instantly realised ''it was a big deal''.

''It was a sizeable environmental catastrophe.  I could see there was much more picture potential there.''

Some of his aerial pictures were published in the Nelson Mail and other newspapers, and he made the overland trip as soon as access to the Mike Robertson's devastated Wainui Bay  farm was restored more than a week later.

His portfolio includes shots of a truck filled with sand and silt, and the cracked mud on the floor and table of a farm building.

Some of his images from Wainui Bay have since been published in Wild Tomato magazine and New Zealand Geographic.

Cuff's main income is from Wild Tomato and photographic work for the Nelson City Council.

He and Ms Terry decided to come to Nelson after visiting it during a long honeymoon trip 13 years ago and thinking about where they would like to live after returning to their home in Devon.

''The only place that shone out was Nelson,'' he said. ''We've got two little kids and I wouldn't want to bring them up anywhere else.''

The Auckland exhibition, chosen from 3100 entries, allows museum-goers to vote for the People's Choice Award up until the awards night, October 25. 

New Zealand Geographic editor James Frankham said this year's competition was the biggest ever.

"The images were shot in subantarctic islands and backyards, of spiders, whales, surfers and families enjoying the simple pleasures of New Zealand life.

"The judges were like viewers, wanting to be surprised by the photography.

They were wanting to be challenged by the images, and see representations of our cultural environment that they hadn't seen before."

Each of the four category winners receives $1000 with an additional $2000 and a place on an expedition for the overall winner.