The National Library is defending the appointment of a retired electrical engineer as official photographer of the Christchurch earthquakes, and says his appointment had nothing to do with him being the husband of the parliamentary librarian.
Professional photographers are concerned an amateur has been assigned to document the official images of such a significant event.
Ross Becker was commissioned by the National Library to capture a record of damage in the aftermath of the earthquake in September 2010. His services were retained after the earthquake on February 22 last year.
Becker is married to Moira Fraser, who was parliamentary librarian for 12 years until December.
She now has her own consulting business and runs BeckerFraserPhotos with Becker, calling themselves "Documentary photographers and digital curators".
On a website profile last year, Becker described himself as "a retired electrical engineer turned photographer" who has "taken many pictures of library functions and conferences" and "photos of the NZ Parliament and of parliamentary functions".
This profile was later changed to say Becker was "a fulltime documentary photographer".
President of the institute of professional photographers, Mike Langford, said: "The fact the National Library chose to send someone down who is at best an amateur to cover something so important is slightly appalling to all of us.
"His work is pretty average, to be honest. There are definitely people out there who can do better. In terms of looking at the history of the event, I don't think he's captured any of the extremity of it."
Becker said his employment by the library was "nothing to do with anyone but me and the National Library" and referred all questions to the library.
In an email from present National Librarian Bill McNaught to photographer Anthony McKee, McNaught said he had "complete trust in Becker's competency for the assignment".
The office of the auditor-general has told McKee it was satisfied with the procedure for selecting Becker.
McNaught said Becker was self-taught but had been "generating commissioned work for 30 years" and was well respected in the library sector.
- © Fairfax NZ News
If you were voting for a new Christchurch mayor today, who would you vote for?Related story: Dalziel and Parker set for mayoral race