To create I Am New Zealand, a visual journey from the tip of the North to the bottom of the South Island, Nikon did a call out to locals and tourists, amateurs and professionals from all over New Zealand,
“Send us one a picture which best represents New Zealand in your eyes,” they asked. A great many people responded. The best pictures, alongside their heartfelt comments, were compiled into this book.
Not every photograph is picture perfect by professional standards although the overall quality is very high. But seeing Aotearoa through so many different eyes makes it a special book.
As I leafed through I found some familiar iconic sights. But others surprised and delighted me and gave me ideas for new places I’d like to visit like Juliano Baby’s I am Castle Hill which he captured looking like a great city of stones when driving from Queenstown to Auckland. And Aurore Aguettaz’s I am Mangaweka, a forest scene described as ‘a fairy world where incredible boulders seem to be eaten alive by trees.’
Some pictures were taken on the spur of the moment like Simone Canali’s I Am Catlins. She was driving on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere when all of a sudden hundreds of sheep got in her way. As soon as she hopped out of the car all the sheep stood and stared at her. It was a picture perfect moment.
Other photographers had to make many return visits to try to capture the perfect light. Perseverance paid off and they finally got there just at the right moment for the perfect shot.
Many photographers chose to photograph an unpeopled landscape or one in which man is dwarfed by the mountains or the sea. This is what makes New Zealand so unique and different from other countries which are more heavily populated. We love to see the movement of clouds, magnificent deserted beaches, imposing mountains and the intensely green colour of our bush.
“These images will inspire and uplift –and probably give you the urge to go and find your own camera and start shooting,” it says in the introduction.
But if you are not into photography you could just enjoy taking an armchair journey around New Zealand by looking at the photographs. Or consider giving it as a gift to an overseas friend. All the Royalties from this book are going to the Mental Health Foundation in New Zealand.
I Am New Zealand is by various authors. Imprint Random House. RRP $45
Reviews by Lyn Potter
Parent and grandparent, Avid traveller, writer & passionate home cook