The world is Andy Jenkins' oyster after he won Student Photographer of the Year at the 2022 New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographers' Iris Awards.
Andy completed the New Zealand Diploma in Photography Level 5 in 2021 and followed this up with the Level 6 diploma in 2022.
With a military background as a Combat Engineer, one might be surprised by his love of photography, but his love of travelling played an important part.
"After I left the army, I went overseas and worked on a super yacht where my captain was an ex-photographer and convinced me to buy a camera. That was what kicked everything off, really," he says.
"After I got my first camera, I absolutely loved it and thought it'd be cool to go back into the military as a photographer. I ended up coming back to New Zealand and working before signing up to UCOL here in Palmy."
UCOL was an easy choice, "there aren't many places that offer a Diploma in only photography, instead of full creative. Plus I already had the connections from living here previously, so it just made sense," Andy says.
"It was an awesome experience," he beams, "a bit stressful at times, but I definitely made some mates for life."
"We all had different interests and styles, from family and couples portraits, ethnic weddings, cosplay, newborn and children, through to landscapes and action, through to the other end of the spectrum with a commercial product and advertising photography," he explains.
"Not everyone wants to do the action-adventure style of photography like me, which was great as we went through the course being able to bounce off each other."
"The tutors were amazing too. They push you just the right amount! I've really appreciated that."
Andy encourages others looking to study in a creative field "100 percent take the jump, but be prepared to put in the work, focus, and have a clear idea of what you want to do so you can stand out from the crowd."
In mid-2023, Andy is planning to travel around the South Island, taking photos of his journey. He will then join the Air Force as a photographer.
Being a military photographer is a natural step for Andy, with his zeal for action-adventure photography and his previous army experience.
"That kind of role comes with a lot of travel and is full of experiences and situations that so many other photographers will never get the chance to see, let alone photograph.
Those moments can be filled with emotion for viewers, which perfectly matches with his overall drive –
"I just want to be able to capture moments that elicit an emotional response from people."
New Zealand Diploma of Photography Level 6
provided by UCOL | Te Pūkenga, focuses on the exciting diversity of contemporary professional photography. Students develop advanced knowledge in solving visual problems through idea generation, composition, lighting, and using various equipment; and learn a range of photographic ideas from fashion and advertising through to wedding and portrait, product and still life, documentary and video, architecture and food. Students build an industry portfolio and develop creative talent in a practical, career-focused way. Past students have gone on to craft successful careers in fashion, wedding, portrait, newspaper and architecture, here and abroad.