Aotearoa Music Photography Award winners announced


Main picture: Delaney Davidson by Veronica McLaughlin

The Auckland Festival of Photography and Auckland UNESCO City of Music Aotearoa Music Photography Award | Whakaahua Puoro Toa competition are proud to announce the 2021 Award winning image of Kiwi musician Delaney Davidson, by photographer Veronica McLaughlin, with Doug Peters taking out second place with his image of UK musician Florence Welch (Florence + The Machine).

Veronica McLaughlin, a native-born New Yorker, moved to Auckland in 1994 and made Aotearoa her home. A free-lance photographer, writer and co-owner/publisher of the 13th Floor website, Veronica began her professional photography career shooting music with an Elvis Costello concert at the Civic in 2013. She has since captured tens of thousands of music images, from hundreds of big shows such as Mt Smart Stadium and Spark Arena, to first-timers in tiny K’ Rd clubs. Along the way, she discovered that she prefers the smaller venues;


Two-time Aotearoa Music Award winner Delaney Davidson is pleased that the image of him performing at The Wine Cellar, Auckland helped Veronica win the $1500 cash first prize for the inaugural Music Photography Award, although he adds that he no longer practices burning sage on reflection that it is a rite of indigenous people (of the Americas) who burn it in traditional ceremony, and due to exhaustive commercial harvesting by non-natives, the sacred herb is now endangered.


Award judges Mark Roach & Maryanne Bilham said, “We were blown away by the outstanding quality of the photography entered. It was no easy task to whittle down over 600 entries into a long-list let alone select a winning shot, and we want to commend everyone who entered. After a lot of consideration and debate, we settled on the incredibly evocative shot of Delaney Davidson by Veronica McLaughlin. Both her winning shot, and the runner-up image of Florence Welch by Doug Peters, were selected because of the stories they weave. The photographs also have a high degree of technical skill and perfectly judged artistry.

The shots are, in a manner of speaking, two sides of the same coin. Both shows depicted are in Auckland, with Davidson in beloved grassroots venue, The Wine Cellar; Welch in the far more cavernous Spark Arena. The Welch show is set in a pre-Covid international touring world, whereas Davidson’s is in a post-first lockdown emergence. Yet despite the differences of time and scale, there is an innate similarity captured here; of artists captured in a sacred space, seemingly invoking the muse, lost in the magic. Our heartiest congratulations to Veronica on winning the inaugural Aotearoa Music Photography Award, and we look forward to seeing more of her work in the future”

Runner up image: Florence + The Machine by Doug Peters