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November 2019 Issue
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Kiwi photographer snaps big award

James Muir’s award-winning image Fresh Ice, Liquid Salt. Photo: James Muir

A moment which brought a Kiwi videographer to tears has won him a major photography award.

Coromandel’s James Muir snapped the emotive image of an Antarctic iceberg on a “dream come true” voyage to the continent with Forest & Bird. 

He was playing Scrabble at the bar when the captain announced the ship was approaching an iceberg – the first spotted on the voyage.

The patrons emptied out onto the deck, but, convinced it would just be a small block of ice, Muir remained absorbed in his game with friends.

“Then someone popped their head in and said ‘James, get up here – it’s huge’,” he said.

Muir ran downstairs for his camera and emerged onto the deck just in time to see the enormous iceberg.

“It was about 10 or 12 stories tall – it dwarfed the ship,” Muir said.

He snapped four or five images before the moment overwhelmed him.

“The moment, the power and beauty of it, was incredible – it blew me away,” he said.

It was the first time Muir – who had dreamed of visiting Antarctica since he was six – had ever seen an iceberg.

He believes the emotion he felt in the moment was captured through the lens, and decided to enter the photograph into the Seascape category of the 2019 Sony Alpha Awards.

When his name didn’t come up at the Sydney awards night, Muir thought he would go home empty-handed – the last thing he expected was to take home the Grand Prize and over $10,000 of photography gear.

“I was very surprised by the win – I felt like I was in a room full of very serious photographers,” he said.

Muir runs a charitable trust called Coromandel Film Collective from his home in Matarangi.

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