WITH no formal training and only 18 months’ photography experience, Invercargill man Sam Deuchrass has beaten off tens of thousands of entries to make the top five in an international Discovery Channel intern competition.
Mr Deuchrass found out recently his photograph of the Catlins’ Nugget Point lighthouse (pictured above) had made the finals of the competition, which was open New Zealand and Australian residents aged between 18 and 30.
“I had a feeling it was a great shot,” he said.
“It means more to me because it is a local one.”
Two other New Zealand landscapes are in the top five, with the other images from Hawaii and India. The finalists were selected based on a public vote.
Mr Deuchrass’ entry attracted about 75,000 votes, many of which came from the south, he said.
“I was very humbled to get that local support around me. It was great to see people really behind a local guy.”
It had taken six months of planning to capture the shot, he said.
“The Milky Way is only on that angle behind the lighthouse for one week a year.”
The image was created using a 30-second exposure, joining three photographs together to create the panoramic image.
He had been lucky with the weather and that there had been fishing vessels travelling past at exactly the right time shining their lights on the cliffs, he said, so the photo had only required very minor editing.
“I try to get a perfect shot out of the camera.”
He picked up a camera for the first time about 18 months ago and began honing his skills by going on location with professional photographers.
“I just surrounded myself with [professional photographers] who inspired me and learned off them.”
His photographs started attracting worldwide attention after he began posting them on social media, primarily Instagram, he said.
“I got 40,000 followers who came out of nowhere and my photos started getting shared all over the world.”
Winning a National Geographic daily dozen photo competition, selected from more than 90,000 entries, had also helped him gain global attention, he said.
He has since done commercial photography work for companies including Samsung and GoPro, and New Zealand tourism groups, including Venture Southland.
“I was initially surprised. But it has grown naturally. I haven’t been pushing these gigs. Just taking opportunities as they arrive and keeping an open mind.”
The former Southland Boys’ High School pupil is in his third year at Otago University studying politics and marketing management.
He planned to finish university this year before deciding whether to pursue a career in photography, he said.
“I will take any opportunities that do come up and see how it goes.”
In the final stage of the competition, the finalists were interviewed by a Discovery Channel management panel in Sydney.
The winner will tour Singapore, London, Iceland, the United States and Italy, visit the Discovery Network’s headquarters and blog about the trip on the Discovery Channel’s social media channels and soon-to-be launched blog, Heaps of Stuff