Highlights from the PSNZ National Convention in Queenstown by Paul Whitham

Queenstown was the second PSNZ convention that I have attended and it was the first where I was fully involved on Council.  Having been involved with the sponsorship portfolio I had a much better understanding of what the organising committee, with the support of our partners (Canon & CR Kennedy), had planned, but I had no appreciation of the standard that they were about deliver. From the very start, to the end, everything was of the highest standard. For an organising committee of four they pulled off an excellent result, and have really smashed the excuse that small clubs cannot organise the national or regional events.

The Remarkables Primary School venue worked out really well, and the mountain weather gods delivered five days of perfect conditions for photography. I am sure that there were lots of prayers said the previous week when the initial forecasts showed rain for Saturday and Sunday. The catering was superb and I have not heard a single negative comment about it.

As I am not a landscape photographer I was a little uncertain about how much I was going to get out of the key speakers particular Andris Apse. I am sure that others had similar feelings about other speakers where there specialty is in a genre that they do not personally shoot. There is also that nagging doubt as to whether their skills in photography translate into speaking.

To be honest standing on the shore front at Lake Wakatipu in the shade of the Remarkables you couldn’t help but be moved by the landscape.

To me, no single speaker stood out because each of them delivered stunning images and thought provoking comments, as well as entertainment. I took things away from every speaker that I will apply in my photography.  I think this is a lesson that all photographers could learn. A lot of the skills needed for one genre are the same for others, and you can learn stuff even if you don’t personally shoot the topic concerned.

There was a great variety in the field trips and in many cases the experience on offer would have cost more than the whole conference fee if booked privately. Some didn’t pan out to be exactly what people thought they were getting into but sometimes improvising is necessary.


This year there was more integration between the fieldtrips and the trade stand holders and this translated into them making gear available for members to try out in real shooting conditions. While Canon have done this for a number of years it was really good to see Nikon and CR Kennedy joining in as well. Everyone seemed to be very happy with this change and I am sure it will continue.


The AGM delivered a very lively debate on where the digital Natex acceptances should be displayed and Council is taking the views on board. Some people like debate and some older members did comment that it was the most exciting AGM in recent years.

The CR Kennedy Honours banquet was a grand affair with one of the highlights being the surprise (to her) award to Lynn Clayton on a well-deserved PSNZ Honory Life Membership. Lynn had not originally planned to attend the convention so quite a few sneaky moves were in place to get her there! Hopefully she has forgiven all those involved in these activities. The entertainment was excellent. It was only a pity that the evening’s formalities ran so long and after a full day of field trips, that most people were too tired to enjoy it fully.

The Convention finished 10 minutes early on the Monday and everyone seemed to be extremely happy with the event. For my portfolio, all of the partners and trade stand holders were happy with the event and we are already planning what they will offer next year in Auckland.

See you all there.


Paul Witham

Councillor for Sponsorship

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