How Canon's EYECON programme has helped shape the life of an up and coming photographer.
Now in its seventh year, the renowned Canon EYECON competition continues to inspire and develop creative talent from high schools and universities throughout New Zealand, enabling students to gain valuable experience and pitch themselves against the best in the field.
The competition offers a prize pool like no other, including cash and Canon product, but most importantly a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend a day on location with a selection of New Zealand’s leading photographers and filmmakers, chosen each year as Canon EYECON Mentors.
EYECON Mentor experience days have ranged from shooting weddings in Hamner Springs, to running the sidelines of an All Blacks game, to flying to Queenstown and capturing remote landscapes. Each experience day gives the EYECON winner a unique chance to not only be involved a live shoot, but gain one on one advice, knowledge and skills to help them grow, develop and learn more about their passion.
We spoke to 2012 EYECON winner and UCOL photography student, Grant Matthew, nearly a year on from winning the national competition, to hear about his EYECON experience and how the programme has helped him grow and develop his photography.
What attracted you to enter the EYECON programme last year?
The EYECON prize pack is probably the biggest draw card to entering the programme. Yes, the cash and prizes are amazing and should be enough reason to enter, but the opportunity to spend time with the three EYECON Mentors is very attractive. Nowhere else is there a chance like that offered and it is very difficult to put a value on it - those opportunities don’t come about very often.
Tell us a bit about your EYECON experience – any highlights?
The EYECON prize meant I could update my equipment and get other toys. The mentor experience days are extremely valuable - to spend one-on-one time with professional photographers out in the field helped me put the different opportunities of each industry into perspective. I was lucky to get my work from one of my mentor days published internationally – so that would have to be a highlight!
Do you feel you have grown as a photographer from the EYECON experience? What have you learnt most?
The EYECON experience has made me realise where I want to take my photography. It makes you push harder because you realise that your goals are obtainable - but not without plenty of hard work.
Have their been any longer term benefits from being involved with EYECON? Has EYECON impacted you beyond the prize and experience days?
My life HAS changed because of the opportunities I have experienced from winning EYECON. I do have a little more confidence in my ability and potential as a photographer but am very weary of complacency. I still have so much more to learn. Other experiences Canon has offered me since winning EYECON has helped my networking. Attending the Canon Media Awards has made me realise other career goals and introducing me to other inspirational photographers has given me valuable advice for my career ahead. It has helped open doors in a sense, but I am well aware that I have to be able to back my work up, so I have to keep pushing to be better.
Would you recommend EYECON to others? Why?
I have recommended EYECON to others. I am encouraging a few secondary students I know to enter this year. I am not sure that they appreciate what winning it will do for them though - that will be a huge surprise! If they are able to win the top prize they are in for a year they will never forget that will boost up for their profile within the industry.
What are you doing now after winning EYEcon in 2012?
I have been working to gain experience within my chosen area of the industry. I am still studying toward gaining my degree at UCOL, with plenty more to learn, but am feeling more comfortable and confident to start working and advance my career.
Do you have any advice for those entering EYECON for the first time?
My advice for anyone thinking of entering EYECON for the first time is simply ‘give it a go’. Somebody has to win it. There are a lot of amazing photographers out there, just make sure you have something to say with your images and it could be you. Good luck!