Congratulations to 13th Floor Photographer Veronica McLaughlin!

13th Floor photographer Veronica McLaughlin has won the inaugural Aotearoa Music Photography Prize for her atmospheric image of Delaney Davidson at The Wine Cellar.

The competition was sponsored by The Auckland Festival of Photography and Auckland UNESCO City of Music and is the first time music photographers have been recognised and honoured. And it’s about time! We’ve been featuring great photography from Veronica, Rachel Webb, Chris Zwaagdyk, Ivan Karczewski, David Watson, Michael Flynn and many others for the past ten years. Leonie Moreland has just joined our team. You’ll find their amazing work accompanying most of our concert reviews.

Veronica has been with the 13th Floor from the beginning, in fact, she built the 13th Floor website and is the site publisher. She also writes occasional reviews.

She’s been an event photographer for years and is recognised for her long-time work on the NZ International Film Festival, The Auckland Arts Festival and other events around Auckland.

Originally Veronica didn’t shoot for the 13th Floor, convinced her particular skills didn’t lend themselves to the fast-paced shooting of the pit. But when a shooter couldn’t make it for an Elvis Costello show in 2013, she stepped up and gave it a go. And hasn’t stopped.

These days Veronica finds her favourite shows to shoot are in the small clubs, with The Wine Cellar a special favourite.

Veronica McLaughlinShe says, “I love the intimacy with the artists, getting right up to the stage, immersing myself in the show. Of course the light is always terrible in these places. You have to push the ISO so high to get anything at all. Frustrating at first, I discovered my photographic ‘voice.’ Music, art, life isn’t always pretty, clean and clear. It’s often dark, dirty, gritty, mysterious. I embraced that. Shooting the Delaney Davidson show was a perfect match – he brought the dark gritty moment and I was there to capture it. Kismet!”

Delaney DavidsonDelaney Davidson was thrilled the photo of him has taken first prize and had this to say. “Over the years I’ve done lots of different styles of shows. And I’ve done lots of them in Auckland’s Wine Cellar. It’s a great place to play with ideas and try things out.

This photo is from one of those sweaty packed in close shows and I feel it captures the feeling in the room. A moment where the boundaries of show and life were dissolving and where the people in the room were connected on the same journey through the brief time we spent together. I love to play these small intimate shows where these sort of things are achievable.

Thanks to Veronica for capturing the mood and congratulations on her being selected as the winner for NZ’s Festival of Photography music section.”

He adds that he no longer practices the sage burning depicted in the winning photo – on reflection that it is a rite of indigenous peoples (of the Americas), who burn it in traditional ceremony. Due to exhaustive commercial harvesting by non natives, this sacred herb is now endangered.

You can browse some of Veronica’s shoots for the 13th Floor HERE.

Congratulations also to Doug Peters of Ambient Light for his second place win. A stunning photo of Florence & the Machine, which also ran on The 13th Floor!

A great day for us here at The 13th Floor. And a great day for all the music photographers – shooting in the pit, up all night processing the photos that permanently document the incredibly diverse and vibrant New Zealand music scene – the artists, the clubs and venues.

Here’s a gallery of some of Veronica’s favourites over the last few years.