Shuttersport photographer Chris Symes won Best Single Photo at the TP McLean Sports Journalism Awards in Auckland last week for this photo of a rippa rugby game between Waimea Old Boys and Huia in Motueka in May. Photo: Chris Symes/Shuttersport.

Photographer earns honour at TP McLean Sports Awards


Motueka-based sports photographer Chris Symes has won the Best Single Sports Photo at the TP McLean Sports Journalism Awards in Auckland.

Chris Symes
Chris Symes

Chris, who is contracted by the Nelson Weekly, Waimea Weekly and through Shuttersport won the award with a photograph of a rippa rugby at the Motueka Sports Grounds in May.

A Huia player shows his joy in tagging a Waimea Old Boys girl after a hot pursuit.

“I saw the wee girl take off across the field and the boy chased her for a fair while, like 15 to 20m and then he reached out and ripped her tag and I was able to capture his face which was priceless.”

Chris says the win is something he had wanted for a number of years.

“I’m over the moon – this is my third go at trying to win the TP McLean so to have achieved it is a great feeling.”

The awards are named in the honour of one of New Zealand’s most respected sports journalists, Terry McLean.

The 44-year-old has spent more than 20 years taking sports photos after getting his first image published at 23.

Chris has gone on to regularly photograph All Blacks tests, Black Caps matches Wellington Phoenix games over the years.

“One of the best things was photographing (world golf No 1) Lydia Ko at Clearwater in Christchurch, everyone realised she was on the way up.”

Chris says his favourite sport to photograph is tennis because his mum used to play it and he likes the action shots.

“The mix between the ball, the racquet and the facial expressions is always good or capturing that moment someone hits a winner.”

He says taking a great sports photo comes down to preparation and good fortune.

“There is a lot of luck involved but you need to understand the sport and try to anticipate where the play is going.

“Some sports are easier to do that with like rugby, cricket and soccer but you have to do the hard yards.

Chris says while breaking into photography can be challenging, he hoped his award would show people that even if you live in a small town, you can make an impact.