National finalist in student photography competition


Congratulations to Year 11 El Parkin, whose image was selected as one of the top ten nationally in Stills Student Photography Competition – ‘Altered’ category.

El has been taking photos since about Year 7, having grown up watching their Mum complete a photography qualification and going out on photography trips with her. But this is the first time they have ever entered a competition. When El’s mother suggested they enter Stills, El decided to give it a go, submitting their image ‘Emotional Trap’ in the ‘Altered’ category. 

‘Emotional Trap’ by El Parkin – National Finalist ‘Altered Image’ category – Stills Student Photography Competition — Image by: El Parkin

It took a willing model, her mother’s Nikon D750 and a couple of hours of editing, working to bring their concept to just the right look and feel. 

“What I was trying to go for in the image is that usually when you feel anger or you show that you’re visibly angry, a lot of the time the reason behind it can be because other emotions play a part in it,” she said. “Like when you feel sad because of something and you can’t physically show it, or tell anyone about it, you kind of feel like it’s bottled up and trapped inside you. And a lot of the time when sadness builds up, you end up showing it as anger, and you can accidentally take it out on people because you’re not sure how to actually talk about your emotions and show how you feel them. What you’re used to is bottling up that sadness and over time it just builds up into anger. And so that’s what I did with the blue over top, representing the sadness. It looks like inside, the person is screaming, they’re really upset. And the red just shows that they’re physically showing their anger towards someone.”

It was a beautiful surprise for El finding out that they had made it to the top ten nationally. 

“Honestly, I couldn’t believe it at the time, but I was still really excited and honestly proud of myself and surprised that I made it to the top ten. They even posted all of the photos, and seeing everyone else’s like entries, and then mine, kind of felt like it was a lucky thing because everyone else’s seemed so much better. It might have been because I looked at mine too often! But overall I was just really happy, surprised and proud of myself. I showed it to my mum and she went and showed my family,” she said laughing.

El has been taking Art, and now photography, since Year 9, and they have had Geri Sheppard as their teacher all the way through. “Whaea Geri was my photography teacher this year so she has been amazing and supported me a lot,” they said.

In the future El is looking at a career in law, or perhaps social work that requires an understanding of law, all with the hopes of being able to help people. However, whatever career path they end up on, El would love to be able to do photography as a side job… “like something I do in my spare time and maybe earn something from it. And if I don’t, that’s fine, because I would love to just take photos for people and make them happy.”

Congratulations El and we wish you all the best for your career and photography pursuits in the future!

About Stills

Stills launched in 2021, and is the newest platform by the team at Rockquest Promotions. This team is also behind Showquest, Smokefreerockquest, Smokefree Tangata Beats, Rockshop Bandquest and OnScreen.
Stills is designed to be a creative outlet for students across Aotearoa – whether passionate photographers, digital storytellers or creatives looking to try something new. Stills is the only nationwide youth photography competition for students of all ages.
We hope that students enjoy showcasing and celebrating their heritage, communities, people, passions and whakapapa through photography. At Rockquest Promotions, we are passionate about providing opportunities for ākonga to engage with the arts, and are committed to making our platforms inclusive to all.

By Sarah Luton