Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year

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Blue Mao Mao in the Bay of Islands

With 14 year-old New Zealander Cruz Erdmann winning the international accolade Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year award this year Dive Pacific contacted him to find out more, and for other examples of his work.

Cruz Erdmann

The competition for the Awards was huge so how did you react to winning?

Winning was definitely a surprise. It was certainly very nice.

Where have you dived mostly?

I have dived in the Maldives, in West Papua at Raja Ampat a few times and at Lembah in PNG, and In New Zealand in the Bay of Islands at the Hole in the Rock.

When did you start photographing underwater and do you have a favourite camera set up?

I started underwater photography in March 2018. I’m not a gear guy. My camera is a Canon 5 D Mk 3 with an Aquatica housing and for the winning photo I used one Ikolite strobe and a super macro lens. We were muck diving at night.

Blue Mao Mao in the Bay of Islands

Where do you see yourself going with your photography?

I want to do a lot more photography in New Zealand, both terrestrial and underwater. Blue Maomao I find very beautiful and want to do photos of glow worms, for example double exposures. I like the New Zealand kelp forests and other underwater landscapes.

Cruz photographs a school of yellow snapper at Misool, Raja Ampat. Photo by Mark Erdmann

At this stage where do you see your career heading?

Eventually I would like to lead scientific expeditions in the field for long periods, and want get my helicopter’s licence. I don’t want my career to be reliant on photography.

The clownfish is an endemic species of the Maldives

What do you like doing at school?

I’m at Westlake (in Auckland’s North Shore). The subjects I most like are English and Maths, and my sports are water polo and rowing. I want to do more freediving and spearfishing, and I also keep a freshwater aquarium.

Sea fans, Misool, Raja Ampat

Jellyfish in a brackish water lake in Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

In your acceptance speech at the Awards presentation you made some interesting comments. How do you see the future?

I don’t think it’s all bad. Things are looking up compared to just a couple of years ago. Now there is more awareness and acceptance about climate issues.

Witnessing the climate marches through photography can be part of the contribution to these issues.

The sweetlips, Maldives

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