Behind the camera: Stef Muyco was born and raised in the city of Chula Vista in California. They lived and worked in Los Angeles for a significant portion of their life before moving to Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Aotearoa. In the five years that they have been living here, they have worked in the film industry, DJ’d for collectives, private events and radio, and set up a photography studio for passion projects and occasional commissions. In their spare time they enjoy eating, sleeping, and boxing.
Why photography: Stef grew up with her dad being the photographer for family events and trips. It was his Canon AE-1 that they used for classes after he deemed it useless and broken. They once worked at a talent agency for actors and made quick cash on the side by taking headshots for new clients. This, they said, catapulted them into portrait work.
Their work is mostly inspired by their own lens as a Filipino person and is motivated to showcase other marginalised people and the beauty they possess.
The snap: This photo, Te Tokotoru Tapu (The Divine Trinity) was taken at Stef’s friend, Tehani Buchanan’s hair cutting ceremony for her daughter’s fifth birthday. Amid all the energy and excitement of the ceremony, they captured their subjects in a brief moment of rest. “Tehani with her daughter, Amalija, and son, Gabrijel, together enveloped in love from their guests. The Buchanan’s epitomise a modern family, worthy of being depicted like any notable Italian Renaissance painting. I feel like I created a modern version of ‘Madonna and Child.’”
Judge’s thoughts: Photographer Sara McIntyre says, “it says it all. The impact of the strong colours, the shy, dignified young mother dressed for an occasion with her children. The little girl engaging with the photographer draws you in. It represents Pacifica community living in our multi-cultural society while maintaining their own culture enriching the human geography of New Zealand. I love it.”