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Profile: Ron Willems, ARPS, AFIAP, FPSNZ, AAPS
Ron Willems lives in Nelson, New Zealand, having spent most of his photography life in Christchurch. Deriving his income from other sources, for him photography is an unpaid passion which started in his pre-teen years and developed rapidly.
He became the youngest person in the world to be awarded his Associateship of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain at the age of twenty. Three years later he became only the fourth person in the world to gain his Fellowship of the Photographic Society of New Zealand. This was for his imaginative experimental photography, a passion he still pursues actively today. Later he was awarded the honour of Artist of the International Federation of Photographic Art for his extensive international successes. More recently he was awarded his Fellowship of the Australian Photographic Society for his creative work in digital photography.
He is regarded by many as New Zealand's most talented colour transparency photographer of all time, being the only person to have won the New Zealand Robinson Cup for an exceptional transparency image six times over a period of 30 years. He also gained numerous national and international awards in the medium.
Currently he shoots all his photography with a Nikon D7500, and Nikkor lenses from 10mm-500mm. His digital work is either shown as projected images or produced as prints. In the past all his film work was shot using a Nikon F100 and Kodak transparency film and when not shown as slides, they are scanned on a Nikon Coolscan IV for printing or digital manipulation. While currently doing all his experimental work on the computer via Photoshop, his earlier experimental work was all done in the darkroom using film up to 4x5 inches to get high quality results.
He has twice won the Australian Digital Photography Awards as the most successful participant from Australasia and has won the New Zealand Salon of Photography six times. In 2007 he became the inaugural winner of the Jack Sprosen New Zealand Audio-Visual Salon. He has gained over 50 major international awards and over 2,000 exhibits of his work in Australasia, Asia, Africa, America and Europe. In addition to exhibiting he has also judged extensively including national and international salons of photography.
Over many decades he has had extensive involvement in all facets of the administration of photographic organisations and societies. Having held the various positions of competition secretary, treasurer, newsletter editor, international guest exhibit co-ordinator, Vice-President and President. In 1992 he produced "The Willems Report" at the invitation of the Photographic Society of New Zealand on the restructuring of the society. In subsequent years many of its recommendations have been implemented. He has also served on the Honours Board of the Photographic Society of New Zealand, which determines those photographers who should be granted their photographic distinctions. He is also a past Chairman of the Selection & Grading committee of the Christchurch Photographic Society. In 2009 he was awarded the Honorary Life Membership of the Christchurch Photographic Society for service to the society and photography. Further in 2015 he was bestowed an Honorary Life Membership of the Photographic Society of New Zealand for his outstanding service to photography in New Zealand and Australia. It recognised that he has given assistance to photographers in both countries through teaching, judging, lecturing, and running seminars and workshops on a voluntary basis. He is also a Life Member of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain.
His photographic work and articles have been published in books and magazines in New Zealand, Australia and the United States.
Lecturing in a relaxed, informative and engaging style has taken him all over New Zealand, Australia and the United States addressing audiences of up to 500 people.
A keen interest in all facets of life sees him travelling extensively with an involvement in photojournalism, landscape, model, nature and experimental photography.
But more than anything he enjoys photography and helping others with their photography, it is part of his life and it allows him to see what a wonderful world we live in.