Danu Sefton, a Palmerston North Polytechnic and Institute of Technology New Zealand student, said the picture of her daughter, Madeleine, fully clothed in a bathtub, won her the silver medal at the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography Awards, The Dominion Post reported Monday.
But, she said, some people were offended by the image, which she said represents "that in-between state" between life and death.
"Some people in my class said I needed to stop what I was doing," Sefton said. "I have been held and shaken because of it."
She said someone offended by the picture led police to visit her home.
Sefton said the officers demanded to see any pictures of her daughter that had been posted online.
"They saw it and said 'Oh, that's art'," she said. "It's nice to know the police are art-literate as well."
Sefton said her daughter has been doing theater since she was 4-years-old and "understands make-believe."