The portfolio included a range of scenic and people photos, as well as a romantic photo of his girlfriend, Tessa Poulton, standing in front of a full moon, and his Dunedin mate, Ollie Charlesworth, after he broke his favourite surfboard, plus an action shot of Kiwi surfing champ Billy Stairmand.
Mr Hetherington moved to Wānaka with his family when he was young and went to Wānaka Primary School and Mount Aspiring College.
He now lives in Hawke’s Bay and travelled to the United State last week to claim the Follow the Light Foundation Grant, awarded in memory of legendary surf photographer and Surfing Magazine editor Larry “Flame” Moore, who died in 2005.
Mr Hetherington said the annual grant was the surfing world's most prestigious photography competition.
"When I was younger we moved around a few times as a family, so I was lucky enough to live by the beach for a few years, where I fell in love with surfing.
"As soon as I left high school I wanted to move back to the coast, so for the past few years shooting surfing has been my main focus, which is what I enjoy the most," he said.
"I did spend one year at Otago Polytechnic studying photography and design.
"However, that was more learning the business aspect of how to be self employed."
"Ollie surfed this board a lot and has got some of the best waves of his life on it.
"After finally snapping it, Ollie and his shaper have gone on to make three exact replicas of this board and to this day Ollie still surfs this shape more than any other board," Mr Hetherington said.
He likes to show a view of what it feels like to be a surfer.
"I often explain to people that it's a combination of a sport and an art.
"You've got to be extremely fit, be able to read the ocean and then if you're lucky you'll be able to get a cool image."
Mr Hetherington took all the photographs in his portfolio with a Sony A7R III in a waterproof casing.
He was not sure what he will spend his prize on yet but planned to use it to further his career.