2015 National Photographic Portrait Prize

Late last year, I entered a photographic prize on a whim, with a day before it closed. Before that point, I hadn't entered many competitions, and this was a big one, considered the most prestigious of it's kind in Australia. So, when I received a phone call that I was a finalist, I was understandably chuffed, a bit surprised, and also reassured about the quality of my work. Out of 2500 entrants, my image was one of 44 finalists. I organised the printing before I left Sydney for the summer, and the framing happened while I was in Europe (side note, Graphic Art Mount, in Sydney, now comes with my highest recommendation). My framed print ended up on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery before I had seen the final product. Cut to last Friday, 20th March. I'd organised to fly back from London on the 18th, landing in Sydney on the morning of the 20th, via Delhi, flying on two of the most heavily baby-populated flights I had ever encountered. Seriously, multiple crying babies within 10 rows, for 24 hours. But I digress. Arriving in Sydney, with little sleep, I then got a lift down Canberra for the 5pm opening and announcement of the winner. I also stopped in Canberra Target to pick up a shirt, because jetlag brain left my shirt hanging on a door handle.

Long story short, I was joined by a couple of my closest family and friends, who relieved the gallery of a respectable proportion of it's donated drinks. I didn't take home the win, didn't really expect to. I consider being a finalist in the 'most prestigious photographic portrait prize in Australia' as a big win, considering portraiture is something I take great pride in. I certainly can't begrudge the woman who won, Hoda Afshar, because her image was pretty marvelous (And I would do many things for photographic access to Northern Iran).

This is probably the point where I should post my image. It looks beautiful framed, and will be hanging on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery until June 8, before the exhibition travels to rural centres. Check it out, if you have the chance.

Reece_McMillan-

Jamming on George.

Friday night, George Street, Sydney. German 6 packs and Coopers longnecks on the ground. Josh, Chris and I are leant against a wooden construction door, waiting. The dolled-up party crowds are starting to thicken on the footpaths around us, ready for their new chance to 'paint the town red'. The drummer, Tom, arrives, welcoming us through the wooden door into the unfamiliar darkness beyond. We stop in the expectedly hip office on the first floor, searching for, then creating, a makeshift pick. Once armed, we start the ascent. The remaining 8 floors are empty, abandoned. Office space unutilised, unpowered, unoccupied. The building, apparently, is nearing its expiry. Waiting to be gutted, and built over the top of. Wrapped in fairy lights, an extension cord runs up the centre of the stairwell. The only power supply available at the roof, wrapped in the only light source for the rest of the building.

On the rooftop, a room awaits, a single worklight looped over the empty light fixture. 2 guitars and a drum kit, surrounded by a sea of leads, splintered drumsticks, woodchips and empty beer bottles. Beers opened, the room is enveloped by sound.