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.


Two Brothers Hunt

My younger brother's an avid hunter. It's one of his biggest passions, outside his family, and he's always finding excuses to get into the hills. He bought himself a new 4WD, this little noisy rock climbing shoebox. I had the ... pleasure (?) ... of picking it up for him and driving it down the highway from Sydney. Although an uncomfortable 7 hour ordeal, it did make for a more memorable drive down the Hume Highway than the many I made in the past. But that's not part of this story.

I was down in Albury a while back, with an idea for a potential photo project. Luckily, my brother was thirsty for a quick jaunt into the hills, and hell, so was I. The morning after I arrived, we woke at 4:00am, jumped into the noisy little Zook, and bounced up into one of his secret hunt spots. There's a photo of that morning buried in my instagram.

It was cold, the air was fresh, the sun hadn't quite come up, and I was feeling good about this first experimentation of my project idea.

We set off, stalking down a trail, and, unexpectedly to me, came across signs of a deer in front of us. My brother insisted we swap roles, his interest in me shooting my first deer apparently outweighing my interest in photographing him on the hunt. Just as the sun reached over the mountains ahead of us, and the leaves blazed orange, the two does passed our trail, pausing to look up at us, barely 50 metres away. Through the sight I saw the buck bound onto the trail, and without breaking his stride, disappear into the other side. Unlike my brother, I'm not a great hunter.

After a few minutes of clowning around doing handstands in the new sunlight, we walked back up the hill, and my brother took the chance to test his new 4WD. The mudguards were immediately, and unintentionally, ripped off.


Hunting's an interesting topic, and it can really divide people. I'm very passionate about environmental conservation and animal welfare, yet I have absolutely no issue with hunting for food, or conservation purposes. If someone's shooting introduced, or pest species, I'm alright with it, as long as they're hunting safely and consciously. I'm certainly not alright with people hunting protected and endangered animals, or people who act irresponsibly with firearms.