The award winners of Australia’s most prestigious photography prize were announced in front of 1,000 guests at the official opening of the Head On Photo Festival at Sydney’s Lower Town Hall on Friday 29 April 2016.
Crowd favourite category, the Head On Portrait prize, was taken out by Antonio Heredia with his emotive portrait of brain cancer survivor, Oscar Prieto. Having beaten the disease following surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy the striking image captures Prieto’s lasting reminder; a deep scar running down the back of his skull.
First prize in the Landscape category went to David Chancellor for a moving image of an injured giraffe on the brink of death in South African. The image attempts to capture the moment between life and death, where the animal is at peace and calm in a world only it inhabits. Winner in the Mobile division was Andrew Robert Morgan, with his depiction of his 87 year old grandfather’s loss of independence, reflected in the photo through the man forced to sit in the backseat of the car for the ride home because he is no longer allowed to drive at night.
Head On Photo Festival is Australia’s premier photography event and one of the world’s leading photography festivals. The festival boasts a bustling satellite program of talks, hands-on workshops and exhibitions. Photographers submitted works covering every known field of photography, from photojournalism to fine art to reportage to commercial.
More than 4,000 entrants vied for over $50,000 worth of prizes across the four categories: Portrait, Landscape, Mobile and Student.
First place: Antonio Heredia – Survivor
“Some years ago, 29 year-old lawyer Oscar Prieto was diagnosed with brain cancer. Following surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Oscar was able to beat the disease. Nowadays, he is the president of ASATE, an organization which provides help and guidance to those affected by brain cancer. By showing his own scars, Oscar tries to inspire and demonstrate that one can overcome cancer.”
Second place Giles Clarke – Toxic Trespass
“Sameer, 16, is held by his mother Wahida at home in Bhopal’s Jamalpura neighborhood. Sameer was born to parents contaminated by carcinogenic and mutagenic water stemming from the 1984 Union Carbide gas tragedy which has claimed 25,000 lives to date. For decades thousands of families have used contaminated water leading to serious illness and birth defects, as afflicted Sameer. The title refers to scholar-activist Sandra Steingraber’s concept of toxic trespass, in which toxic chemicals enter our bodies without our consent.”
Third place Kristian Taylor-Wood – HighScroller, Lauren Winzer
“Lauren is one of the shining lights of the increasingly fashionable tattoo industry. Her quirky and unique pop-art tattooing style and expertise at blogging and social media have made her one of the most recognised names in the tattoo game. Lauren currently has 205K followers on Instagram, with the likes of Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus banging on her door to get inked. This portrait is part of a larger series named HighScrollers.”
First place David Chancellor – Giraffe, Blue Sheet, Eastern Cape South Africa
“The Fallen. There’s a moment between life and death, sleeping and waking that passes in an instant. For the briefest of moments one can see the beast at peace, calm and in a world that only he inhabits. All the chaos and trauma that went before is no longer bothersome; whilst vets regroup or hunters high five he waits patiently for life to start once more, or for some this is the end, and as I watch, the eye no longer is the gateway to the soul, but rather a reflection of the sky.”
Second place Paul Hoelen – Vanilla Sky
“Mining access roads built through the salt pan lake of Lake Lefroy, south of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.”
Third place Yasmin Mund – Rooftop Dreams, Varanasi
“It was 5:30am and I had just arrived at my guesthouse in Varanasi and instinctively climbed the 7 flights of stairs to see the sunrise over the famous river Ganga. As I looked over the side of the rooftop terrace my jaw dropped in disbelief. Below were mothers, fathers, children, cats, dogs, monkeys all sleeping on the roofs. It was mid-summer in Varanasi and sleeping without AC was difficult.”
Landscape NSW Award Ireneusz Luty – Manly Beach, Sydney
“Part of the series City de Noir. City de Noir assembles a suite of black and white images that focus on presenting intimate moments extracted from the urban environment. Through this, the selection draws attention to and captures both fleeting moments and particular contexts that might represent the unseen and overlooked life within the city of Sydney. Pictures employ long-exposure infrared techniques to capture the dynamism with a sensitive restraint of palette and temporality.”
First place Andrew Robert Morgan – Losing Independence
“My grandfather, Albert, is forced to take a back seat ride home after a family dinner because he is no longer allowed to drive at night. He is an extremely independent 87 year old man, but the truth is that he cannot continue doing everything himself.”
Second place Markus Andersen – Veil
Third place Ako Salemi – Freedom“
A woman covered by a burqa passes by the Roze Sharif holy shrine in Mazar-e-Sharif, where white pigeons often congregate. The pigeon is the symbol of freedom in Afghanistan.”
First place Isabelle Sijan – Girl See’s All
“Girl Sees All depicts the average teenage girl looking at life’s obstacles. This is represented via the snow-caps of New Zealand’s Mount Cook, which can be seen as a double exposure in the subject’s eyes. While the mountain may seem out of place, especially considering the somewhat empty background, it acts as a representation of the obstacles in one’s life – whether a physical challenge or mental – and thus is not equally reflected in the setting behind the girl.”
Second place Pia Wylie – Façade
“My artwork involves placing a physical object in the form of a mirror into the natural environment, blending and blurring the lines between reality and the reflection of reality via the manmade. I love the idea of allowing a photograph, something that is 2D to show multiple facades. I aim to evoke a sense of contemplation and allow the audience to create their own personal reflection through the complex and almost surreal image.”
Third place Ana Burenkova – Stunned
“The water was colder than they thought it would be. I managed to capture the exact moment that they both realised they’d made a terrible mistake.”