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Head On Portrait Prize is Australia’s most critically acclaimed photographic portrait competition and exhibition reflecting a vibrant diverse cross-section of new and traditional photographic practices. Prizes awarded to 4 photographers for the best Australian contemporary photographic portrait.

In May 2013, Head On Photo Festival announced the winners of the 2013 Portrait Prize, Jonathan May (1st), Brian Cassey (2nd) and Matt Reed (3rd) and Amy Piesse (People’s Choice).

WINNER 2013: Jonathan May (1st)

In 2007 Kenya experienced its darkest hour. Tribal tension erupted after apparent rigged elections with violence and chaos consuming the country. Over 1,600 people were killed and over 660,000 forced from their homes and made to live in IDP camps (Internally displaced people) or else suffer the same brutal fate.
Stanford and his family lived in the fertile land of Narok and in the middle of the night they were given five minutes to leave their home and barely packed their bags before their house and everything they owned was burnt to the ground. When they arrived at the camp Stanford had already been diagnosed with a rare skin condition that made him highly sensitive to the sun but was healthy with some minor skin irritation. Stanford was forced to live in a small clear tent in a barren field without many trees for shade, and his condition quickly deteriorated. Five years later there is a new president but for many life in the camp remains the same struggle. Stanford now has no sight and struggles to breathe out of his nose. Surgery is way beyond and his mother’s reach.

WINNER 2013: Brian Cassey (2nd)

APN Cape York (Aak Puul Ngantam) is an indigenous cattle enterprise based on remote Cape York Peninsula in Australia’s far north — an attempt to provide sustainable employment and a sense of pride in the indigenous population. They are mustering wild stock — left after a failed venture decades ago — by horseback, quad bike and helicopter.
I photographed the entire APN team at their remote camp as they returned exhausted from a day of mustering and fence building. The subject of this image, Dominic Ngakyunkwokka,  is one of the young indigenous stockman learning the trade from the experienced traditional elders. Dominic is pleased to be offered the opportunity for gainful employment and to escape the township of Aurukun where opportunities are non-existent and drugs, booze and violence is endemic.

WINNER 2013: Matt Reed (3rd)
Put it There

Taken moments after “the family group shot” at the wedding of Josh and Simi in Sydney.

 PEOPLE’S CHOICE 2013: Amy Piesse

Sisters Rose and Valda have been friends since they lived together at the Convent of the Good Shepherd by the banks of the Yarra River. The site has now been converted into the Abbotsford Convent Foundation, a vibrant arts, educational and cultural precinct. Sisters Rose and Valda continue to live next door and attend the Good Shepherd Chapel. They remain very close friends.


Head On Portrait Prize finalists 2013

Didi S. Gilson, Fiona Wolf-Symeonides, Torsten Blackwood, Louis Lim, Damien Pleming, Wendy McDougall, Julie Sundberg, Kerry Pryor, Rachel Marsden, David Stefanoff, Dallas Kilponen, Zorica Purlija, Jodi McConaghy, John McRae, Hailey Bartholomew, Karola Csanyi, Mark Greenland, Lilli Waters, Chris Budgeon, Mia Mala McDonald, David Maurice Smith, Jennifer Blau, Mercurio Alvarado Mendez, Tamara Dean, George Voulgaropoulos, Amy Piesse, Emma Caldwell, Bronwyn Thompson, Sarah Moore, Eloise Hogan, Jacqui Dean, Tristan Still, Amy Pfitzner, Janelle Low, Stephen Corey, Zac Steinic, Mark Rogers. Full online gallery.


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Head On Photo Awards 2024

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Image detail: Gary Ramage