Fraud Blocker

If, like many photographers, you feel your work is buried in digital limbo, unseen and unappreciated, read on.

Exhibiting in a digital world continues to be an essential practice for photographers to be discovered, and there are numerous avenues for showcasing your photography and sharing your distinct perspective to a broader audience. From intimate collective displays to prominent solo gallery exhibitions, presenting your work can forge connections with an audience, enhance your standing, and elevate your career.

Here are some creative ideas and suggestions exploring the relevance of exhibitions in the digital age.

Magic of print

The true essence of a photograph may not be captured entirely by the limited pixels on a phone screen. Opting to create a physical print for exhibition purposes honours an image by converting it into an art piece that invites thoughtful consideration. A tangible print enhances the individual character of a photograph, giving it a significance and stature that elevates its presence beyond the digital realm.

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Moshe Rosenzveig OAM
Head On Portrait Awards 2016 finalists’ exhibition, Museum of Sydney

Forge connections

Online platforms only allow a glimpse at an image before swiping to the next, whereas galleries cultivate authentic, frequently enduring relationships. There’s the opportunity for dialogue, to address enquiries, and to divulge the muse inspiring the image-making. These significant exchanges link the photographer and the viewer, establishing a fellowship centred on your artistic expression.

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Rob Johnson
Emma Hack’s exhibition, Head On Photo Festival 2018

Elevate your credibility

Showcasing your work in a curated environment, such as a gallery or festival, imbues your artistic endeavours with a layer of distinction and professionalism. This approach announces to the world that you are more than merely a camera enthusiast; you are a dedicated artist graced with a compelling vision.

Such exhibitions can potentially draw new audiences, discerning buyers, and media interest throughout the event. Furthermore, developing an exhibition portfolio enhances your professional profile and may lead to opportunities for gallery representation and connection with art collectors, elevating your career trajectory to new heights.

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Moshe Rosenzveig OAM
Erika Diettes installation, St Canice church, Head On Photo Festival 2014

Opens doors to new opportunities

Exhibitions are more than mere displays of prints; they may act as catalysts for new opportunities. When you gain recognition from the public, curators, art directors, and photo editors as a committed exhibitor, the doors open to various collaborative projects, commissions, and engagements that could extend well beyond the timeframe of the exhibit.

Your forthcoming exhibition has the potential to be the very launchpad that propels you towards the realisation of your artistic aspirations.

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Moshe Rosenzveig OAM
Tami Xiang’s installation, Head On Photo Festival 2019

Embracing the journey

An exhibition represents more than a retrospective showcase of your previous achievements; it is a dynamic leap towards what lies ahead. Having your photographs presented in such a manner propels you further on your artistic voyage, sparking innovative thoughts on presentation methods, encouraging experimental approaches, and facilitating encounters with intriguing individuals who may pave the way for fresh avenues of creative exploration.

Above all, it provides the invaluable chance to reflect on your evolution, recognise the strides you’ve made and warmly welcome the array of promising opportunities awaiting you.

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Monique Harmer
Nancy Borowick’s book signing, Head On Photo Festival 2018

How to get started

Are you ready to dive into the world of exhibitions? Here are some tips to set you on your path:

Explore other exhibitions

Immersing yourself in the exhibitions of fellow photographers can be a source of inspiration. It allows you to absorb new ideas, discern current trends in photography and network with established and new talent. These interactions can lead to valuable feedback on your own work and help develop essential industry connections. Check out our What’s On page to see happening in photography throughout Australia.

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Moshe Rosenzveig OAM
Herlinde Koelbl tour, Head On Photo Festival 2017

Participate in photo competitions

Engaging with photo award competitions can offer exposure, the chance to win accolades, and the potential for sales. See our list of Photo contests/awards to consider in 2024.

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Dean Sewell
Head On Portrait Awards 2023 finalists’ exhibition

Show at local art exhibitions

Making a mark in local art shows is a brilliant method to present your work to an audience and engage with your community. These events are also perfect for meeting curators and arts professionals who may play a part in your growing career.

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Stephen Godfrey
Installation at 107 Gallery, Redfern, Head On Photo Festival 2022

Start Printing Your Work

Mastery comes with practice. Test various paper types and sizes to discover what resonates with your vision. Additionally, decide how involved you want to be in the printing process – printing at home, relying on professional services, or finding a balance between the two.

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Steve Marshall
Portfolio review, Head On Photo Festival 2012

Cultivate Your Audience

The trepidation that nobody will attend your exhibition can be daunting, but by proactively nurturing relationships throughout your artistic journey, you can ensure a supportive crowd beyond just family and close friends will be there to celebrate your work.

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Moshe Rosenzveig OAM
Sophie Howarth’s exhibition opening, Head On Photo Festival 2022
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Stephen Godfrey

How Head On gets you exhibiting

At Head On, we share a deep connection with photography, fully understanding the exhibition landscape’s intricacies and the journey many photographers embark upon. Our Festival is carefully curated to ensure that there is value on offer for you, no matter your stage in the creative process.

Throughout the Festival, we arrange a diverse array of complimentary and ticketed events to spark dialogue about the latest developments in photography.

We also facilitate artists’ talks and celebrate exhibition openings. For those who are newer to the scene, our AddOn event presents a non-competitive group exhibition and a book project that offers an excellent platform to showcase your work.

 

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Stephen Godfrey
AddOn 2023 exhibition opening

We conduct two major international calls annually – the Head On Photo Awards and the Head On Photo Festival submissions. The Awards centres on a single image that could lead to inclusion in the finalists’ exhibition, while the Festival submission invites a series of related works, providing the opportunity to become a festival exhibitor. Both calls are highly competitive due to space constraints and are judged anonymously to ensure a level playing field for all entrants.

Festival submissions for 2024 are open till 17 March 2023.

Submit your project

 

Exhibit with us EOI

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Conclusion

With a bit of research, planning and passion, exhibiting your work can be a transformative experience that leaves a lasting impression on you and your viewers.

Cast aside the usual New Year’s resolutions of hitting the gym and set your sights on a thrilling quest on a photographic journey.

Exhibiting your photography in a solo exhibition or in a competition is an enriching undertaking for both emerging and established photographers. It offers a unique opportunity to share your vision with a wider audience, allowing them to connect with your work on a personal level.

Showcasing your photographs can lead to valuable exposure, potentially opening doors to new collaborations and professional opportunities as it exposes your work to picture editors, art directors and curators. It also provides a platform for feedback, which can be instrumental to one’s artistic development.

We curated a comprehensive selection of photo competitions catering to various interests and skill levels. We split the list into two – open internationally and those only available to Australians.

International

Head On Photo Awards

Cheekily putting ourselves first, Australia’s most prestigious photography competition, Head On Photo Awards (open for entries internationally), is one of the world’s leading photo competitions. Based on the belief that all artists are entitled to equal opportunities regardless of their pedigree, our judges do not see the creators’ names, ensuring that the winning works are selected on merit alone.

Read more

Exhibit with us EOI

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1854 Awards (British Journal of Photography)

They run several open call thought-out the year such as Portrait of Humanity and Female in focus and Arles open walls

Visit site

Abbey Road Studios Music Photography Awards

One of the more unique photography contests with prizes including a mentorship with Rankin and 4 week residence with Simon Wheatley at Abby road studio.

Visit site

All about photo.com Awards

They run several open calls during the year featuring genres of photography.

Visit site

Getty Images Grants

Not strictly a contest, this program awards grants to photographers working on impactful documentary projects. It’s a great opportunity for photographers to receive funding and exposure for their work.

Visit site

Hasselblad Masters

This competition features six categories; Landscape, Architecture, Portrait, Street, Art and Project.

Visit site

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Alain Schroeder
2023 Head On Environmental Awards winner

Kuala Lumpur International Photo awards

Annual global portrait photography prize seeking the very best and fresh entries from photographers of all levels.

Visit site

LensCulture Photography Awards

They run several open calls during the year featuring photography genres.

Visit site

ND Awards

Annual photo awards spanning several genres with both professional and non-professional divisions

Visit site

New York Times Portfolio Review

A cornerstone of photographic events in the United States, the review serves as a platform for the photographic community to showcase their work, exchange ideas, collaborate, and enjoy the process.

Visit site

Paris International Street Photo Awards

Exclusively dedicated to street photography, offering various subcategories to cater to specific styles and approaches.

Visit site

Prix Pictet

A thematic competition that focuses on contemporary sustainability challenges. Each year has a different theme, and the 2024 theme is “Hope.”

Visit site

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize

Renowned competition for portrait photography.

Visit site

The comedy Wildlife photography awards

The motto is conservation though competition as a funny animal photo is incredibly effective as there are no barriers to understanding.

Visit site

We would have included World Press photo and Wildlife photography of the year, but entries closed very early 2024 so keep an eye out for them in early 2025.

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David Cossini
2023 Head On Portrait Awards winner

Australian

Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year

Showcases the best nature photography from Australia and New Zealand.

Visit site

 

Australian Life

Australian Life is looking for engaging and intriguing photos that depict Australia beyond the icons.

Visit site

 

Australian Photography Photographer of the Year

Largest photo competition for amateur photographers in the Southern Hemisphere.

Visit site

 

Bowness Photography Prize

The prize is open, with no thematic restrictions and past finalists have included both established and emerging photographers, art and commercial photographers.

Visit site

 

Capture Magazine Awards

Offers various awards for photographers of all levels across Australia and New Zealand. Deadline for entries varies depending on the award.

Visit site

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Talia Greis
2023 Head On Landscape Awards winner

Martin Kantor Portrait Prize

Biennial portrait photo award as part of Ballarat International Foto Biennale. Next run in 2025.

Visit site

 

Mono Awards

Open to photographers worldwide, with categories for people, places, and animals. Deadline for entries is February to May 2024.

Visit site

 

National Photographic Portrait Prize

The National Photographic Portrait Prize is run by and exhibited in Canberra’s National Portrait Gallery. It is selected from a national field of entries and reflects the distinctive vision of Australia’s aspiring and professional portrait photographers and the unique nature of their subjects.

Visit site

 

Olive Cotton Award

Biannual portrait contest. Next run in 2025.

Visit site

It feels like there are more and more photo contests every year, to the point it is overwhelming to keep up with. Thats why sites like photo contest insider  is a great resource to explore what is closing soon.

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Head On Portrait Award 2023 – Dean Sewall

Bonus: Four questions to ask yourself before entering

We are all on unique paths and seeking different kinds of opportunities. To determine if participating in the photo awards contest aligns with your core principles and goals, it’s important to ask yourself these four key questions.

  1. Is it worth entering? This is a personal question and varies depending on what you are looking for. As an example, your local council runs a free to enter contest for people who live in the area. The prize is to have the photo included in the Annual calendar that gets given to everyone in the community along with your name and business name.
    1. What if the council sold the calendar to raise money for a charity? What if they paid each finalist $250
    2. What if once selected you needed to pay an additional $100 to help get the calendar printed and distributed?
    3. What if there are only 50 entries? What if there are 40,000?
  2. Do I keep the copyright of my photos? In the terms and conditions check if they want copyright of your photo or a License. If they require copyright that is a red flag, and you should consider not entering. Also check if it applies to every photo entered or just the photo is selected as a finalist/winner. Most contests will require a License agreement with you that allows them to use your photo if selected as a finalist to use it to promote that contest for a specific time period.
  3. Am I eligible? Always read the full T&C’s. As you do these are the 4 things that can trip people up and are worth checking
    1. Does your work fit within the broad definition of the category.
    2. Is there a time or location where the photo needs to be taken within?
    3. Are you in the correct demographic?
    4. Can a previously published photo be entered?
  4. Are the organisers reputable?
    1. Have they been running the Awards for a long time?
    2. How are the winners selected? With or without names?
    3. Who selects the winners?
    4. Are you able to contact them?
    5. Do they get media attention?
    6. Are they well known in the local community?
    7. Is there a printed exhibition/book for Finalists work?

Remember, the most important prizes go beyond trophies and cash. It’s the journey of pushing your boundaries, growing as an artist, and sharing your vision with the world.

Initiated with the vision of providing a platform for photographers from all walks of life, the Festival has achieved this goal and made significant contributions to the global photography scene.

As we reflect on the achievements and highlights of the Head On Photo Festival over the years, it is clear that the Festival has showcased images and woven a tapestry of diverse voices and perspectives.

Activations that transcend boundaries

The Head On Photo Festival has not confined itself to traditional gallery spaces. Instead, it has activated various public spaces, from the iconic Bondi Beach to churches and beyond. This approach democratises art and fosters a unique connection between the audience and the exhibited works.

With 490,000+ visitors to free public exhibitions during the 2023 Festival period, public engagement with art and culture is at the forefront, making the annual Festival a positive and prominent contributor to the cultural fabric of Sydney.

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Stephen Godfrey

Showcasing diverse stories

With over 700 artists from 32 countries participating in the 2023 edition, the Head On Photo Festival has become a melting pot of diverse talents and perspectives. Every year, we showcase stories of conflict, cultural histories, the climate crisis, crucial global issues, personal narratives, and possibilities for the future.

The Festival exhibition and awards are proudly accepted through a unique judging process, in which the work is chosen without the creators’ names by a group of industry leaders. This approach ensures that the judging and selection process remains unbiased, focusing solely on the quality and artistic merit of the photographs.

Our visitor numbers in 2023 alone reaches unprecedented levels for a photography related event in Australia, highlighting the Festival’s growing impact on the public’s appreciation of photography as a powerful medium of expression.

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Moshe Rosenzveig OAM

Supporting photography at every stage

One of the festival’s key strengths lies in its commitment to supporting photographers at every stage of their careers. From the Student Awards that nurture emerging talents to the inaugural Environmental Awards that highlight the role of photography in driving positive change for the planet, the Head On Photo Festival catalyses artistic growth and social impact. From hosting regional workshops to exhibitions across Sydney, we have a proven track record for amplifying photography as an art form and a positive catalyst for change.

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Stephen Godfrey
Head On Foundation workshop with Murray Fredericks and Judith Nangala Crispin, Kandos 2023

Adaptation and resilience

The Head On Photo Festival demonstrated its resilience during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the first photography festival to go online, it not only embraced the digital realm but also utilised outdoor exhibitions along the Bondi promenade, reaching an audience of up to 400,000 people during the Festival period. This adaptive spirit and a hybrid model ensured the Festival’s continuity in the face of adversity.

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Head On Photo Festival (Online) launch with Osher Gunsberg and Moshe Rosenzveig OAM during COVID, May 2020.

A legacy of impact

Over the years, we have provided a stage for more than 6,700 artists, distributed over $870,000 in cash and prizes through the Head On Photo Awards, and activated over 350 galleries and public venues. The impact extends beyond geographical boundaries, with exhibitions touring Europe, the USA, and Asia. These contributions significantly benefit the arts industry and creative practitioners both locally and internationally.

As the Head On Photo Festival celebrates its achievements, it recognises its success is a collective effort. A small, dedicated team, volunteers, partners, and a supportive audience have been instrumental in overcoming challenges and pushing the boundaries of what a photography festival can achieve.

By signing our petition, you can extend your support of Head On so that we can overcome our current challenges and continuously be an asset to the cultural scene of Sydney and beyond. Spread the word if you want to keep the Festival going as it is.

Support us by signing the petition

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Stephen Godfrey

Images: Mark Tidy, Stephen Godfrey, Moshe Rosenzveig OAM

Thank you to our partners Milk & Honey Photography for taking beautiful portraits of this year’s Festival attendees.
 
Did you get your portrait taken at the Pop Up by Milk & Honey Photography at Head On Photo Festival? They are now available, click below to download your headshot!
We’re thrilled to unveil the recipients of the People’s Choice awards for the Head On Photo Awards! Read on to see each category’s winning image.

PORTRAIT AWARD PEOPLE’S CHOICE

Dino Dimar with Talisman unwavering faith 

The potent Philippine amulet represents both the quest for protection and the fragility of its promises within Filipino culture. Desperate for safety, people turned to its ancient aura, hoping it would shield them from all harm – however, the tragic tale of Commander Lawin, aka retired Staff Sgt. Remigio Mingo unfolds a different reality. Despite adorning himself with multiple amulets after losing his left hand in service, the amulet’s powers proved insufficient. Commander Lawin’s unwavering faith is mirrored in the prayers encircling his waist, a reminder of the limitations of earthly safeguards and the plea for divine guidance. 

This image beautifully captures the intricate interplay between the cultural yearning for protection, and speaks to the complexity of faith and the enduring search for solace in both earthly and divine realms.

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Dino Dimar

LANDSCAPE AWARDS PEOPLE’S CHOICE

Dane Beesley with Untitled.

Dane Beesley’s photographs are visual narratives of the skies accompanying us on our terrestrial journey. Dane captures the dynamic interplay between the sky and its surroundings through careful composition and attention to light. He seeks to freeze these fleeting moments, preserving them for contemplation and reflection. 

Beesley’s untitled image captures the ever-changing interplay between the sky and its surroundings, freezing an ephemeral moment in time. The photo invites us to appreciate the transient beauty of the everyday.

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Dane Beesley

STUDENT AWARD PEOPLE’S CHOICE

Noah Morris with Social life

Disconnected.

Noah’s powerful image serves as a visual commentary on the growing disconnection in our interpersonal relationships, prompting reflection on the profound impact of technology on the fabric of our social bonds.

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ENVIRONMENTAL AWARDS PEOPLE’S CHOICE

Natalya Saprunova with Thawing permafrost above the Arctic Circle in Yakutia 

Nikita Zimov, the director of the Northeast Science Station in Yakutia, observes the thawing of the permafrost layer in Duvanny Yar, located along the Kolyma River above the Arctic Circle. This landslide was driven by land degradation accelerated by warming temperatures in the Arctic region. This layer of permafrost is formed during the late Pleistocene is called Yedoma. The decomposition of this organic matter can produce between 2 billion and 12 billion carbon per year in the form of CO2 and methane, which is between 20 and 100% of what is currently emitted by human activity in terms of carbon. 

This image serves as a powerful testament to the urgent environmental challenges we face. It encapsulates the fragile beauty of the Yedoma permafrost layer, as a stark reminder of the alarming carbon emissions unleashed by the decomposition of this ancient organic matter.

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Natalya Saprunova

Congratulations to all of the People’s Choice winners and thank you to everyone who voted!

We will be in touch with the winners of each People’s Choice category to arrange sending prizes.

2024 looks extremely challenging as inadequate public funding, decreased commercial sponsorship and increased costs all contribute to significant uncertainty about the viability of Head On Photo Festival 2024.

*”The event has been extremely successful, according to artistic director Moshe Rosenzveig, but on Friday he learned its application for $100,000 in federal government funding had been knocked back.

“I can be stoic and say ‘well, that’s life’, but the reality is it’s very difficult and getting more difficult,” – Festival Director, Moshe Rosenzveig OAM told AAP.”

“It all leaves Head On with more financial support from foreign countries than it receives from the Australian government.”

However, within our capacity, we aim to create an annual program and cultural hubs, including place-making activations across highly-visited public spaces that raise awareness of photography and Head On artists.

Head On has always and will endeavor to continue to support artists at all stages of their careers to provide experience, exposure and invaluable opportunities through commissioned projects, online presence and our year-round program, focusing on regional and international touring programs to provide more opportunities for more artists.

The Head On Photo Festival team looks forward to developing all partnerships, collaborations, and synergistic relationships in 2024 so that we can continue to grow, innovate and deliver for the arts community and general public.

*Excerpt from the Canberra Times. Read full article here.

Support us by signing the petition

As the curtains close on this year’s Head On Photo Festival, we’re filled with gratitude for your incredible support and enthusiasm over the past three weeks. Together, we’ve celebrated the very best in photography, showcasing the talent of artists from around the globe.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on some of the highlights that made this year truly special:

Installation

In the week leading up to the Launch, our wonderful team began installing the Head On Photo Festival exhibitions. With 6am starts at Bondi Beach, hard work over the weekend at Paddington Reservoir Gardens and TAFE NSW Ultimo, we couldn’t be more grateful for our amazing team of dedicated volunteers!

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Lana Marshall
Installation at PRG

Interviews

Head On’s Artistic Director Moshe Rosenzveig OAM, and several Featured exhibitors and Awards Finalists discussed the Festival with local and national news outlets, including ABC, Channel 7, Eastside Radio, and The Age.

With 110+ print/online and 90+ television/radio media features in 2023, we are grateful to be able to share the Festival with new audiences.

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Festival Launch party

At the Head On Photo Festival launch on Friday, 10 November, in front of a huge crowd, we launched this year’s exhibitions and announced the much–anticipated Head On Photo Awards winners across Portrait, Landscape, Environmental and Student categories who share the $70,000 prize pool.

The night was a huge success, thank you to everyone who attended and celebrated our artists and their photography with us.

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Lana Marshall

Head On Conversations

In the opening weekend of the Festival, we hosted Head On Conversations at TAFE NSW, Ultimo, a series of discussions relating current topics to photography, aimed to provoke, inform and inspire. Experts and photographers spoke on topics including personal style, agency of the subject in photography, and more.

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Moshe Rosenzveig OAM

Meet the judges

What makes an image stand out? On Sunday, 12th of November, some of this year’s judges and selectors who blind judged this year’s Head On Photo Awards shared their thoughts about the Awards winners, impactful exhibitions and how the judging process works.

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Stephen Godfrey

AddOn Opening

It was an amazing night of AddOn participants gathering at Ted’s Cameras gallery, to celebrate this year’s exhibition.

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Lana Marshall

Exhibitions across Sydney

This year, we showcased the talent of 700+ artists from 32 countries across the globe, with photography exhibitions across Sydney.

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Lana Marshall

Vishniac: Live music, screening + Q&A

In collaboration with the Jewish International Film Festival, we had a special event with live music, refreshments, and an incredible documentary about Roman Vishniac, one of the first to use photography as an instrument of documentation, with post-screening Q&A.

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Dean Sewell

Artist Walk & Talk

At our Artist Walk & Talk at Bondi Beach, we got to hear from some of this year’s incredible photographers and Head On Creative Director, Moshe Rosenzveig OAM!

Braving the wet weather, photography enthusiasts gathered to view the exhibitions along Bondi Beach Promenade and discover the backstories and creative processes with photographers Damien Drew, Graham Cordery, Kent Johnson and Talia Greis, and Head On Founder Moshe Rosenzveig OAM.

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Lana Marshall

ROYAL COLLEGE OF MUSIC COLLABORATION

Royal College of Music composers created new works inspired by a selection of evocative images from the Head On Landscape Awards and Head On Portrait Awards.

This unique concert featured a series of short works for solo, duo and trio ensembles alongside the striking images that inspired them.

Since 2020, Head On has collaborated annually with the Royal College of Music, London, to create new musical works inspired by images from the Head On Photo Awards.

A recording of the concert is available here. You can read more about this year’s collaboration with RCM here.

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Looking forward

We couldn’t be more grateful for all those who participated, engaged, and helped us deliver this Festival, you make this Festival so special. Please consider supporting our exhibiting photographers by checking out their webpages; you can view the 2023 exhibitions online here.

Head On Photo Festival 2024 is still up in the air, but we will be looking for diverse, engaging, quality work in all genres across still photography, multi-media, and video art to join the 2024 program. So, make sure to sign up to our mailing list, to be the first to know when submissions open!

 

And finally… we need your support more than ever.

2024 looks extremely challenging as inadequate public funding, decreased commercial sponsorship and increased costs all contribute to significant uncertainty about the viability of Head On Photo Festival in the future.

By signing our petition, you can extend your support of the Festival so we can continue to do great things in the future. Spread the word if you want to keep the Festival going as it is.

Support us by signing the petition

Royal College of Music composers create new works inspired by a selection of evocative images from the Head On Landscape Awards and Head On Portrait Awards.

This unique concert features a series of short works for solo, duo and trio ensembles alongside the striking images that inspired them.

Every piece not only responded to the Head On Photo Award images, but also illuminated a new way of viewing them. Congratulations to all of the artists whose work inspired composers from the Royal College of Music, London: 

The image of fear by Francisco Negroni 

Negative intersections – reflections by Chris Blincoe

Matera #2 by Tebani Slade

Mother Goose by Frederic Aranda

Evicted by Nuno M Santos

Relentless by Stu McKenzie

Sole Survivor by Matt Palmer

Amy and the Twins by Sophie Smith 

Underwater Garden by Talia Greis

Let’s build a mountain by Frederike Kijftenbelt

Massive Supercell – Dalhart Texas by Bob Newman

Mount Fuji Fishermen by John Sowden

Demolition Site 04 outside by Jihyun Jung

Last light for trees and apartments by Young Lee

Untitled by Dane Beesley

One of the world’s most prestigious music schools, the Royal College of Music trains some of the most important figures in British and international music, including composers such as Holst, Vaughan Williams, Turnage and Britten; conductors such as Leopold Stokowski, Sir Colin Davis and Sir Roger Norrington; singers such as Dame Joan Sutherland, Sir Thomas Allen and Alfie Boe; instrumentalists such as Sir James Galway, John Lill, Gervase de Peyer, and Natalie Clein.

This year, Euroka Reserve becomes the immersive canvas for Seb Agnew’s thought-provoking exhibition, a highlight of the prestigious Head On Photo Festival. Agnew’s ongoing exploration of human self-reflection unfolds through three distinctive series—Grown, Syncope, and Epiphany—each offering a unique lens into the complexities of the human psyche.

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Seb Agnew
Sticky Notes, from the series Syncope, 2017.

Grown (2016–2017) navigates the ethereal boundary between childhood and adulthood. Within each frame, Agnew captures physically grown individuals in moments of profound subconscious reflection, bordering on apathy. The inclusion of typical childhood objects adds layers of allegorical richness to each image, prompting viewers to contemplate the nuanced journey from innocence to experience

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Seb Agnew
Balloons, from the series Grown, 2016.

Syncope (2017–2022), named after the medical term for ‘fainting’ or ‘passing out,’ delves into the disorienting sensations inherent in our modern lives. Agnew skillfully places the feeling of being lost within the context of our daily existence, where moments of concentration often lead to contemplation about nothing at all. This metaphorical dance with temporary loss of consciousness becomes a poignant commentary on the relentless pace and complexity of contemporary society.

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Seb Agnew
Noodles from the series Syncope, 2019.

Epiphany, an ongoing series since 2017, stands in stark contrast to Syncope. Agnew juxtaposes the deep-reaching feelings of disorientation and helplessness with moments of sudden clarity and personal revelations. In an era fraught with challenges, both individual and global, Epiphany becomes a visual sanctuary, reflecting the inevitability of change.

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Seb Agnew
Cables from the series Epiphany, 2022.

As Euroka Reserve transforms into a visual spectacle, Agnew’s exhibition invites festival-goers to embark on a profound journey of self-discovery, seamlessly weaving together introspection, disorientation, and revelation.

See the exhibition at Euroka Reserve in Woollahara in front of the Goethe Instutut until 3 December.

Learn more about the exhibition here.

 

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At the Head On Photo Festival launch on Friday night (10 Nov) we announced the muchanticipated winners of the Head On Photo Awards in the Portrait, Environmental, Landscape and Student categories. 

The competition was fierce this year – just ask our panel of judges who spent hours upon hours debating and deliberating which talented photographers will take out the top prizes. 

We couldn’t be more pleased with the result. Your winners for 2023 are: 

HEAD ON PORTRAIT AWARDS

International runner-up: Delphine Blast with ‘The retreat of the butterflies’

Delphine lived in the Dominican Republic in 2011. In 2021, she returned to lead a participatory project with 16 inmates in the country’s only penitentiary centre for underage girls. Participants are encouraged to regain possession of their image and become actors in their lives in a place that deprives them of all freedom.
Together, they make masks, a central element of Dominican folklore, which protects their identity and embodies their physical and psychological confinement. They choose messages to transcribe onto the images, projecting themselves into the future.
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Delphine Blast

Australian runner-up: Julian Kingma with ‘MP Jan Wade’

Jan liked to control the room.”You’ve got ten minutes.”
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Julian Kingma

Overall winner: David Cossini with ‘Ugandan Ssebabi’

Set among the tough slums of Kyazanga, Uganda, Ssebabi is a photographic tribute to the world’s greatest underdog. Godfrey Baguma, born with a rare and painful physical disability, was abandoned by his mother as a bringer of ‘bad luck’ and shunned by society.
Through a chance encounter, he reinvents himself as an entertainer in a travelling show. Now 57, he has beaten the odds. While most people with his condition die by 40, he has found love, success and bought a house — a testament to human resilience and positivity.
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David Cossini

Have your say!

Vote for you favourite portrait finalist in the Head On Portrait Awards people’s choice!

HEAD ON LANDSCAPE AWARDS

International runner-up: Francisco Negroni with ‘The image of fear

Los Lagos Region, Chile. In 2015 and after more than 40 years of calm, the Calbuco volcano began a new and violent eruptive process.

Hundreds of people had to evacuate the area due to the ash fall. In the photograph, a gigantic fumarole is surrounded by thousands of electrical discharges (a phenomenon scientifically known as a dirty storm) which caused panic throughout the region and during the first night of eruption.
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Francisco Negroni

Australian runner-up: Barbara Brown with ‘Shanty Town, Swakopmund, Namibia’

Aerial view describing life within a shanty town north of Swakopmund taken from aeroplane

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Barbara Brown

Overall winner: Talia Greis with ‘Underwater Garden’

A shallow, pond like, open air sinkhole with the most impressive range of water lilies. Found in the depths of the rainforest, Mexico.

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Talia Greis

Have your say!

Vote for you favourite Landscape finalist in the Head On Landscape Awards People’s Choice!

HEAD ON ENVIRONMENTAL AWARDS

International runner-up: Annette LeMay Burke with ‘Fauxliage – Airport approach, Palm Springs, CA’

This series documents the proliferation of disguised cell phone towers in the American West. By attempting to conceal an unsightly yet essential technology of the modern world, our landscapes are now sown with a quirky mosaic of masquerading palms, evergreens, flagpoles, crosses, and cacti. But the towers are simulacra. They are water towers that hold no water, windmills that provide no power, and trees that provide no oxygen, yet they all provide five bars of service. The towers pose the question: How much of an ersatz landscape and manufactured nature are we willing to accept in exchange for connectivity?

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Annette LeMay Burke

Australian runner-up: Adam Oswell with ‘Portrait of extinction’

Field rangers from the Ugandan Wildlife Authority pose in front of over 12 tonnes of metal snares confiscated in just one year in Murchison Falls National Park. The snare crisis is devastating wildlife populations across the planet as they are a cheap and effective method of poaching wildlife for powerful and sophisticated criminal syndicates who often exploit impoverished communities to supply a booming global black market for wildlife.

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Adam Oswell

Overall winner: Alain Schroeder with ‘Saving orangutans 1’

Sibolangit, SOCP Quarantine Centre, North Sumatra, Indonesia. The SOCP team works together to prepare Brenda, an estimated 3-month-old female orangutan (she has no teeth yet), for surgery. They administer a sedative, shave her arm, and take her temperature while others hold her head or hand out of compassion.
This series documents Indonesia’s orangutan’s rescue, rehabilitation, and release. They are under threat from the ongoing depletion of the rainforest due to palm oil plantations, logging, mining, and hunting.
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Alain Schroeder

Have your say!

Vote for you favourite environmental finalist in the Head On Environmental Awards People’s Choice!

HEAD ON STUDENT AWARDS

Runner-up: Sienna Lawson-Coffa with ‘Mirror’

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Sienna Lawson-Coffa

Runner-up: Isobel Meyer with ‘Siblings’

Two siblings per dog, country living. Capturing the littered light through the leaves above.

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Isobel Meyer

Overall winner: Lucia St Leon with ‘Paper constructs’

I experiment with light and natural fragments of the earth, captured and reframed through dioramas to create an alluring glimpse of the connection between Earthy forms and their inhabitants. Encouraging appreciation for our world.

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Lucia St Leon

Have your say!

Vote for you favourite student finalist in the Head On Student Awards People’s Choice!

Thank you to our wonderful judges: Aline Smithson, Bill Shapiro, Nicky Catley, Jesse Marlow, Gwen Lee, Natan Dvir, Krishna Sheth, James Whitlow Delano, Jessica Hromas, Moshe Rosenzveig OAM, Jasmine Robertson, and Laura Moore.

Head On Photo Awards finalist’s exhibitions are in Bondi. See all the finalists in the finalist’s exhibition pages Portrait, Environmental, Landscape and Student categories. 

With just 2 weeks until the Launch, prepare to embark on a visual odyssey at the Head On Photo Festival from 10 November – 3 December, where exhibitions featuring 700+ artists promise to unravel the intricacies of culture, resilience, and the passage of time. Read on for a sneak peek into a handful of Featured shows from this year’s Festival!

First on the list is “Dogg Pound Days” by Karabo Mooki, a mesmerising exhibition at Bondi Beach Promenade. Mooki invites you on a visual journey into the heart of Soweto, where influential youth culture defies stereotypes. “Dogg Pound Days” is a compelling inquiry into the unexpected growth of this culture, illuminated by the rebellious spirits of Punk Rock and skateboarding. In a landscape resistant to ‘white music and white sports,’ Mooki’s lens captures the unyielding determination of youth to pursue dreams, tearing down societal expectations.

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Karabo Mooki

Matthew Newton unveils a 20-year documentation of Tasmania’s contested forests in “The Forest Wars.” These landscapes, often battlegrounds hidden from public view, become a canvas for the struggle between big business, corporate interests, and community activism. Newton’s work sheds light on the power of the forest wars to expose corruption and threats to democracy. Through his lens, he hopes to evoke care and empathy, igniting a collective desire for real change.

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Matthew Newton

Arrayah Loynd’s series, “Come and Find Me,” takes us on an intimate exploration of the convergence of trauma and memory. Through a continuous blending of multiple images from near and distant pasts, Loynd crafts a visual embodiment of the confusion within her mind. It’s a journey through pain and peace, an artistic endeavor to encapsulate the complex emotions that arise when memory and trauma intersect.

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Arrayah Loynd

Brent Lewin’s exhibition, “Stealing Beauty,” delves into the captivating traditions of the Apatani and Chin tribes, dwelling in India’s Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar’s Chin States. Focused on the unique art of female facial tattooing and modification, the exhibit explores the historical roots of these practices—a defense against the kidnapping of their women. While originally linked to notions of ugliness, the tradition has evolved over generations, transforming into a powerful symbol of courage, beauty, and strength for these indigenous communities.

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Brent Lewin

Matthew Newton, Arrayah Loynd and Karabo Mooki will be amongst other Featured exhibitors and experts sharing their insights at Head On Conversations—a series of panel-style discussions designed to explore and provoke thought on photography-related topics. It’s a rare opportunity to delve into the minds behind the lens to understand better the stories captured and the impact they aim to create.

Don’t miss your chance to be part of these enlightening conversations. Secure your tickets now at headon.org.au/head-on-conversations and immerse yourself in a world where photography becomes a powerful vehicle for storytelling and connection.

The countdown is on! With less than a month until the Head On Photo Festival 2023 launches, we want to share a sneak peek into key venues and a look at what’s to come for the program.

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Graham Cordery

Every year, the world-renowned Head On Photo Festival is a fantastic opportunity to see the work of emerging and established photographers from Australia and worldwide.

It’s also a chance to learn more about the art of photography and meet other photography enthusiasts at free exhibitions, live panel discussions, artist talks and more.

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Christian Fuchs

This year, you can visit us at key venues across Sydney, returning to audience-favourite outdoor exhibitions at Bondi Beach Promenade and the historic Paddington Reservoir Gardens.

Festival highlights include the world premiere of the Head On Portrait Awards 2023 at Bondi Pavilion Gallery.

A number of key photojournalism exhibitions at The Muse, TAFE NSW, Ultimo. Conveniently located in the heart of Central Sydney, The Muse will showcase five exhibitions capturing the struggles of the people enduring the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and other intimate visual stories on important social issues.

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Paula Bronstein

We have included here a tiny selection of images from the Festival.

Graham Cordery’s show to be displayed at Bondi Beach Promenade captures what locals get up to on the UK’s hottest-ever day on record, 22 July 2022.

Peruvian photographer Christian Fuchs’ series ‘Transgeneration’ will be one of the shows at Paddington Reservoir Gardens. The exhibition is a body of work composed of self-portraits inspired by images from the 19th century, through which Fuchs can embody his ancestors.

American photojournalist Paula Bronstein harrowing images from the Ukraine war will be displayed at the Muse alongside other photojournalists.

With 6-12 shows at our key venues, you won’t want to miss a destination!

Festival exhibitions are also on show at gallery spaces across Sydney, including Delmar Gallery, Stirrup Gallery and the Goethe Institute.

AND, DON’T MISS OUR CONVERSATION PROGRAM at The Muse Gallery, TAFE NSW, Ultimo on Saturday 11 November – watch out for more details in the coming days.

The Head On Photo Festival returns from 10 November to 3 December 2023 with a jam-packed program at spectacular locations.

Head On ran the first Head On Heads Out photo-meet with 15 photographers from across New South Wales at various stages of their practice. The event featured presentations by Judith Crispin and Murray Fredericks with surprise guest speaker Grahame Howe. 

At the photo meeting, attendees had lively conversations about ideas, experiences, and techniques and shared their work. The event was a real celebration of Australian photography! 

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Head On Foundation
Meet and greet at the Kandos Hotel

Moshe Rosenzveig OAM opened the photo-meet discussing major influences in landscape photography. Cementa’s Creative Director, Alex Wisser, introduced us to the town of Kandos and its biannual arts festival, Cementa. 

During our visit to Capertee National Park, Murray demonstrated his still photography and time-lapse techniques. He also shared insights about his upcoming project, BLAZE, and discussed the challenges of landscape photography. 

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Head On Foundation
On location at Capertee National Park

Grahame showcased British photographer E. O. Hoppé’s journey through depression-era Australia in the 1930s, capturing the nation’s true spirit. It is one of Australia’s most comprehensive national portraits taken by a single photographer in any era. 

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Head On Foundation
Graham Howe discusses Hoppé’s photograph Aboriginal Dance, Palm Island, Queensland, 1930
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E. O. Hoppé
Early morning, Pemberton, Western Australia, 1930

Judith inspired everyone to experiment with photography and connect with the land more deeply. She demonstrated her chromatography process and guided us through making our first chromagraphs.

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Head On Foundation
Judith Nangala Crispin discusses her alternative photographic process.
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(L) Participants setting up chromatographic prints. (R) Final artwork

On the second day, participants had an opportunity to showcase their photographic prowess by presenting a portfolio and receiving feedback from their peers. It was a great opportunity to learn from each other and improve skills. 

If you would like to receive information about our next Head On Heads Out in Regional NSW, please sign up for our newsletter below. 

Head On Foundation has organised and subsidised this event in collaboration with Cementa with support from Create NSW. 

Head On Foundation has organised and subsidised this event in collaboration with Cementa with support from Create NSW.

McFarlane remains one of Australia’s most distinguished documentary photographers due to his keen eye, which could recognize a defining moment quicker than anyone else. Some of his most iconic shots include images of The Beatles arriving in Australia and a young Indigenous activist named Charles Perkins. From Bob Hawke to Cate Blanchett, Robert sought to capture ordinary moments that became extraordinary through the connections made between his lens and his monumental subjects.

Robert not only shaped Australian photography but also shaped Australian photographers as practitioners and as individuals. The extent of his impact was easily recognisable through the multitude of online posts that poured in to commemorate a life well photographed.

Here are thoughts and memories collected for our friend, Robert.

There will be a memorial for Robert hosted by Warren at High Res in Mascot, 12:30pm 14 August. Please RSVP to attend

RSVP.

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Moshe Rosenzveig OAM
Robert and his son, Billy

I met Robert at the Australian Centre for Photography in the 90s, and we became great friends.

He was an outstanding photographer who captured the essence of life and a great storyteller visually, in person and in writing.

In 2004, I invited him to help select the work for the very first Head On Alternative Portraits, as it was called at the time at the late Michael’ Nagy’s Gallery.
As we went through the submitted pictures, Roger Scott turned up with some fresh prints of ‘Bea’; Robert’s face lit up as he recalled taking the picture.
Over the years, I spent many hours listening to his fascinating stories about other pictures, but his most precious memories were always about his son Morgan’s and his other son Billy’s adventures.

Robert loved people, life and nurturing new talent. He was also always very supportive of other photographers. He was one-of -a kind and we will all miss him dearly. 

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Moshe Rosenzveig OAM
Robert Mcfarlane, Roger Scott and Michael Nagy discussing Robert’s image ‘Bea’

Robert McFarlane was an esteemed Australian photographer and mentor with a talent for giving helpful feedback. He was known for his eloquent writing and erudite conversations and believed photography’s true power lay in its ability to speak to all levels of life. 

I remember when I gave my partner at the time Michael Snelling a book of portraits I have taken of him for his birthday. At the party, Robert was sitting in a big armchair, and he looked quietly at my book and then with gravitas told me he thought I had the makings of a good photographer. His words stayed with me always. 

It was a great honour for me as a young artist, to have the esteemed photographer, critic, mentor and leader in the art photography world review the show. I can’t say I agreed with all his comments though, especially when he complained “there is minimal evidence of the joy of constant, tactile monitoring that accompanies pregnancy and no evidence of the fathers”. It certainly is not constant joy Robert, which was one of the main points of my portraits! But his review, along with great media coverage on all platforms – print, tv, radio (pre-internet days), helped bring in huge audiences and turned out to be a huge success at Stills’ Elizabeth Street, Paddington gallery, and put my feminist photography on the map! 

His memorable images over his career are so important, providing a significant archive for our country. And his regularly SMH column was missed for much too long. Such a sensitive voice contributing to Australia’s photographic community. 

This accompanied image is of a group of ‘snappers’ taken (not sure what year or who took it) held on one of the gatherings on Anthony Browell’s tugboat Valiant Star. And such a slice of photographic history here as well, with Robert enthusiastically acknowledging in the midst of some illustrious photographers. Now sadly joining Lewis Morley and David Potts, all departed, but still surely practicing their skills ‘on the other side’.  

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‘Captain’ of Valiant Star Anthony Browell, Peter Solness, David Potts, Robert McFarlane waving enthusiastically in the middle, Dean Sewell, Lewis Morley, Jenny Templin, Roger Scott , Vince Lovecchio, ‘Doddie’ Ian Dodd in the middle and Tim Hixson.

Robert’s passing has the memories rising, the most striking occasion was when he offered to drive me to hospital for an unavoidable surgery. It was a very early appointed time so I was concerned that Rob could rise early enough to get me there on time, but as a man of his word he drove from Bondi Junction to pick me up in Annandale and delivered me to the door of Royal Women’s Hospital in Randwick. After the surgery he visited me daily in hospital arriving with an Iku sago pudding and a big smile and great conversations. He continued to visit me regularly with treats throughout my recovery.

We had developed a great working relationship over a few years, I assisted Robert with trying to organise his archive and general organising and tidying up. There was always a wonderful story to accompany the beautiful black and white portraits on vintage prints. He sometimes went out whilst I whizzed about and on his return he said ‘An angel has been here’. I will miss our conversations, his support and thoughtfulness to always enquire about my children. He was very devoted to his own.

I met Robert through Sandy Edwards, we were at an Artists house in Surry Hills where Robert was staying, and I took this photo in 2011 during that visit. He was so kind with his feedback regarding my photos and I was so in awe of him. We kept in touch through birthday wishes on Facebook and he sent me gifts of his beautiful bird photography. I am indebted to Robert for his gentle and generous soul, I am deeply saddened by his passing.

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Zorica Purlija

Robert McFarlane was a photographer who emerged in the seventies like many of us at a time in Australia when photography was coming into its own as an art formAs a photojournalist he covered social and political issues as well as the arts, mainly film and theatre. His photographs are quiet, but they strike human chords, he was not one for grandiose statements. He became a photographic critic published in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian. This is probably his greatest achievement, he became a voice for photography where nothing existed before.

I took this photo of him at his survey exhibition Still Point at the Western Sydney University in 2017. He is talking under a projection of his son Morgan. The Still Point is also the title of a documentary made about his work. Robert’s personal life was full of sadness, Morgan died as a teenager while travelling in India, and in his late life, Robert was confined to a wheelchair. This lack of movement must have been frustrating for him, but he still took photos, was cheerful and bore it all with good grace. Vale Robert McFarlane. 

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William Yang

Robert was a photographic institution in Sydney as I was finding my way as a young photographer. Not only was he a perceptive and poetic photographer, he was also an astute critic of the medium for publications such as The Sydney Morning Herald, in which he eloquently composed several very perceptive and greatly appreciated reviews of my exhibitions. Thank you for all you did for our medium, Robert. You have left a hole in photography as large as your heart. 

Robert taught me to take my time with an image, and truly think about what it is saying. Understand its visual language and how each image can talk to each other to create an overall narrative within a space or book. I learnt so much from Robert, more than any formal qualification could give you. Without him, I personally don’t feel Australian photography would be where it is today. 

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Paul McDonald

There will be a memorial for Robert hosted by Warren at High Res in Mascot, 12:30pm 14 August. Please RSVP to attend

RSVP.

Please add your comments below of your memories and farewells to Robert McFarlane. If you have any images or stories of how Robert impacted or inspired your photography, please email them to us at [email protected] so that we can continue to add to this testemony for a man who helped shape Australian photography.

The 2023 Head On Student Awards are now open for entries. Whether you or the student in your life live and breathe photography or just love playing with iPhone filters, the Head On Student Awards is an unmatched opportunity for students to put their art out into the world, be included in a world-class photography festival, be exhibited in a professional photography exhibition at Bondi Beach, and have a chance to win from a suite of prizes.

So, in preparation to welcome a whole new cohort of talented young photographers and to help you feel inspired, we wanted to look back at the Head On Student Awards’ past winners, discuss their work and why it’s amazing.

Leila Middleton

Leila Middleton is our current reigning Head On Student Awards winner. Leila is a committed photography enthusiast, and her powerful self-portrait entitled Me explores the intersection between photography and self-image/self-esteem. As she writes;

“I have never taken a picture of myself. Despite years of obsession with photography, I have always wanted to be behind the camera, not in front of it. After I took this photo, I wanted to edit my freckles, my eyebrows, my chin – everything I saw in myself that I disliked. I think that learning to like how I look is important, especially as a teenager. That’s why I left the photo unedited; I wanted it to be me.”

This raw and stripped-back exploration of self-image is a beautifully brave endeavour from a photographer who is well on their journey to discovering who they are, and who they may become.

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Leila Middleton

Chege Mbuthi

Chege Mbuthi’s is a young photographer and a fearless experimenter. As creatives, we often feel we need to justify our creations, but there is something very refreshing about Chege’s image By the front door, which they admit is an aesthetic experiment.

“By the front door is an image I captured during the first lockdown of 2021. As I found myself with more spare time, I began to experiment further with my portrait photography. As the name states, I took the shot at the front of my home, which has beautiful soft light filtered through one window, which fell upon my silhouette. The simplicity of the image, combined with the minimal colour, created an aesthetically pleasing image.”

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Chege Mbuthi

Joel Parkinson

Joel’s image captures something that many older photographers have attempted to capture in retrospect – but nothing beats getting the story straight from the source. Joel manages to capture something we all experience, but don’t really know how to put into words, though Joel does an excellent job on that front too.

“I have lived a life of certitude and ease; whose rhythms and indulgences were equally predictable and enjoyable. Yet, upon the approach of adulthood, I have inhabited an unstable terrain between childhood and adulthood. To me, this portrait illustrates the last vestiges of my innocence and the ever-growing maturity and individuality before the arrival of adulthood. Perhaps that is what adulthood means: a farewell to the familiar and a welcoming of the unknown.”

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Joel Parkinson

Aimee Sluga

Aimee Sluga is a strikingly talented photographer who has been on an upward trajectory since her win. Aimee went on to take out the top prize at the Silk Road Youth International Photography Competition at the Beijing Photo Festival with the same image.

Last year we caught up with Aimee and she let us know that “Since being in Head On I have been practising photography in my spare time whilst working part-time to save up. This year I am travelling overseas and would like to document my travels, before moving to Melbourne next year to study photography full time.” – Well done, Aimee!

Her image The last goodbye is a bittersweet image of the way many of us first experience death, saying goodbye to a grandparent. Aimee manages to tackle this challenging topic with grace and understanding exemplified by photographers three-times her age.

“My grandma was brought into hospital with severe pressure sores, dementia, pneumonia and weighing only 45 kg. She is completely reliant on nurses and no longer knows who I am. Although she was smiling, you could tell it she was in pain and it wasn’t a genuine smile, as though she was just copying my smile. I was shocked to see her this way and wanted to capture the sadness in a photo before she passed away.”

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Aimee Sluga

Hi Yin Chan

Our 2018 winner, Hi Yin Chan, used photography to capture something often overlooked… happiness. We often mistakenly conflate serious topics with serious photography. But the beauty of photography is how it can capture moments, whether these be moments of sadness, joy, pain, confusion, fear or the absence of all these things.

“Hiking has always been a way for me to escape. It is both scary and exciting when I think of my future. But at the end of the day, all I want for my future is FREEDOM.”

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Hi Yin Chan

Sophie Smith

Sophie Smith won with this beautiful image entitled Animated, which played with and manipulated unique qualities of the photographic medium.

“In ‘Animated’, I asked my best friend to play some music and dance to her heart’s content. The slow shutter speed caused her sequinned top to resemble sparks flying around her, representing energy and liveliness.”

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Sophie Smith

Isabelle Sijan

Isabelle Sijan expertly communicated an entire narrative within their seemingly simple portrait. She plays with ideas of subject and sitter, and the seen and the not seen, to create a compelling visual analogy of the unknown journey of growing-up.

“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.”

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Isabelle Sijan

We can’t wait to see what this year’s students will show us!

From prolific freelancers to passionate hobbyists to international superstars, all these photographers share a story of how the Head On Photo Awards strengthened their passion for photography and set them on a new path!

Want to join their ranks? The Head On Photo Awards 2024 entries open soon. Find out more!

Fiona Wolf

German-born photographer Fiona Wolf made Sydney her home in 2005. Since then, she has become a prolific photography-based practitioner, winning several accolades and tutoring other photographers.

“My first Head On win in 2010 got me set up with the gear that I needed to start shooting professionally. It also gave me the confidence to believe in my style. Although it might not always be what the mainstream is after.

“The second win at Head On Photo Awards in 2020 was so uplifting in very dire times during the pandemic. A lot of freelance photographers went through tough times. Now, I like focusing on passion projects and taking things as they come. I am still shooting commercially and things are starting to balance out.”

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Fiona Wolf

Roger Grasas

Travel is at the core of Spanish-born photographer Roger Grasas’ practice. He has become internationally recognised for capturing nature-culture dichotomies in stunning clarity.

“The participation in the Head On Photo Awards and the Festival connected me with some relevant names (authors, curators, etc.) from the Asian Pacific area and, above all, strengthened my later presence in European festivals and photography fairs such as PhotoEspaña, Rencontres d’Arles, Cortona on the Move, PhotoLondon etc.

“The Awards gave me great self-confidence which continued with my following series ‘Ha Aretz’ which has just been published by Kehrer Verlag obtaining even better recognition than the previous work. Thank You Head On!

Roger Grasas also went on to be a Featured exhibitor in Head On Photo Festival 2021 – we are beyond pleased to continue our collaboration with this talented photographer.

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Roger Grasas

Molly Harris is an award winning Australian documentary photographer. She uses her photography as a platform to help people tell their story, and since winning the top award in the Head On Portrait category, Molly has continued to use photography to advocate for marginalised communities.

Since their win, Molly has been covered by publications like Buzzfeed and Vice Australia, focussing on her illuminating and empathetic work with transgender people, sex workers and people experiencing heroin addiction.

Molly has used her win at the Head On Photo Awards as a springboard to continure making projects that support and explore people in need.

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Molly Harris

Stephen Dupont

Stephen Dupont is an Australian photographer and director working on films, commercials, magazine and newspaper assignments and long-term personal projects, and his profile has only skyrocketed since his three Head On Photo Awards wins! 

Stephen Dupont has earned international acclaim for his work documenting people, cultures and environments fast disappearing from our world. Stephen captures the dignity of his subjects with great intimacy. Working in some of the world’s most dangerous and remote regions, his images contain valuable insight into marginalised people, fragile communities and devastated environments. 

Stephen’s work has earned him photography’s most prestigious prizes. He has held major exhibitions globally, and his artist books are held in distinguished collections worldwide. A leading portrait photographer, Stephen is regularly commissioned by renowned international publications and organisations. But perhaps what best speaks to his success, is his one-man theatrical show Don’t Look Away (2017) which tell the story ofhis dynamic career, personal story and his unique practice, which premiered at the Museum of Old & New Art (MONA). 

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Stephen Dupont

Marcia Macmillan

Marcia Macmillan is a burgeoning photographic talent. Now based in South Australia, Marcia has a natural tact for capturing the Australian landscape. 

“Winning the Landscape Award in 2020 has had an extraordinary impact on my life. I could never have imagined the global reach the win would have, or the ongoing attention the image would receive. The image has been featured in a range of exhibitions, academic journals and articles around the world, which has allowed me to meet some of the most interesting and talented people in their industries.   

Prior to my Head On win, I did not own a decent camera, so more than anything, I am loving my Sony Alpha and experimenting with a range of photographic techniques.   

My life took an unexpected turn mid last year when my husband was offered a job to manage a progressive sheep and cattle farm in the Fleurieu Peninsula, SA. Here, the terrain is rugged, wild and ever-changing, and is serving as a perfect and spectacular backdrop for my photography. When our family has settled into this next chapter of our lives, I would like to pursue a more creative avenue of work, including a more focused approach to my photography.   

I am eternally grateful to The Head On Photo Awards for the exceptional work they do. I also love the organisation’s philosophy; one which enables all people to submit their work to a panel of judges who select winning images based on photographic merit rather than reputation – this is incredibly rare, and provides unknown artists with life-changing opportunities and industry recognition.” 

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Marcia Macmillan

Brian Cassey

Brian has worked as a freelance photographer and photojournalist for several decades, servicing Australian & international news media and wires. His work has been published extensively around the world.

Since his win in 2013, Brian has exhibited and collaborated with Head On continuously and fruitfully throughout the years. Most recently with his fabulous exhibition (Selections from) A photographer’s life – part two as part of the Featured program of Head On Photo Festival 2022. A photographer’s life – part two is a retorspective of the amazing lives and stories he has witnessed through his prolific career in photojournalism, a follow up to his previous Head On Exhibition in 2016 A photographer’s life – part one. Part two, exemplifies Brian’s professional success as this iteration of his personal work depicts far more personal projects he was able to undertake.

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Brian Cassey

Tobias Titz

Tobias Titz is a freelance photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. Over the last ten years, he has worked for a range of local and international magazines and commercial clients.

“Plenty has happened! I got married we had a baby, moved house and still taking photos. I also started teaching Photography part-time at Monash University. 

“Working with First Nations communities and Art Centres is still my favourite – a trip to the Tiwi Islands for the National Gallery of Victoria in 2019 was a highlight.  

“Since I won the Head On in 2008 I have been a finalist in national and international Photography Awards and have won the Moran Contemporary Photography Prize in 2012 and the Art Handler Award at the National Portrait Prize in 2017.” 

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Tobias Titz

Aletheia Casey

Aletheia is a photographic artist based between Sydney and London. During the last 12 years she has published and worked with The Guardian, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Financial Times Magazine, BBC London and BBC World, Australian Associated Press, BBC Wales, SBS Television, and various international publications.

Aletheia’s unique photographic perspective won her the Head On Landscape Award in 2021. Since then Aletheia was named one of the ’31 photographers to watch’ by the British Journal of Photography and she took home the gold in the Australian Photography Awards in the Environmental Category in 2022. Aletheia’s Head On win has made the world take notice!

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Aletheia Casey

Ready to start your journey? Find out more about the Head On Photo Awards today!

To celebrate Head On Photo Awards, let’s take a trip down memory lane, to look at our past winners. This collection of past winning images outline a dynamic history of shifting and transforming techniques, tastes, events and cultural currents.

Stephen Dupont

Back in 2005, the Head On Photo Awards looked very different – there were no categories! It was purely a portrait photography competition, titled ‘Head On Alternative Portraits’, in direct response to popular arts awards like the Archibald. This was when Head On first developed its bespoke judging system that we have continued to this day. The judging system? Each photograph is judged without the name or any other details of the artist being known to the judging panel.

In 2005, Stephen Dupont was crowned the overall winner with his image from his series Papua New Guinea Raskol. He infiltrated a Raskol community and documented the rough and ruthless individuals involved in Papua New Guinea’s gang life, presenting formal portraits of the Kips Kaboni (Scar Devils), Papua New Guinea’s longest established criminal gang.

The image is raw, intimate, and perhaps most importantly, dangerous. Dupont’s image exemplifies something unique to the photographic medium, that photographers put themselves on the line to get the photo. This powerful evocation of the realness of photography would have been greatly admired by the judges at the beginning of the Head On Photo Awards – which was trying to establish itself amidst a world of more traditional art forms.

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Stephen Dupont

Tobias Titz

A couple of years on, Head On had grown immensely. The Awards were still focused on portrait photography, but Head On itself, and the wider photography community was beginning to really embrace the fluidity and adaptability of the photography style, and how diverse this made the medium.

So, it seems almost obvious in retrospect that Tobias Titz took home the gold that year. Titz’s image Ginger Bob is a product of his collaboration with the Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre and members from communities including Port Hedland, Roebourne and Warralong. Creating a body of photographs that articulate thoughts, opinions and experiences regarding the 1967 referendum. The image is diptych containing an intimate polaroid paired with the subject’s mark-making (etchings made by Ginger Bob into the wet emulsion of the large format Polaroid negative), creating an all-encompassing sense of a person from outside and from within.

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Tobias Titz

Louise Whelan

2012 marked a year of going back to basics, which is potent in this year’s winners. Each winner seems to underscore the raw stripped-back power of portrait photography, declaring that at its core, portraiture – to take an image of a fellow human and have that image say something – is a profound thing. And Louise Whelan’s simple portrait does this beautifully.

As Whelan explains; “This portrait of my niece Millie captures her melancholic mood, a mood which can be attributed to her grieving process. Millie the youngest of four children lost her father to a sudden heart attack 2 years ago. Millie can be happy with smiles one minute, then remembering her loss calls out “I want my dad!” Death is an inescapable part of life.”

A sense of intimacy, trust and the universal experience of grief and growing pains are captured in full-force in this full-frontal image. Though it’s not stated, we feel Whelan’s empathy for her niece and the shared grief they both still harbour for their loved one. A one-of-a-kind image that never goes out of style.

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Louise Whelan

Nick Hannes

In 2014, Head On introduced new categories into the Head On Photo Awards repertoire, which at this stage included Portrait, Landscape and Mobile.

This change transformed the Awards into an all-encompassing photographic event (not that it wasn’t before, mind you). But it truly opened up a world of possibilities, and the finalists of that year seemed to reflect the excitement of this expansion, embracing the different stories different formats can tell.

Nick Hannes was the winner of the inaugural Head On Landscape Award with his image entitled Cairo, Egypt, an image that captures the stark ways culture and capitalism are grafted into our world. The image depicts blank advertisement billboards on a desolate highway in Egypt, a landscape known for its grand cultural monuments.

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Nick Hannes

Zay Yar Lin

The Mobile category within the Head On Photo Awards ran from 2014 to 2019 – now we accept and encourage photography taken on mobile phones in all categories!

Throughout the Mobile category’s lifespan, we can track a progression from admiration of mobile phones ability to create technically brilliant photography (just like a real camera!) to a deeper exploration of the idiosyncrasies of the medium itself. Which is what Zay Yar Lin’s image exemplifies.

Lin’s image is almost an optical illusion. Masquerading as two images tied together in a diptych it is actually the railing of a ship, perfectly aligned in the centre of the frame splitting the image between the ship decked being cleaned and waves breaking.

This kind of mastery of composition, speaks to the movability and immediacy of the mobile phone as a spontaneous instrument of image-making.

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Zay Yar Lin

As seasoned organisers of the world-renowned Head On Photo Awards (Est 2004), we have long been answering people’s questions about whether entering photo contests are worth it. And we think we have narrowed down the main reasons why a photographer should invest their time, energy and work into a photo competition.

So, whether you’re a beginner photographer or a grizzled seasoned pro, read on to learn why we think you should enter a photo contest!

Okay, let’s start with the obvious – PRIZES. But remember, not all prizes are born equal. Some contests offer monetary awards, others high-quality gear, and some, simply prestige. Head On Photo Awards offers all three, boasting a prize pool of over $70,000, including $30,000 in cash prizes, cameras and other gear, subscriptions, and a one-of-a-kind exhibition. So, make sure you check what prizes a certain competition is actually offering, and don’t assume that all have a cash element! Prizes of cash and gear are a great return in your investment into a competition since they feed directly back into your photography career and help fund your future projects.

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Talia Barton
2022 Head On Portrait Award Australian Runner-up, Amy Woodward accepting her prize with her little one.

The exhibition of photography competitions is, in our humble opinion, the real prize. These types of exhibitions are often extremely popular, as photographers and the general public alike, want to see what a winning image looks like. As proven by the Head On Portrait, Landscape and Student Awards finalist exhibitions at Bondi Beach and Paddington Reservoir Gardens which receive tens of thousands of visitors each year. These exhibitions are an instant injection of acclaim into a photographer’s reputation!

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Stephen Godfrey
2022 Head On Landscape Award Finalist exhibition along Bondi Beach

Have you reviewed your photography work lately? As photographers, we tend to put on blinders – focusing on the enjoyable side of taking photos and choosing the best one for our daily Instagram post. However, we often need a reminder that our photography doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and though you might ‘get it’, others may not.

Even if your photos are not chosen as the overall winner, participating in a photo contest can still be beneficial. Placing your images within a competitive context, while scary, can help you gain new insight into your own work and practice. Listen to the judges, look at other finalists’ work, not to compare yourself to others but to see your own work for what it is. It will allow you to see what makes your work unique, which you can only do when it’s put next to someone else’s.

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Sarah Wright
Three of 2022’s Exhibitors leading a portfolio review discussion as part of Head On Photo Festival 2022

Now we know this sounds cheesy, but being cheesy doesn’t make it any less true!

Submitting your work to a photo contest is an extremely nerve-racking experience, and leaves you, as a creator, vulnerable to criticism (some helpful, some maybe not so much). Being open to feedback takes practice, and it not only gets easier to stomach the more you do it, but the more you do it, the more confident you become in sifting through the opinions and perspectives you receive and find the insights that will actually be helpful to you. Not to mention, if your photos are selected, it means that other people have recognized and validated your talent and skill.

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Talia Barton
Projection of finalist images at the launch of the Head On Photo Awards (2022)

If you are selected as a Finalist – in the Head On Photo Awards, we select 40 Finalists for the Portrait and Landscape Awards, and 20 Finalists for the Student and Environmental Awards – your photos will gain widespread exposure, being featured on the contest website, social media, digital media, and in print publications. This can help you attract new clients and buyers, and can act as substantial and transactional additions to your portfolio and growing brand.

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Kent Johnson
The line to enter the launch of the 2022 Head On Photo Awards

Photographers are often solitary creatures. We prefer the satisfying click of a shutter, to a discussion of the weather. But the great thing about photo competitions is that you all already have something in common. The announcement of the winners for the Head On Photo Awards is a celebratory night filled with discussion, food and drink, where we come together to admire the breadth and diversity of the photography on display that year. It is a microcosm of photographic insight, and the conditions are perfect to make valuable connections. Skip the small talk, discuss your photography with others, admireother people’s efforts and build a network based on solidarity.

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William Liu
Discussion at the launch of the 2022 Head On Photo Awards

The trick is to be open and honest with yourself about what your goals are at this very moment. Do you want more exposure? Are you looking to build your portfolio? Do you think you need a win on your CV? Are you just in it for the money? (Hey, no shame in that!) 

While we believe photo contests are definitely worth it (though we may be a little biased), we understand that competition isn’t for everyone. Be real with yourself, understand what you are getting into, and see the value beyond the chance of winning.  

If that’s too much self-reflection for you, then what the hell!, enter the Head On Photo Awards – who knows, maybe you’ll win 😉 

Known for his symmetrical compositions, vibrant colour palettes, and meticulous attention to detail, Anderson creates whimsical and visually captivating worlds in his films. It’s what we call the Wes Anderson aesthetic – which is equal parts; tea at grandmas, manic pixie dream girl, and uniform passport photo.

If you’re eager to infuse your own photography with the charming essence of Wes Anderson, look no further. And to help you achieve this elaborate vision we have culminated past Head On Photo Awards finalists and Head On Photo Festival exhibitors that nailed the Anderson-look.

Symmetry is a hallmark of Wes Anderson’s visual style. Aim for balanced compositions, with centered or evenly distributed subjects. Pay attention to the lines and structures within your frame, such as architecture, landscapes, or even props, and utilize them to create a sense of harmony and order. Consider using a tripod to ensure precise alignment and maintain a consistent aesthetic throughout your photos.

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Stuart Miller
2021 Head On Portrait Awards Finalist
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Jacob Wallwork
2022 Landscape Awards Finalist

Colour palettes in Wes Anderson’s films are often vibrant and carefully curated, contributing to the overall whimsical atmosphere. Experiment with bold, complementary colour combinations that catch the eye. Pastel hues, vintage tones, and pops of primary colors can help evoke the Anderson aesthetic. Think about how different colours interact within your frame and how they can enhance the mood or story you want to convey. Use colours as big bold signifiers – Hotel? Make it pastel pink. Sky? Make it pure robin’s egg blue. A suit? Make it a dirty suede orange.

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Jo Brunenberg
2022 Head On Photo Festival Featured Exhibitor
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Andrew Rovenko
2022 Head On Portrait Awards Finalist & Head On Photo Festival Featured Exhibitor

Wes Anderson’s films are known for their intricate set designs and meticulously arranged props. Nothing is lived in and nothing is touched! If something is in disarray – it’s the most meticulous disaster you’ve ever seen! To achieve a similar level of detail in your photos, focus on incorporating whimsical and quirky elements. Select props and objects with interesting textures and shapes that add visual interest to your composition that hint at a hidden narrative. Take your time to arrange the elements within your frame to create a cohesive and visually pleasing narrative.

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Julia Gunther
2022 Head On Portrait Awards Finalist
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Aaron Yeandle
2022 Head On Photo Festival Featured Exhibitor

Anderson often utilizes unique aspect ratios, such as the boxy 1.85:1 or the even more square 1.37:1, to frame his scenes. This adds to the viscerally manufactured feeling – that is so Anderson. That we are witnessing a highly choregraphed farce. While aspect ratios can be adjusted during post-processing, consider experimenting with different aspect ratios in-camera to achieve a more authentic Anderson look. These unconventional ratios can add an extra layer of visual storytelling and give your photos a cinematic feel.

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Kristie Lee
2022 Head On Photo Festival Featured Exhibitor
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Dina Alfasi
2022 Head On Photo Festival Featured Exhibitor

Anderson’s films are well lit. If you’re familiar with his work, you will notice that every detail in each scene is always highly visible, even for night scenes and even super zoomed-out scenes. Other than adjusting the brightness and exposure of your photo, you can reduce the contrast and highlights to make it dreamlike and emulate vintage photography.

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Nick Hinch
2022 Head On Landscape Award Finalist
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Oded Wagenstein
2021 Head On Portrait Award Finalist

Got the Anderson look? Why not enter the Head On Photo Awards?

The Head On Environmental Awards by Australia Geographic is a unique bracket within the roster of Head On Photo Awards categories (Portrait, Landscape and Student), that will support visual storytellers to explore the issues and challenges affecting the wellbeing of our environment. These include, but are not limited to, human-induced climate change, biodiversity loss, habitat destruction, unsustainable development, feral invasive species, pollution, ocean acidification and climate-change-induced extreme weather events.

The following photographers look beyond the landscape to see the world as an active agent – wishing to capture, raise awareness and drive positive change for the planet and the ways it is being impacted. There were so many brilliant photographers who do just this, that we had to split the list into two! So, if you haven’t already – go read Part 1!

Photographer Cristina Mittermeier dedicates her life to creating images that help us understand the urgent need to protect wild places. Born in Mexico, Cristina first discovered her insatiable passion for the natural world, both above and below the surface, as a marine biologist working in the Gulf of California and Yucátan Peninsula. Specializing in conservation issues surrounding the ocean and indigenous cultures, Mittermeier has worked in more than 100 countries on every continent in the world.

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Cristina Mittermeier

Sebastião Salgado is a renowned documentary photographer and photojournalist with a deep love and respect for nature while also sensitive to the socio-economic conditions that impact human beings. He has traveled to over 120 countries for his projects. He is perhaps most known for his long-term social documentary projects. Among them: Migrations (2000), a tribute to mass migration driven by hunger, natural disasters, environmental disaster and population explosion.

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Sebastião Salgado

Dr Judith Nangala Crispin is a poet and visual artist and a proud descendent of the Bpangerang people. She uses photographic technologies in unexpected ways to explore her connection to Country.

Judith takes a micro approach to enviro-photography. Rather than attempting to capture “the whole picture” of the climate crisis, Judith captures the seemingly insignificant in an attempt to make the climate crisis unnervingly intimate.

“[I] devote my practice to elevating the importance of the small casualties of human ecocide. If we can begin to see the life of a finch as having the same importance as the life of a Prime Minister or celebrity, then we will pay more attention to the environments we destroy.”

Read more here

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Judith Nangala Crispin

Sydney-based multi-award-winning photographer Chris Round primarily investigates our ever-changing relationship with our 21st-century environment, documenting landscapes and exploring ideas of place. Chris Round’s series The grand scheme deals with the Snowy Hydro Scheme. It is the most ambitious hydroelectric project in Australian history, often called a world wonder.

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Chris Round

Frank Hurley was an Australian photographer and adventurer known for his pioneering work documenting several famous expeditions, most notably his collaboration with Sir Ernest Shackleton on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917. Despite facing extreme conditions, Hurley’s photographs captured the harsh beauty and relentless challenges of the Antarctic environment, showcasing his mastery of composition and technical skill. His iconic images, such as the hauntingly preserved shipwrecked “Endurance” and the stark icy landscapes, continue to inspire awe and fascination.

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Frank Hurley

Australian photographer Murray Fredericks through his landscape photography creates spiritually minded encounters with the hyper-real. Capturing the climate crisis is not the meaning of Murray’s work, it’s the context. To capture a landscape without considering climate change is to disconnect the natural world from its fundamental condition.

“I’m not a documentary photographer. I think those people fulfil probably the most important role in this area, but as an art Photographer – it’s got to be more than just recording. What I do is a long-term body of work, a different type of contemplation.”

Murray doesn’t make climate change visible; he underscores its invisibility through prolonged attention to the natural world, pushing us to consider how enormous its impacts are.

Read more here

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Murray Fredericks

Ansel Adams is widely regarded as one of the greatest landscape photographers of all time. His black–and–white photographs of the American West, particularly Yosemite National Park, are instantly recognisable and have gone a long way in shaping how we see and talk about landscape photography today. His ability to create compositions that simultaneously focused on abstract details while still capturing the wide branching majesty of sweeping landscapes taught us how to re-see our environments through new eyes.

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Ansel Adams

Tasmania based, self-taught, and travel-hungry Hoelen has lived a diverse career over his two decades as an image-maker with a consistent focus on humanitarian and conservation-based projects.

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Paul Hoelen

Born in Warsaw, New York, in 1969, Justine Kurland is a prolific photographer that uses varying environments as an insightful mirror into developing adolescence. Her series Girl Pictures, captures teenagers in different environments, playing, exploring, destroying, and growing. Her images are not only a lyrical testament to how young girls find themselves in nature and learn things they simply could not elsewhere, her images also cast a critical lens on the value of untouched wilderness and how our treatment of nature is directly linked to the legacy of our children.

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Justine Kurland

Edward Burtynsky explores landscapes that have been transformed by human enterprise, what he calls the “indelible human signature” on the planet. Burtynsky’s large-scale aerial photographs reference the often surreal qualities of human-altered landscapes. Chronicling the major themes of terraforming and extraction, urbanisation and deforestation, Burtynsky conveys the unsettling reality of sweeping resource depletion and extinction. 

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Edward Burtynsky

Ami Vitale is an American photojournalist, documentary filmmaker, educator and speaker. She is well-known for her 2018 photo book titled Panda Love which captures pandas within captivity and being released into the wild and the people who go to extroadinary lengths to care for them- dawning Panda-onesies to put the creatures at ease.

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Ami Vitale

Want to get back to nature? Enter the Head On Environmental Awards!

 

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Head On Photo Awards 2024

Entries to the Head On Photo Awards 2024 open in May/June.

Image detail: Gary Ramage