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Image credit: Stephen Godfrey

Our small but stalwart Head On Foundation team – Anita Schwarz, Stephen Godfrey, Anna Honan, Georgia Hawken, Paula Broom and Moshe Rosenzveig OAM – supported by our wonderful sponsors, have worked hard behind the scenes to deliver an incredible hybrid online and in person launch event.   

The Launch and Award ceremony was held on Friday, November 19 online streamed from Paddington Reservoir Gardens. One of Australia’s favourite TV personalities Osher Günsberg once again hosted the event in front of a virtual audience of thousands.  

We’re delighted to announce the winners of the 2021 Head On Photo Awards, from which we received thousands of submissions from around 65 countries around the world. The winners share a staggering prize pool of $70,000, consisting of cameras, camera equipment, Adobe packages, books, magazine subscriptions, vouchers and more.   

Congratulations to all our winners.  

Our thanks go to our major partner Sony, and also Olympus, Adobe, Photobook Australia, Photo Review, Camera Electronic, and Better Photography.   

Thanks also to Osher, to the event team Dplr for the live stream,  and the Head On team and volunteers for bringing this fantastic opening event to life and this year’s judges who worked so hard to review the entries to reach the final decision on finalists and winners. 


Ben Smith, London-based documentary, portrait and lifestyle photographer and podcaster  
Brett Rogers, Director of The Photographers’ Gallery, London  
Cheryl Newman, UK-based artist, curator, educator, past Photography Director, Telegraph Magazine  
Daniella Zalcman, US-based award-winning documentary photographer and founder of Women Photograph  
Jenny Papalexandris, NSW-based photographer and educator  
Lisa Springer, Curator of Touring Photography Exhibition Curator, V&A, London  
Louise Fedotov-Clements, Artistic Director, QUAD & Director, FORMAT International Photography Festival  
Matt Palmer, award-winning Victorian-based AIPP Master of Photography  
Moshe Rosenzveig OAM, Founder and Director, Head On Photo Festival  
Nicky Catley, Picture Editor, Sydney Morning Herald and Photographic Curator  
Phil González, Madrid-based digital consultant, author and founder of the Instagramers Network  
Pippa Milne, Senior Curator, Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne  
Roger Ballen, one of the most influential and important photographic artists today  
Tariq Zaidi, award-winning London-based photographer and author  
Younes Mohammed, award-winning Iraqi-based photographer  




Gideon Mendel (UK) - Jenni Bruce at her burnt home in Upper Brogo, New South Wales, January 2020 

Jenni is a sculptor. “… it was all gone. I had a great workshop with tools that I had spent a lifetime gathering. I had a huge collection of paints and canvases, and I was working on a new body of work to exhibit. It was just devastating to lose that amount of hard work… I wish the people in power would listen; I wish they would stop using industries that are so bad for our environment.” 



Joseph-Philippe Bevillard (Ireland) - Donoghue brothers, Galway, Ireland, 2019 

For many boys and girls in the travelling communities, boxing is one of their favourite sports and a big part of their culture. 



Mark Forbes (Victoria) - Perfect stranger 

Sometimes a photo is asking to be taken. This was the case when a perfect stranger walked into the restaurant where I was eating, and I happened to have my camera with me. Sometimes all you have to do is ask. Thanks to Terry for being up for this portrait. 

Vote for your favourite Portrait Award image






Aletheia Casey (Australia) - A lost place 

This work is a personal reaction to the Australian fires of 2019/2020, which almost destroyed my family home. Although I have lived much of my adult life abroad, Australia is, and always will be, my home. As I watched the fires from London, feeling powerless to help family and friends, I painted on prints from my last time in Australia with oils and inks. I reworked them in an attempt to implant my fear and powerlessness into the imagery. 



Juan Carlos Pinto Márquez (Mexico) – Petals swarm 

A long exposure of a cherry tree in full bloom reflects in a pond alongside a weeping cherry tree not yet in bloom. The movement of the blossom petals floating in the pond resembles a meteor shower or the passing of a swarm of luminous insects. I took this photo at the Taiheiyo Club golf course in Yachiyo, Chiba, Japan. 



Raoul Slater (Queensland) – Kangaroo Court 

For the 40 years of my creative life, I’ve battled my Aspergic tendencies toward formalism, symmetry and the right angle. Even when ostensibly photographing wildlife, I find myself dividing a photo into geometrical planes. This practice settles the disquiet in my head that is set buzzing by the glorious randomness of life. I love the chaotic images of Gary Winogrand and Vivian Meier, but I simply can’t take them. They hurt too much.  


Vote for your favourite Landscape Award image






Chege Mbuthi (Victoria) - By the front door 

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. 



Holly Houssarini (New South Wales) – Contemplation 

Tati looking in the drawers with her old sewing supplies in her sewing room full of fabric and thread. 



Leila Edelstein (Victoria) – The girl and the cat that died 

Kiera clinging to our beloved, late Tigger. 


Vote for your favourite Student Award image



You can see the Portrait and Students Awards at the stunning Paddington Reservoir Gardens and the Landscape Awards along the promenade at the magnificent Bondi Beach, 20-28 November. 

See our full program of exhibitions and events here.