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Image credit: Lesley Downie

When Charles McKean began inviting photographers into the first AddOn in 2011, some he approached were sceptical.

“Some people got stuck into me saying, “I look after artists. Why would they pay to give you a free picture?” he recalls. Another asked why they would want to put an image on display anonymously.”

But in AddOn’s second year, the exhibition grew enough to give little doubt that many photographers wanted to be involved – even if it is a concept that involves checking their ego in at the door.

The idea of an exhibition without names, was developed and curated by McKean and Head On Photo Festival Director Moshe Rosenzveig OAM, and attracted over 90 invited guests in its first year.

“I wanted to have an exhibition that echoed Head On’s philosophy of inclusivity and removed the hierarchy among photographers” says Moshe.

Image credit (L to R): Charles McKean, Belinda Keyte, Az Jackson, David Young

Participants say the sense of freedom is appealing; freedom from their names, freedom from usual equipment and freedom from whatever holes they might be pegged in.

“People tell me they value the spirit of the exhibition,” says Charles. “The bit they enjoy the most is to be with other photographers who they wouldn’t normally exhibit with”.

“There is also excitement and mystery. We don’t want people to look at a wall and pay more attention to one image because it is from a particular photographer. we want them to look at the photographs rather than the photographer.”

New, affordable DSLRs are advertised as giving people the option of shooting like pros; AddOn encourages non-professionals to work hard and professionals to work in simple terms.

The professionals have their work presented anonymously and invited celebrities are challenged to create in the photographic medium. They really stepped up to the plate. When I invited Kamal, I thought ‘What is he going to put in, a shot of another celebrity?’ Not at all! He put in a picture of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington because that means a lot to him.

Image credit (L to R):  John McRae, Lara Gilks, Christian Sprogoe, Stewart James Hawkins

Submissions are skillfully curated by Rosenzveig and McKean to create an exhibition and an accompanying book as part of each annual Head On Photo Festival.

What are the curators looking for?

Anything thought-provoking, eclectic, quirky and unique. Well, almost anything.

“We don’t want cliches, snapshots of kids, or holiday pictures from a market in Thailand” says Charles.

Prints are square and small, so non-pros are not disadvantaged by their equipment. Mobile phone images are also acceptable, another reason why the square format works well – and levels out the playing field.

Any profits raised go to the Head On Foundation to support and encourage photographers.

AddOn submissions cost $120 which pays for work to be curated, printed, hung and published in a catalogue, drinks at the opening event* and a chance to exhibit with some of Australia’s best image-makers. 

AddOn 2022 will be on display* as part of Head On Photo Festival November 2022; venue and dates TBC.

*Subject to Public Health Orders

Enter now

The deadline to submit is Monday, 22 August. 11 pm (Sydney time). Submit here


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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