While Annie Liebovitz is never afraid to fall in love with her subjects, Dorothea Lange sees the camera as “an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”
Either way, there is a humanity to photography that lends itself to portraiture so inherently. Here at Head On HQ our definition of a portrait is, “An image that features or reflects the essence of a person or group of people.” It is this broad definition of portraiture that connects us to so many fascinating images. We understand that capturing the nature of people and the traces of their existence comes from more than a traditional head-shot.
It is the ideas of ‘trace’ and ‘essence’ that lends itself perfectly to the 2013 Portrait Prize Finalist image ‘Ned Kelly’ by Damien Pleming. While most people would consider this a fine-art image, we see the connection to ontology, or the nature of being.
We see the physical trace of Ned Kelly, his skeleton, but knowing this is Ned Kelly’s skeleton brings so much more out of the image. We begin to associate with Ned Kelly’s personality and all the things he represents, we start to think about history and social memory.
The portrait prize is where Head On Photo Festival began back in 2004. Festival director, Moshe Rosenzveig began looking at works previously entered in the Art Gallery of NSW photographic exhibition and turned in into Head On numero uno. The portrait prize has come a long way and today, is still the festival’s centrepiece with a rich cash prize of $5000 for its winner AND some top of the line Olympus and Adobe equipment, AND an exhibition at the Museum of Sydney… What’s not to love?
It only costs $30 to enter or $25 for members. Finalists’ costs are covered and, FYI, we’re a non-profit organisation so all the money goes straight back into the festival. This year for the first time, we’ve gone international! So come and join the portrait party across the pond.