The Head On Awards cover categories in Portrait, Landscape, Mobile and Student photography. 2016 was the 13th year of the Portrait Prize which is as fresh and thought-provoking as ever, continuing to question the concept of photographic portraiture. The Landscape Prize, now 4 years old, situated in the gracious surrounds of NSW Parliament House, brought together a diverse collection exploring many innovative interpretations of a traditional genre. The Mobile Prize, inaugurated in 2014,  is always full of surprises as people continue to explore new and exciting ways to create images across all genres (not just selfies :). Our newest addition, now in its second year is the Student Prize and it is truly exciting to see young people (6-18) come up with unexpected and unbounded views of the world.

Over the years, Head On Foundation awarded over $500,000 in cash and products to the winners.

This year Judging panel included Alison Zavos (Feature Shoot Editor), Alyx Gorman (Time Out Sydney Editor), Dimitri Beck (Polka Magazine Editor), Doug Spowart (Photographer), Louise Whelan (Photographer), Michael Grecco (Photographer), Michael Reid (Gallery Director), Moshe Rosenzveig (Festival Director), Myles Little (Time Magazine Photo Editor), Olly Lang (Photographer), Sally Brownbill (Creative Consultant), Susan Dooley (Emeritus Professor), Ron Haviv (VII Photo Agency). You can find more information about our judges here.

Thank you to all our sponsors who contributed to the massive prize pool of cash and products to a value of well over $50,000. This year our prize sponsors were ArtHead, FujiFilm Australia, Desane, Adobe, PDN, MOO, Better Photography and AIPP. We also thank our generous venue partners – NSW Parliament House and Museum of Sydney. For more details about the prizes click here.


Portrait Prize



Some years ago, 29 year-old lawyer Oscar Prieto was diagnosed with brain cancer. Following surgery, chemotheraphy and radiotherapy, Oscar was able to beat the disease. Nowadays, he is the president of ASATE, an organization which provides help and guidance to those affected by brain cancer. By showing his own scars, Oscar tries to inspire and demonstrate that one can overcome cancer.


Toxic trespass Sameer 16 years old – Giles Clarke

Sameer, 16, is held by his mother Wahida at home in Bhopal’s Jamalpura neighborhood. Sameer was born to parents contaminated by carcinogenic and mutagenic water stemming from the 1984 Union Carbide gas tragedy which has claimed 25,000 lives to date. For decades thousands of families have used contaminated water leading to serious illness and birth defects, as afflicted Sameer. The title refers to scholar-activist Sandra Steingraber’s concept of toxic trespass, in which toxic chemicals enter our bodies without our consent.


High-scrollers – Kristian Taylor-Wood

Lauren is one of the shining lights of the increasingly fashionable tattoo industry. Her quirky and unique pop-art tattooing style and expertise at blogging and social media have made her one of the most recognised names in the tattoo game. Lauren currently has 205K followers on Instagram, with the likes of Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus banging on her door to get inked. This portrait is part of a larger series of named HighScrollers.


Peoples Choice

The people choice award is conducted by the visitors to the Museme of Sydney during the Head On photo festival. Thank you to every one who took the time to vote.

EAGLE HUNTERS – Palani Mohan

Madina aged 63 is a Kazakh eagle hunter and wears a fox skin coat as he cradles his 6-year-old eagle. In a landscape where temperatures plummet to -40 degrees, he is of the last men who use eagles to hunt on horseback bide. Rugged, formidable, proud, the golden eagles share the same qualities as the men with whom they ride. Only the toughest survive here, but this is a culture under threat. There are no more than 50-60 hunters left, each winter claiming a few more.


Landscape Prize



The Fallen. There’s a moment between life and death, sleeping and waking, that passes in an instant. For the briefest of moments one can see the beast at peace, calm and in a world that only he inhabits. All the chaos and trauma that went before is no longer bothersome; whilst vets regroup or hunters high five he waits patiently for life to start once more, or for some this is the end, and as I watch, the eye no longer is the gateway to the soul, but rather a reflection of the sky.



It was 5:30am and I had just arrived at my guesthouse in Varanasi and instinctively climbed the 7 flights of stairs to see the sunrise over the famous river Ganga. As I looked over the side of the rooftop terrace my jaw dropped in disbelief. Below were mothers, fathers, children, cats, dogs, monkeys all sleeping on the roofs. It was mid-summer in Varanasi and sleeping without AC was difficult. Can you spot the curry?


VANILLA SKY – Paul Hoelen

Mining access roads built through the salt pan lake of Lake Lefroy, south of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.


New South Wales Landscape Prize

This is an aqusitory prize for a photograph that has been taken in New South Wales, the print becomes part of the permanent NSW Parliament collection. 

Manly Beach – Ireneusz Luty


Mobile Prize


FreedomAko Salemi

A woman covered by a burqa passes by the Roze Sharif holy shrine in Mazar-e-Sharif, where white pigeons often congregate. The pigeon is the symbol of freedom in Afghanistan. 


Losing Independence Andrew Morgan

My grandfather, Albert, is forced to take a back seat ride home after a family dinner because he is no longer allowed to drive at night. He is an extremely independent 87 year old man, but the truth is that he cannot continue doing everything himself.  


VeilMarkus Andersen


Student Prize

The student prize is open to all primary and secondary school students (aged 6-18) who reside in Australia.

GIRL SEES ALL – Isabelle Sijan

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. 


STUNNED – Ana Burenkova

The water was colder than they thought it would be. I managed to capture the exact moment that they both realised they’d made a terrible mistake. 


FACADE – Pia Wylie

My artwork involves placing a physical object in the form of a mirror into the natural environment, blending and blurring the lines between reality and the reflection of reality via the manmade. I love the idea of allowing a photograph, something that is 2D to show multiple facades. I aim to evoke a sense of contemplation and allow the audience to create their own personal reflection through the complex and almost surreal image.

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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