Image credit: Gary Grealy – Richard Morecroft & Alison Mackay, 2017 National Portrait Photography Prize winner

This Friday we have an awesome free workshop on portraiture photography with three excellent but very different photographers.  We decided to have a chat with each of them and ask for just one piece of advice about how to go about making a great portrait. 

We spoke to Gary Grealy first.

Gary has had a long career as an advertising and portrait photographer. He has been commissioned by leading advertising agencies, major national and international clients. His work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia and the National Portrait Gallery. Gary has exhibited extensively across the county. He was a finalist in the National Photographic Portrait Prize for nine years: a highly commended runner-up in 2008.  In 2017, he won the Portrait Prize with his stunning portrait of TV personality Richard Morecroft and artist Alison Mackay (above).

Image credit: Gary Grealy – Edmond Capon

Gary’s illustrious reputation leaves him well placed to give advice on how to make an excellent portrait, yet he feels this is an extremely difficult ask because making portraits is very dependent on each individual’s personality. 

Gary outlined his own painstaking process of making a portrait. He starts with an initial meeting with his subject, from which he develops the concept of the image that he’s going to make – a process he likens to drawing the image beforehand. This research includes lighting diagrams and predetermined positions for all his equipment.  This forward planning ensures that on the day of shooting Gary and his subject can talk informally in a relaxed atmosphere.  For himself, his advice is simply

“Slow down”! 


How about you? Does this advice to take it slowly resonate with you, or are you more of a shoot from the hip sort of photographer? Stay tuned – we have more advice coming – and don’t forget to sign up for Friday’s workshop here.




Image credit: Gary Grealy – Brian and Gene Sherman


Head On Foundation (est. 2008) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting photographers' work at all career stages. We encourage excellence and innovation, make photography accessible to all, and raise awareness of important issues through the medium. The Foundation's main activities are Head On Photo Festival and Head On Awards (Portrait, Landscape, and Student photographic prizes) and an annual program of collaborative projects. Head On Foundation is a bridge between Australian and international photography markets. The festival has toured in the US, China, India, Europe, and New Zealand, introducing the global arts community to the wealth of photographic talent Australia possesses.

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Head On Photo Awards 2024

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Image detail: Gary Ramage