$50,000 National Photographic Portrait Prize winner announced

A portrait by Wayne Quilliam, Silent Strength 2021, has won the 2022 National Photographic Portrait Prize (NPPP). The image depicts Aurukun man Eric Yunkaporta in ceremonial head-wear.

Wayne Quilliam, Silent Strength 2021.
© Wayne Quilliam. Silent Strength 2021.

A leading Indigenous photographic artist, curator, and cultural advisor, Quilliam describes the portrait as like capturing Mother Earth. “In its purest essence, the evolution of culture connects us to Mother Earth. My role as a storyteller continues to evolve and this capture is akin to a trickle of water merging into a small stream then into the ocean. This image of Eric Yunkaporta from Aurukun is Culture”.

The judging panel was made up of award-winning press photographer Nick Moir together with Sandra Bruce, the National Portrait Gallery’s Director of Collection and Exhibitions, and Associate Curator Rebecca Ray. In making their decision, they said that Quilliam’s portrait was a work of immense power and beauty.

“Everything about this portrait is exceptional. The composition, the contrast, the richness of the colours in the ochres and feathers, and also the sense of pride the subject is portraying – all of these layers and details carry such power in connecting the subject and his story with the audience.”

Quilliam's $50,000 prize includes $30,000 cash from the National Portrait Gallery and $20,000 worth of Canon equipment. He has stated that he will gift more than half back to the Indigenous community.

Australian, New York-based photographer Adam Ferguson has won the Highly Commended prize for his portrait of Guatemalan migrant Carlos Soyos and his eight-year-old son, Enderson. The image was at the migrant shelter on the Mexican/United States border. It's one of a series also recognised in this year's Sony World Photo Awards.

Adam Ferguson, Carlos Soyos, 34, a migrant from Guatemala City, Guatemala and his son, Enderson Soyos, 8, take a se by Adam Ferguson
© Adam Ferguson. Carlos Soyos, 34, a migrant from Guatemala City, Guatemala
and his son, Enderson Soyos, 8.

Ferguson describes the work as the subject’s own self-portrait. “I mounted a medium-format camera onto a tripod with a cable release and then stepped back, allowing the migrants to choose the moment of capture. Through a collaborative process I attempted to give the migrants agency in their own representation and story,” he said.

The judges described the portrait as a striking example of the extraordinary work Australian photographers are doing around the world, with Ferguson’s image capturing a quiet moment of calm between two people in extremely difficult circumstances.

“The gesture of allowing the subject to choose the moment gives the image emotional power – a moment of respite between a father and son, made even more meaningful considering one of the subjects was able to collaborate by pressing the trigger,”

The NPPP is on display at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, until Sunday, 9 October 2022. Head to their website for more infomation

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