National Photographic Portrait Prize, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra



I was really pleased to find out from Facebook that my cousin Katie Bennett had been chosen as a finalist for this Prize. Here  is an interview with her.  I’ve never met Katie, although I’ve heard a lot about her – she’s the professional in the family. I think her image of ‘Granny’s 90th’  was really good in capturing the ladies’ natural vitality at a moment when they were ‘waiting’ to be photographed.

I don’t think I would have linked into this Gallery and prize otherwise, so it’s been interesting for me to have a look at all the finalists. There aren’t any names I recognise although I’m sure some must be very well known in Australia. I still can’t get my head around how the judges can choose from such a variety of images – all deemed ‘portraits’. There’s a whole array of different styles and approaches and it looks to me as if most of the finalists are one-offs which would make it different from Taylor Wessing.

After recent discussions on the OCA student site re portraits I was pleased to see that, in a way, the winner ‘Yhonnie and Indiana”  is a portrait of a cat! I think it’s a good use of light and am still trying to work out whether this is natural shadow or achieved by a gobo.  “Judy”  by Sally Robinson reminded me of the work that John and Yiann are doing regarding dementia, particularly  John’s work with the Echoes group. In the OCA Thames Valley Group we had quite a discussion with Sharon Boothroyd regarding issues involved in photographing children and I think that Rewa Nolan’s “Bird’s Nests”   is a very good example of the way in which childhood moments can be portrayed both artistically and naturally. The other image I found appealing was “The Veteran”    by Vitek Skonieczny – the style is reminiscent of Saul Leiter; the shadowy and dim light evokes for me a sense of twilight years.

I enjoyed the look-through.  Well-done again Katie and I hope you’ll be entering the 2014 Prize.


21st March 2013




7 thoughts on “National Photographic Portrait Prize, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra

  1. thanks for the post Catherine….congrats to your cousin. It’s a great portrait…. like you I am left wondering why certain pictures are deemed better than others….I think that the winner was more than just a portrait of a cat….the poor thing is/was 19 years old and the owner is there too….he he……not sure what you mean about the lighting on this one. It looks like window lighting from the front and right….

    • Yes – I was joking slightly here but the cat is very distinctive and eyes go straight to him. Re the lighting – I just wasn’t sure because it looked quite hard and the shadows too geometric and edged and, to me, that seemed more akin to a gobo. Still, as you know I’m a novice re lighting!

  2. I think it’s all in the genes! Portrait competitions are as random as any other photo competition. Don’t try to understand the result, just be happy for the winners and losers (or should I say the un-winners)

  3. Catherine, congrats to your cousin. Well deserved; I loved granny’s 90th. It’s a lovely and evocative image. I am so pleased to learn about this link; Some of the images were really quite fascinating.I liked ‘Yhonnie and Indiana’ a lot. It’s actually quite poignant. (I am a cat lover so I can relate). Besides the images you mentioned, I also liked the portrait “Morsecoder”. I love the way there is a little blurb giving context for each image. It makes it a much more enjoyable experience viewing.

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