You did what now?

Photographically speaking, I am not a people person. I can take photos of people, after all I studied every aspect of photography while I was doing my Bachelor degree, but I choose not to. People photography just doesn't do it for me; I am a landscape photographer through and through.

So, what is this portrait prize thing all about then, huh?

I have been aware of the National Photographic Portrait Prize (NPPP) since one of my tutors, Hoda Afshar, won it in 2015. In 2019, another tutor of mine, Alana Holmberg, won it. I must have Googled the prize at least once as, social media targeted advertising being what it is, I have been reminded each year that the prize is again up for grabs.

This year the theme of the prize caught my attention: Living Memory: 2020 A Year Like No Other.

For weeks, it could've been months, I couldn't stop thinking about it, and slowly an idea for an image began to form. Right down to the last days of the entry period, I procrastinated. Eventually I came to the conclusion that if I couldn't shake the idea, then I should make it happen. So I did.

As I hit the submit button, I didn't hold any hope that I would be successful, in fact that wasn't the point of entering for me. I was simply happy that I had actually turned my idea into reality.

I subsequently forgot all about my entry. Life had many ups and downs for me to go through in the interim. Then, on day two of starting a brand new job, I noticed there was a voicemail waiting on my phone. I hit play and was absolutely stunned to hear that I had been selected as a finalist for the 2021 NPPP. I was so shocked I hung up halfway through the message!

When I entered the NPPP, I was so confident of not getting anywhere, I didn’t make any editing decisions based on the image ever being printed. Printing any image properly is a fraught exercise, let alone when you hadn’t planned to print it in the first place, and it is going to be hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, ACT!

Printing can be fraught!

I needed help and there was only one person I wanted to call: the print master himself, Peter Hatzipavlis from The Print Shop at Photography Studies College Melbourne. Peter is an exceptional printer and he has worked with so many amazing photographers, even a previous NPPP winner. He has printed works for the likes of R.O.N.E., Hoda Ashfar and many, many PSC students, including me!

I hastily fired off an email and was relieved when Peter replied saying he'd help me.

We began the process by assessing the image to decide what needed to be worked on to make it translate to a large print. A bit lighter here, a little bit more colour there. Small test prints followed, then finally, at the third meeting, a few test strips at 1:1 to see how the main parts of the image looked at 80 x 60cms. From what I could see, it was going to look great ... and it does.

The day I was to pick the print up to take it to the framers it was raining ... a lot. The weather gods must've have taken pity on me and the rain stopped for just long enough to pick up the print and get it to the framers. Soon after the deluge began again. The framers I chose are Fini Frames in Cremorne, run by the wonderful Yuho Imura. From the minute you start talking options, Yuho puts you at ease. She immediately understood what look I was going for and within 10 minutes all the decisions were made.

Luckily the day I picked up the framed portrait it wasn't raining! It is now winging its way to Canberra with IAS Fine Art Logistics Pty Ltd. The next time I get to see it, it will be hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra!

The announcement of the National Photographic Portrait Prize 2021 winner took place via live stream in Canberra on 30 July 2021. I didn't win this one either, but I am beyond thrilled to have been a finalist and to have my portrait hanging in the National Portrait Gallery. Maybe I will get to see it in person one day!