The Australian Photography Awards
Student Top 10
Thanks for joining me, APA competition judge Matt Palmer, as I look at the winning Australian Photography Awards Student photograph of 2018 as well as looking at what made the rest of the top ten so successful. The student category spans photography entered into every other category by talented students, and the work is extremely varied. With the quality of work being produced by students, the Photography industry will be in good hands in the future!
Hold on tight because this top 10 is going to be a rollercoaster ride with no two images alike!
Winner: Mother Mary – Luke Fazekas
Mother Mary came oh so close to winning our Mobile Photography category. That such an astute observational photograph was captured by a student, and on a mobile phone, is really quite remarkable! Luke uses the mobile medium here to create an observational candid portrait where the presence of a larger camera might have spoiled the moment.
The composition is well thought out, the Mother Mary soaring above in a majestic piece of art that is possibly about 10-12 feet in height! The juxtaposition between this revered piece of artwork and the humble cleaning lady, with wardrobe similarities of her own, is a very cleverly seen and captured one. The rich blues of Mary’s outfit match that of the cleaning lady, and both wonderful ladies have their own form of veil. While this juxtaposition is the key ingredient that makes the photograph, the concept is given space to breathe within the composition where other details can give more hints as to the environment this lady works in, the Kazan Cathedral in Russia.
Everyone involved in the Australian Photography Awards is thrilled to have Luke Fazekas ‘Mother Mary’ represent the student category as its winner in 2018.
2nd Place: Divine Freak – April Brown
Divine Freak is a clever take on social media’s rules regarding female nudity. Social networks such as Facebook deem the female nipple as being against its community standards, which is a huge hindrance to many artists that capture the female form and use these networks. Using paint April covers the breast but leaves a mastectomy scar uncovered, questioning the competing rules for what is considered offensive to viewers. The judging panel appreciated April’s advanced concept and the honesty in which she captured the female form as the basis for her commentary piece.
3rd Place: Muscles Like Dad – Victoria Reid
Muscles like Dad captivated us within the Documentary category, earning Victoria an impressive top ten place. Her photo explores the influence of father on son and the development of the son’s identity. Despite not seeing the father’s face, we can sense a warmness from the way he is postured towards his son. The son basks in beautiful window light and Victoria has done well to capture this light in a domestic setting, and a bathroom at that! The boy’s bruises and scrapes give ideas as to his lifestyle, sense of play, but also the vulnerability of being a child.
4th: Abstract Landscape – Lily Martin
Lily’s abstract landscape has been captured with the precision, with the elements being perfectly balanced. The composition is very dynamic with strong lines and forms intersecting and encompassing the flock of organically shaped birds, a deliberate juxtaposition. My guess would be that this is a well-seen composition captured through the supports of a bridge, although it’s hard to be certain. What is evident, however, is strong photography with references to design. The composition couldn’t be more deliberate and stark had it been illustrated, and we can confirm it is all photographic!
5th: Jewelled Armour – James Dorey
Despite his status as a student, James is rapidly gaining a reputation within our (anonymously judged) competition as a technical magician. This capture of a cuckoo wasp rolling up into a tightly armoured ball to protect itself has incredible detail and vibrancy. James has lit the insect perfectly to bring out these incredible colours, and may have even used focus stacking to capture detail throughout the cuckoo wasp. The way the wasp has been presented, rolled up with wing extruding, shows an artistic way of presenting a very scientific style of photography.
6th: Victor – Rowan Marsh-Croft
This photograph by Rowan shows that great portraits can be taken in one’s own surroundings. Victor is Rowan’s roommate, and he’s captured here holding the only thing he will eat that day – a can of soup. There is something very raw and vulnerable about this portrait of Victor. Rowan puts him front and center with nowhere to hide, but captures an intangible feeling that only comes with familiarity with the subject.
Rowan composes the frame with thought, using a banal post, a plant, and some white paint on a mundane wall to frame this story of an Australian living close to the edge in our nation’s capital.
7th: Shapes Of Melbourne – Cameron Meacham
Cameron has presented this interior from a building in Melbourne immaculately. Despite having a feeling of smoothness, close inspection reveals subtle textures and gradients throughout, and we are led through the center through an onion skin of different architectural detail. Although it’s a detail that can divide judges, I find the decision to retain the join line in the top right to be a clever one. The single line can lead the viewer to think about construction and how these disparate pieces all fit together perfectly to form this interesting building.
8th: Girl With Woolly Hat – Miranda Kremers
Miranda had three great entries in the competition this year, and each of them caught the judges interest. Girl With A Wooly Hat stood out with its directness of the subject to the camera and the stunning way the girl’s features have been captured. The girl’s eyes are almost inescapable, as the viewer takes a quick detour to appreciate the fine detail of freckles and some whimsical butterfly earrings, only to be reeled back in. There is also a feeling of inner strength and determination captured in this fine portrait.
9th: Charlotte – Rowan Marsh-Croft
Another carefully considered portrait by Rowan that draws upon the people important to him in his life. This is raw lifestyle photography done exceptionally. The portrait has a nostalgic and cinematic feel that is contributed to by the colour palette, interior setting and dappling of light through curtains and windows. The window light teases the face of Charlotte, the subject, who is described as being one of the strongest and resilient people that Rowan knows. There is a calm beauty to this portrait and Rowan has done well to capture its allure.
10th: Nepenthe – Matthew Reilly
An incredible and surreal scene, Nepenthe means ‘that which chases away sorrow’ and is referred to in Greek literature as a fictional medicine for depression in a time before pharmaceuticals. It’s an ambitious theme and creation and Matthew manages to pull it off while leaving many questions unanswered for the viewer to interpret.
Although it’s clearly a constructed scene, each element has been captured well, from the long exposure shoreline landscape used in the foreground, to astrophotography skills used in the backdrop. There is also incredible detail in the figure left falling, whose hairstyling appears a cross between Elvis and Nick Cave. Who is this person? Could this be a self portrait? Beyond that Matthew has done well to create an ancestral planet, perhaps from a macro or even a particularly planetary looking artisan bread. It’s hard to say! It is a technical achievement however that shows an ability far beyond his status as a student. With no other explanation and a title that has inspired countless other cultural references, we could be examining this one for a while.
Thank you for joining me as I discuss our Australian Photography Awards Student Top 10. The judges and Australian Photography Awards team are so impressed with the quality of work being produced by students. Thank you for your entries this year and we look forward to seeing your work in future as you continue to realise your massive potentials.