Family photo wins Head On Portrait Prize

The four winners of the prestigious Head On Photo Awards were announced on Friday at the festival opening in Paddington, with Brazilian-based partners Sávio Freire and Irmina Walczak, winning the crowd favourite Portrait Prize for their photo, Mama.

Head On Portrait Prize winning photo, Mama, by Sávio Freire and Irmina Walczak

The image is a captivating family portrait taken after the birth of Sávio and Irmina’s son, their second child.

‘This photo is a portrait of us in the early days of the arrival of our son. It represents time in which each of us was searching and reviewing its place in this new organism called family,’ Sávio and Irmina’s statement says. ‘This picture is about being mother of two and becoming an octopus in order to supply physical and psychological needs of your offspring. It is also about being father of two and feeling unable and distant. Finally, it is about being the older child and losing the lap as well as pleading for attention.’

The couple added that the win is significant, as it recognises the value of simple family moments in contemporary photography.

‘This first place is very significant for us not only because of the importance of this festival but also because of the awarded photo which was taken in a very spontaneous way, in the afternoon like many others, minutes after bath and represents so many other registers of the family life,’ they wrote on Instagram. ‘We are very glad that not only wars, disasters or exotic places gain recognition in the contemporary photography scene but also daily, simple moments so common to all of us.’

The photo is part of Retratos pra Yayá, a personal photo book documenting family life by Sávio, a Brazilian national, and Irmina, a Polish migrant who has lived in Brazil since 2007.

Fujifilm sponsored the award, with national account manager Kevin Cooper announcing the winners in front of thousands of attendees at the Head On opening at UNSW Art & Design.

The Landscape Prize, presented by Olympus, was awarded to Spanish photographer, Roger Grasas, for his photo Giza Pyramids.

Head On Landscape Landscape Prize winning photo, Giza Pyramids, by Roger Grasas.

‘View of the pyramids and the Sphinx of Giza (Egypt) from the dining room of a well-known American restaurant of pizzas and fast food,’ Roger’s statement says.

Myanmar photographer, Zay Yar Lin, won the Mobile Prize for Life In Colour, an aerial shot of a seafarer sweeping the bright red deck of his ship as waves hammer below.

Life in Colour, by Zay Yar Lin.

Hi Yin Chin won the Student Award, presented by Sony, for Levitation – an image taken during a mountain hike.

Hi Yin Chan’s winning photo, Levitation.

New $10,000 grant contest
Head On also announced a new $10,000 grant initiative open for submissions until June 11. Stories of NSW, in partnership with the NSW Government, will fund a project that records contemporary life in NSW.

The winner’s complete project will be acquired and exhibited at the State Library of NSW during the 2019 Head On Photo Festival.

The award is open to NSW artists with an idea or work in progress, which must fall under the category of fine art photography, photojournalism, or documentary photography – telling the stories of NSW. A team of industry professionals, photographers and curators will review the submissions in consultation with the Minister’s office to select the award recipient.

‘The diverse and vibrant communities of NSW set the ideal platform for visual storytelling. “Stories of NSW” is a wonderful theme that gives photographers wide scope to depict contemporary life in NSW. I look forward to announcing the inaugural winner next year and exhibiting their work as we celebrate the Festival’s tenth anniversary,’ said NSW Minister for the Art, Don Harwin.

The Awards received over 5000 submissions, and upwards of $60,000 of prizes were up for grabs.

All Head On Awards finalist images are showing in exhibitions across Sydney for the duration of the festival.

Portrait, Mobile, and Student can be viewed at the Festival Hub at Paddington Town Hall. Landscape is on show at NSW Parliament House.

Here’s other winning images…

Portrait prize second place. Silence by Hubert Czajkowski.

Portrait prize third place. Portrait at One Hundred by Susan Copen Oken.


Landscape prize second place. Notts Country Football Ground by Simon Harsent.

Landscape Prize third place. Midland, by Al Wildey. This photo is a composite of 100 photos.

Mobile Prize second place. Deja Vu, by Lauren Elise Barlow.

Mobile Prize third place. Untitled, by John Platt.


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