2015 National Photographic Portrait Prize

NPP2015_Portrait of Ali by Hoda AfsharNow in its eighth year, the National Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition is selected from a national field of entries, reflecting the distinctive vision of Australia’s aspiring and professional portrait photographers and the unique nature of their subjects.

This year, the National Portrait Gallery received a record 2,500 entries, with Judges Dr Christopher Chapman – Senior Curator, Angus Trumble – NPG Director, and photographer Nikki Toole selecting 44 exhibition finalist portraits. The winner receives $25,000.

While many images showed insight, drama or sensitivity, those that really made us pause conveyed something more. Many of the photographic images selected for the exhibition revealed to us something surprising about their subject – we could strongly sense their candour, or trepidation, as they revealed a glimpse of their inner self.

All of the exhibition portraits are defined by clarity and a strong or subtle visual composition either in balance or in tension. The creation of these photographic portraits – tender, haunting, atmospheric, and honest – is the result of the photographer’s eye.

The 2015 National Photographic Portrait Prize was awarded to Hoda Afshar for her Portrait of Ali, while Katherine Williams’ Barry & Alkirra – The House in Carrington was highly commended.

National Portrait Gallery Senior Curator Dr Christopher Chapman said Hoda Afshar’s portrait was a unanimous choice for the judging panel. “The portrait is poignant for its intimation of this boy’s future – likely as a shepherd. The photographer has captured a powerful sense of mystery that adds to the compelling nature of the portrait – the boy, standing calmly within the rocky, misty setting.”

Hoda Afshar said the Portrait of Ali is a part of a series I made last year titled The smell of Narenj. I was trying to capture the Iran that I know, the place that I once used to call home.

“My intention was to capture the stories of real people, not what is represented in the media and what everyone knows about Iran,” said Afshar. “Something that I know hasn’t been shown or captured before. I can never stop making work about it. I love to keep going back and making, adding more images to the series, and familiarise myself again with the place I was born.”

All 44 finalists are now on show at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra. Visitors have the opportunity to vote for their favourite portrait in the People’s Choice Award. Voting closes on Monday 8 June, with the winner to be announced on Monday 15 June 2015.

National Photographic Portrait Prize
National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace, Parkes (Canberra)
Exhibition continues to 8 June 2015
Free entry

The National Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition will also travel throughout north-east Australia in 2015 – 2016, visiting: Mackay, Cairns, Bundaberg and Rockhampton. For more information, visit: www.portrait.gov.au for details.

Image: Hoda Afshar, Portrait of Ali, 2014