Shea Kirk wins National Photographic Portrait Prize 2023

NPG-Shea-Kirk-with-his-work-Ruby-(left-View)The National Portrait Gallery has announced Shea Kirk as the winner of the National Photographic Portrait Prize 2023 for his portrait, Ruby (left view).

A fourth-time finalist, Kirk’s portrait of friend and fellow artist, Emma Armstrong-Porter, is half of a stereoscopic pair from his ongoing series, Vantages.

“I’ve always struggled with the size of my body from being extremely underweight to now being overweight,” said Emma Armstrong-Porter. “Over the past few years working with other photographers, making portraits, I’ve been processing my feelings about the transformation and how my body fits within society.”

“I’ve begun to reclaim my skin, by designing symbols about my life so far that I’ve been getting tattooed. I’m starting to feel more at home in my big queer body,” said Armstrong-Porter

Kirk takes home $30,000 cash from the National Portrait Gallery and $20,000 worth of Canon equipment thanks to Imaging Partner Canon Australia.

In making their decision, the judging panel said the work was a celebration of photography. “While Shea makes the portrait look effortless, this is a masterful and technically complex work where the sitter has no self-consciousness. It is as if the artist and sitter are participating equally in the transaction.”

The judges, National Portrait Gallery Senior Curator Joanna Gilmour, Daniel Boetker-Smith, Director of the Centre for Contemporary Photography, and critically acclaimed photo media artist Tamara Dean, selected 47 finalists from a pool of more than 2,300 entries

Renae Saxby was awarded the Highly Commended prize, for her work Bangardidjan, 2022, while the Art Handlers’ Award went to David Cossini for his work, Ugandan Ssebabi, 2022. The People’s Choice Award will be announced in September.

“The NPPP is a beloved and important national prize that supports the Australian photographic community and enlarges our collective experience of the Australian people, from the well-known and celebrated, to local heroes and identities,” said National Portrait Gallery Director, Bree Pickering.

Established by the National Portrait Gallery to support and celebrate photographic portraiture in Australia, the National Photographic Portrait Prize (NPPP) was first awarded in 2007 and has since become a highlight of the National Portrait Gallery’s annual calendar,

Attracting thousands of entries each year, the NPPP reflects the distinctive vision of Australia’s aspiring and professional photographers and the unique nature of their subjects.

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2023
National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace, Canberra
Exhibition continues to 2 October 2023
Entry fees apply

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Shea Kirk with his winning portrait of Ruby (left view) – courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery