‘Silent Force’ Portrait Wins $50,000 National Photographic Portrait Award

The portrait of Wayne Quilliam Silent Force 2021depicting Aurukun man Eric Yunkaporta wearing ceremonial headgear, won the 2022 National Portrait Photography Award (NPPP).

Wayne Quilliam, Silent Force 2021.

Quilliam is a leading Indigenous photographer, curator and cultural advisor and describes the portrait as a capture of Mother Earth.

“In its purest essence, the evolution of culture connects us to Mother Earth. My role as a storyteller continues to evolve and this capture is like a trickle of water melting into a small stream and then into the ocean. This image of Eric Yunkaporta from Aurukun is Culture”.

In reaching their decision, the jury – made up of award-winning press photographer Nick Moir and Sandra Bruce, National Portrait Gallery’s Director of Collections and Exhibitions and Associate Curator Rebecca Ray – declared Quilliam’s portrait to be a work of immense power and beauty. .

“Everything in this portrait is exceptional. The composition, the contrast, the richness of color in the ochres and feathers, as well as the sense of pride the subject represents – all of these layers and details have such power to connect the subject and its story with the audience.

Quilliam takes home $50,000 in prizes: $30,000 in National Portrait Gallery cash and $20,000 in Canon equipment, and announced that he will donate more than half of it to the Aboriginal community.

Additionally, New York photographer Adam Ferguson, born in New South Wales, won the Highly Commended award for his portrait of Guatemalan migrant Carlos Soyos and his eight-year-old son Enderson, taken from the border migrant shelter. between Mexico and the United States. The image was part of a series also recognized at this year’s Sony World Photo Awards, capping a stellar year for the photographer.

Adam Ferguson, Carlos Soyos, 34, a migrant from Guatemala City, Guatemala and his son, Enderson Soyos, 8, take a se by Adam Ferguson
Carlos Soyos, 34, a migrant from Guatemala City, Guatemala and his son, Enderson Soyos, 8. Image: Adam Ferguson.

Ferguson describes the work as the self-portrait of the subject.

“I mounted a medium format camera on a tripod with a cable release and then moved back, allowing migrants to choose when to capture. Through a collaborative process, I attempted to give migrants an agency in their own representation and history,” he said.

The judges described the portrait as a striking example of the extraordinary work Australian photographers are doing around the world, with Ferguson’s image capturing a moment of calm between two people in extremely difficult circumstances.

“The gesture of allowing the subject to choose the moment gives the image an emotional power – a moment of respite between a father and his son, all the more significant since one of the subjects was able to collaborate by pulling the trigger “,

Sandra Bruce said this year’s NPPP never fails to deliver a range of emotions. “Australia is a country with myriad faces, and as we continue to live in disruptive times, this year’s National Portrait Photography Award offers a panoramic view of the nation’s experience, reminding us that our lives continue regardless of the larger circumstances.”

The NPPP is on display at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, until Sunday 9 October 2022. More info here.

Michael E. Marquez