The National Photographic Portrait Prize 2022 has been awarded to aboriginal photographer Wayne Quilliam. His striking image Silent Strength depicts Eric Yunkaporta, an Aboriginal from Aurukun, Australia wearing ceremonial headwear and traditional body paint.
Quilliam has been awarded a $30,000 cash prize donated by the National Portrait Gallery, plus $20,000 worth of Canon imaging equipment thanks to Imaging Partner Canon Australia. He is regarded as one of the leading photographers and curators of indigenous people and has spent a lifetime documenting their world. Due to his love for these people, Quilliam has announced that he will be gifting back more than half of his winnings to Aboriginal communities.
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Reflecting on his work, Quilliam said, “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 akin to a trickle of water merging into a small stream and then into the ocean. This image of Eric Yunkaporta from Aurukun is Culture”.
This year's competition was judged by award-winning press photographers Nick Moir and Sandra Bruce alongside The National Portrait Gallery’s director of collection and exhibitions and associate curator Rebecca Ray who all said that Quilliam's portrait was a work of immense power and beauty.
“Everything about this portrait is exceptional. The composition, the contrast, the richness of the colors in the ochres and feathers, and also the sense of pride the subject is portraying – all of these layers and details carry such power in connecting the subject and his story with the audience.”
Australian photo-journalist Adam Fergerson won the highly commended award for a photo from his ongoing series Migrantes. The portrait shows Guatemalan migrant Carlos Soyos with his eight-year-old son as they take shelter at the US/Mexico border. Fergerson was recently awarded the Sony World Photographer of the Year for the series in which he let the migrants take their own portraits.
From 25 June until 9 October, the National Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition will be open to the public with tickets starting at just $10. In total, more than 2,400 images were whittled down to just 50 which can be viewed here.