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To infinity! Beautiful 'Rocket Girl' lockdown portraits win Photographer of the Year

Rocket Girl Chronicles - Photographer of the year 2021 overall winner
Rocket Girl Chronicles (Image credit: Andy Rovenko / POTY AustralianPhotography)

The Photographer of the Year 2021 competition, presented by Nokia, has revealed this edition's winners. Now in its ninth year, the competition is one of the largest of its kind for amateur photographers, with a prize pool comprising over $30,000. 

A photo series featuring a young mini astronaut, Rocket Girl, exploring the locked down streets of Melbourne has been highly commended at this year's competition and awarded with the overall winning prize. 

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The annual competition hosted by Australian Photography (opens in new tab) is designed to challenge photographers when entering the major competition categories, shooting four cohesive images that work well in a series. This year's overall winner was Andy Rovenko, with his photo series titled 'The Rocket Girl Chronicles'.

Rocket Girl Chronicles (Image credit: Andy Rovenko / POTY AustralianPhotography)
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Photographer of the Year features five portfolio categories – Landscape, Animal & Nature, People, Aerial and Black & White – and four single-image categories – Photo of the Year, Creative, Mobile and Junior (specifically for young photographers under the age of 18). Rovenko was the winner of the People portfolio category, as well as snatching the overall competition win. 

Other winning photographers were Chandra Bong for Landscape, with a portfolio series titled 'Four peaks of Patagonia'. Winning the Animal & Nature category was Simone Matucci, with her underwater series titled 'Blackwater', and Junior Category winner Matthew Barrett won with his image titled 'Superboy' that depicts a man jumping into water in a superman pose.

Superboy (Image credit: Matthew Barrett / POTY AustralianPhotography)
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Nokia was a major sponsor of the competition, providing the overall winner with a new Nokia XR20 (opens in new tab) phone. Other prizes awarded from sponsors to category winners included everything from photo printers to photo monitors, as well as cash prizes of up to $2,000 (approximately £1,487 / AU$2,837). 

Four peaks of Patagonia (Image credit: Chandra Bong / POTY AustralianPhotography)
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Competition judge Tim Levy finds that it becomes more difficult each year to judge the submitted entries and boil down to the final shortlisted photographs. "There are so many great images captured by amateur photographers entered in the competition each year, it also shows the importance of planning and taking your camera with you wherever you go – you never know when the stars will align and you will get an exceptional image."

Blackwater (Image credit: Simone Matucci / POTY AustralianPhotography)
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Photographer of the Year 2022 (opens in new tab) will open for entries again on 30 May 2022, and is strictly for amateur photographers that are residents of Australia and New Zealand.

Amateur photographers are defined by the competition Ts and Cs (opens in new tab) as "someone who has not completed their final year of study in a tertiary-level, multi-year photography qualification, and who has not earned more than $5,000 from photography (including videography) in any 12-month period in the previous five years, dating from the time of entry".

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.