Indigenous Photographer Wins National Portrait Award for Silent Strength Image


The 2022 National Portrait Photographic Award went to Indigenous photographer Wayne Quilliam. His striking image silent strength depicts Eric Yunkaporta, an Aboriginal man from Aurukun, Australia, wearing ceremonial headgear and traditional body paint.

Quilliam received a cash prize of $30,000 donated by the National Portrait Gallery, as well as $20,000 worth of Canon imaging equipment thanks to Imaging Partner Canon Australia. He is considered one of the leading photographers and curators of Indigenous peoples and has spent his life documenting their world. Because of his love for these people, Quilliam has announced that he will donate more than half of his winnings to Indigenous 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 like a trickle of water melting into a small stream and then into the ocean. This image of Eric Yunkaporta from Aurukun is Culture”.

National Photographic Portrait Award 2022

(Image credit: Wayne Quilliam – 2022 National Portrait Photography Award)

This year’s competition was judged by award-winning press photographers Nick Moir and Sandra Bruce alongside the National Portrait Gallery’s Director of Collections and Exhibitions and Associate Curator Rebecca Ray, who all said the portrait of Quilliam was 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.

Australian photojournalist Adam Fergerson won the highly praised award for a photo in his ongoing series Migrantes. The portrait shows Guatemalan migrant Carlos Soyos with his eight-year-old son as they take refuge at the US-Mexico border. Fergerson recently received Sony World Photographer of the Year for the series in which he let migrants take their own portraits (opens in a new tab).

From June 25 to October 9, the National Portrait Photographic Award exhibition will be open to the public with tickets starting at just $10. In total, over 2,400 images have been reduced to only 50 that can be viewed here (opens in a new tab).

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