NSW-based photographer, Scott Portelli, has won this year’s Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition.

“Leafy Night” by Scott Portelli, a photograph of a Leafy Seadragon camouflaged in the shallow reefs of the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia has won the 2021 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition. © Scott Portelli.

Scott Portelli has been a photographer for over 20 years. The image was captured during a six-week sojourn at a small campground on the Fleurieu Peninsula, imposed as a result of a COVID-19 lockdown. During that time, Portelli had the opportunity to dive regularly, becoming familiar with the terrain, getting to know the dive site and spotting a few individual Seadragons.  “I became acquainted with the resident dragons of Second Valley,” he said, “and this is how I managed to get the shot.”

As Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year, he receives a cash prize of $10,000 and a Coral Expeditions holiday.

The 2021 competition judges were:
– Narelle Autio – international award-winning outback and coastal photographer.
– Trent Parke – internationally acclaimed photographer and the first Australian member of the prestigious Magnum photographic agency, and
– Stavros Pippos – celebrated South Australian landscape photographer.

The winners and runners-up of the ten categories have also been announced.
Animal Portrait:
Winner: A White-capped at Sunset, Doug Gimesy (VIC)
Runner-up: Howling at the Moon, Mike George (NSW)
Animal Behaviour:
Winner: Next Generation, Tammy Gibbs (WA)
Runner-up: Dreaming, Franco Tulli (Italy)
Animal Habitat:
Winner: A Tree Dreaming, Christian Spencer (VIC)
Runner-up: Stilted Reflections, Georgina Steytler (WA)
Winner: Ghost Mushrooms, Callie Chee (NSW)
Runner-up: Swamp Secrets, Paula McManus (SA)
Winner: Forest on Reflection, Hayden Cannon (WA)
Runner-up: Beneath the Surface, Ashlee Karas (WA)
Winner: Incoming, Jeff Freestone (VIC)
Runner-up: King of the Cape, Matt Wright (QLD)
Junior (photographers under 18 years of age):
Winner: You Can’t See Me, Georgia McGregor (QLD)
Runner-up: Cockatoo, Aidan Cimarosti (NSW)
Our Impact (depicting human impact on nature):
Winner: Bound, jammed inside, and posted, Doug Gimesy (VIC)
Runner-up: Single-use Drifter, Justin Gilligan, (NSW)
Threatened Species (threatened, rare, vulnerable or endangered species):
Winner: Declining Species, Scott Portelli (NSW)
Runner-up: In the Shadows, Tom Svensson, Sweden
Portfolio Prize (best portfolio of six or more images):
Tim Wrate (NSW).

The South Australian Museum will display a public exhibition featuring all finalists from Friday 27 August until Sunday 31 October. The Australian Museum in Sydney will also host the exhibition from October 2021 until January 2022. Click here for more information and to view the online gallery.