The National Portrait Gallery has announced the winners of this year’s National Photographic Portrait Prize for which the theme was ‘Living Memory’.

‘Drought story’, the winning portrait of David Kalisch captured in the midst of an unexpected dust storm on his 1000-acre farm in Forbes, NSW. © Joel B. Pratley.

Sydney photographer Joel B. Pratley’s photo of a lone farmer immersed in a dust storm in drought-stricken on his 1000-acre farm in Forbes, NSW, has won the prestigious award, which was judged by Nick Mitzevich (National Gallery of Australia Director), Karen Quinlan AM (NPG Director) and renowned Australian photographer Bill Henson. Pratley said his subject’s stance reflects the resilience of a man pushed to the limits by an unforgiving climate.  “David’s composure during the storm was surreal, because he is just so used to it.  For me, it was like being on Mars.”  He will take home $50,000 in prizes, including $30,000 in cash from the NPG and the latest photographic equipment from Canon, valued at $20,000.

‘Tom at the drain’, © Julian Kingma.

Winner of the 2021 Highly Commended prize was awarded to Bells Beach photographer Julian Kingma for his monochrome portrait (shown above) of young swimmer Tom cooling off in a storm-water drain during the 2020 Victorian lockdowns.  Judges noted that the work, titled Tom at the drain had a “beauty, stillness and calm about it. His prize is an EIZO Colour Edge CG2730 monitor valued at $4,000.

The announcement took place at 11am today at the National Portrait Gallery and was also live-stream so finalists unable to travel to Canberra due to COVID-related travel restrictions could watch the announcement from home. This year the NPPP judges, selected 79 works, more than double the usual amount – as a way of acknowledging the impact the pandemic has had on the creative community.   Further prizes will be announced at a later date, including the Art Handlers Award, fetching the winner $2,000 thanks to IAS Fine Art Logistics, and the $5000 People’s Choice Award, supported by the David Roche Foundation.  Audiences can vote for their favourites via this website.