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Australia Rob Palmer's portrait depicting a chef's passion wins $50,000 national photographic prize

06:30  17 march  2020
06:30  17 march  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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The Sydney photographer's efforts to capture a chef's passion for his work won him the $50,000 prize, which National Portrait Gallery director Karen Quinlan announced online instead of in front of the expected crowd of finalists and guests.

Palmer shot the portrait of chef Josh Niland with a dolphinfish last year, and it was one of about 2,500 submissions to the lucrative annual competition.

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The National Photographic Portrait Prize is an annual portraiture competition held at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, Australia.

The National Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition is selected from a national field of entries, reflecting the distinctive vision of Australia' s aspiring and professional portrait photographers and the unique nature of their subjects. The National Portrait Gallery would like to congratulate the finalists

He said he had struck luck with the image's composition — he was trying to capture Niland in his element and it proved relatively simple.

"You enter these amazing competitions — and I don't enter them very often — and you don't ever expect to win them," Palmer said.

"There are times you've got to fight to get an image, you need to craft it, you need to think about what's going to go on and work very hard at it.

"But there are images like this which just sort of present themselves."

He said his aim was to convey the chef's passion for working with the whole fish, from fin to tail.

"Zero waste is his big thing — using every part of the fish — and this what really inspired the image."

Palmer had been working with Niland on a cookbook for more than a week before the right moment presented itself.

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The Doug Moran National Portrait Prize is an annual Australian portrait prize founded by Doug Moran in 1988, the year of Australia' s Bicentenary. It is the richest portrait prize in the world with A0, 000 awarded to the winner.

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"Josh pulled out this massive mahi-mahi [dolphinfish]… He just has so much respect for the food and the fish he works with," Palmer said.

"It's just this almost intimate moment between him and his fish."

The judges praised Palmer's finesse; one of them, Nici Cumpston, said the work embodied "the feeling that the chef has for the fish".

Meanwhile, Hugh Stewart's portrait of 105-year-old dancer Eileen Kramer was highly commended among the 47 finalists that are on display at the gallery.

And, although the exhibition's official launch was cancelled, the National Portrait Gallery is one of several galleries and museums in Canberra that have chosen to remain open to the public.

The photographic portraits will be on display until May before travelling to other venues around the country

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