Every year, Australia’s most auspicious journalism awards are handed out by the Walkley Foundation. It’s a shame that there can be only one winner each year in the photojournalism category, because every nominee and image tell incredible, beautiful and movie stories. Here are our favourites from this year.
Image: Sylvia Liber
Over 2500 images were entered into the 2015 Nikon-Walkley Photojournalism Award category, and the competition is tough: only three finalists are nominated, and then one of those is chosen as the winner.
The Walkley Foundation explains the significance of great photojournalism in Australia:
Some of these images are the work of a split second. Others took months of research and trust-building. Photographers interact with their subjects with perhaps more intimacy than storytellers in any other medium, and the tales they tell can move you with a single frame.
Gary Ramage: “Ice Nation”
Gary Ramage captures the force and the personnel needed to restrain just one ice addict to facilitate his treatment. Criss-crossing the country over four weeks, Ramage gained extraordinary access to the facilities and people on the front line of Australia’s ice crisis. He was inside the Emergency Department at the Royal Perth Hospital when three police auxiliaries arrived with ‘Bill’, late 20s, locked in the back of a paddy wagon. Twelve staff –doctors, nurses and security guards as well as the auxiliaries – were standing by when the van door was unlocked and a screaming, spitting Bill burst out.
Bill is HIV-positive, hence the protective masks worn by all the staff in the treatment room. Even with his feet chained and both hands handcuffed to the trolley, he was trying to spit. One of the guards had to slam his elbow into Bill’s head to hold him still so he could be injected with essential sedatives and antipsychotic medications.
The judges considered Ramage’s photo captured the pathos of one of Australia’s most significant social problems – a horror that affects people across all ages, regions and income levels. While the image is dramatic, Ramage’s approach is highly ethical, as he treats all his subjects with respect and empathy, never stigmatising the addict.
Nic Walker: “Adam Houda: See You In Court”
Nic Walker’s cinematic portrait of Adam Houda, a prominent Sydney criminal lawyer who has represented (Sydney siege gunman) Man Haron Monis and other high profile defendants, is both surprisingly beautiful and highly intelligent in its design. Photographing Houda in one of his beloved vintage cars at dusk in Surry Hills, Walker gives his subject an allure that is slightly cold, tough, and a bit mysterious.
“When I was doing a headshot of him at the Fairfax Studios for the cover of a Good Weekend story he told me he had a selection of old American muscle cars. After he started showing me examples of these on his iPhone I suggested we use one of these cars to frame him for a portrait. The car featured in this pic is a 1950 gunmetal grey Chevy. I was quite pleased with the result which I thought captured the mood and suited Adam and his personality.”
Adam Taylor: Melbourne Cup Of The Outback
And they’re off
The home straight.
Spending a day at the Birdsville races, Adam Taylor captured the cultural phenomenon dubbed the “Melbourne Cup of the Outback” with beautiful photos that not only tell a colourful story but also give a unique perspective on an iconic Australian event.
Brett Costello: Sporting Frontiers
Riding High: Racehorses in training for the Autumn Carnival swimming in the stillness of dawn against a backdrop of planes at Sydney Airport.
Shark Break: “NRL player Valentine Holmes in full flight was an image I had been trying to get for a while. At the right time in the afternoon the light reflects off the windows from the grandstand behind, helping to create a striking moment of action.”
Brett Costello constantly changes the tempo, providing viewers with different perspectives on sport. From contrasting images of thoroughbreds in the water as jumbo jets glide through the red dawn across Botany Bay, to footballers thrashing it out on the field under torrential rain, his work demonstrates skill, emotion and the challenges of sport photography.
Phil Hillyard: One Moment In Time
Fanning Legend: Australian surfer Mick Fanning shows his style during round two of the Australian Open of Surfing at Manly Beach.
Smoking Hot Klemmer: The Canterbury Bulldogs Rugby League player David Klemmer lets off some steam during Monday night football at Belmore Sports Ground
Phil Hillyard’s skill lies in mixing the ordinary with the extraordinary and capturing the headline-making moments in sport. His body of work is a picture book of emotion and the events that had the nation talking, such as Phillip Hughes’ fatal injury on the cricket pitch.
Rob Griffith: Sydney Lindt Cafe Siege
Into the Arms of Safety: Jieun ”April” Bae, a staff member at the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place, Sydney, runs into the arms of tactical police after escaping the hostage situation.
The escape lasted only seconds, but the photo made headlines around the world. Rob Griffith’s image of Jieun “April” Bae’s flight to freedom from a gun-wielding Man Haron Monis captures not only the moment her terror shifted to relief but the stress of that day in December.
Toby Zerna: “Martin Place Siege”
Sydney’s Heart: A solitary office worker walking down the stairs at Martin Place, juxtaposing the everyday nature of city life with the horrific moment that silenced and stopped the city.
There were many photos of Sydney’s spontaneous memorial to the victims, but Zerna’s single image beautifully captures the magnitude of the city’s collective grief in the days following the Martin Place siege.
Ingetje Tadros: Kennedy Hill
Unaware of the problems
In her gritty and powerful body of work, Tadros presents an insider’s view of the struggles faced by remote Aboriginal communities undergoing the hardships that stem from dislocation.Tadros’s photos demonstrate both the community trust she earned and her empathy for individuals living far from the public eye.
Nic Walker: Rite Of Passage
Schoolies playing in puddles during a torrential downpour.
Sunshine Coast women dancing at the Skypool.
With images that seem almost to move and come to life on the page, Walker documents the annual “Schoolies” festival celebrated at the start of every summer by tens of thousands of Australian teenagers determined to enjoy a week-long high school graduation party.
David Caird: News Corp
Breaky Boys: “I was challenged to bring together Breakfast Television rivals David Koch and Karl Stefanovic in a single photo for the Legends of the Small Screen. The concept of the ‘Odd Couple’ focused on their different characters. After rigorous negotiation, the concept of the two stars dressed in pyjamas enjoying their breakfast together became a reality.”
100th Anniversary of ANZAC Gallipoli: “The 100th Anniversary of ANZAC Day at Gallipoli was the pinnacle of Australian War remembrance. Utilising historical photos of Australian WWI soldiers who fought at Gallipoli, I precisely set each photo into a small mound of pebbles on North Beach where the Australians first landed in their long boats. Adding iconic ‘live poppies’ to the photos gave them life and colour.”
From the 100th Anniversary of ANZAC Day at Gallipoli to the incongruous image of footy legend Ron Barassi mowing “his backyard”, David Caird’s portfolio demonstrates his range of editorial and news photography skills, his complete dedication to his work and a consistent ability to relate to his subjects.
Andrew Quilty: Oculi
Turkish Security Forces break up Kurds gathering by the border.
Afghan refugees return home after being pushed out of Pakistan.
Andrew Quilty unfailingly captures the fragility of any situation he finds himself in. His sensitive eye and unusual skill reveal the other side of war. Never focusing on the oppressor, Quilty highlights the victims of war, capturing the inherent dignity of those he photographs.
Gary Ramage: News Corp
The Tower of London marks the 100th anniversary of the start of Britain’s involvement in the First World War. 888,246 poppies filled the Tower’s moat between July 17 and November 11,2014. Each of the red blooms represented a British military fatality during the war.
Standing on the flight deck of HMAS Anzac as it prepared to join the commemoration of the Gallipoli landings, thenPrime Minister Tony Abbott posed with crew members for photos.
Gary Ramage’s portfolio demonstrates his range, skill and superb ability to cover the regular news beat as well in-depth reporting. Gaining extraordinary access and telling difficult stories, he draws our attention to the topics of the moment.