8th Year … Trinity Bay High Student Portrait Prize …

This past week I once again had the delightful task of judging the works of Trinity Bay High School students in their annual Photographic Portrait Prize … and presenting the awards for the eighth year in a row.

Yearly, I’ve been amazed by the quality of photographic portraiture produced by the students … some barely in their teens. Looking back on my pictorial skills when their age, I would have been way down the bottom of class.

Having said that, this year when faced with over sixty quality portraits lining the Visual Arts walls, I was even more stunned. The collective students had really excelled and produced a ‘best ever’ portraiture exhibition.

Selecting the three winners was a daunting and lengthy task. In the end the overall winner boiled down to an almost impossible choice between two great portraits … neither of which would look out of place published in National Geographic magazine. Ultimately the self portrait ‘Window of Soul’ (top) by David-Paul Onakoy got the winning nod over ‘It Takes a Village to Raise a Child’ (second from top) made by his mate David Mashengo … but only just !! The Congolese student pair both produced wonderfully constructed portraits that told a story. David-Paul took home the winners prize of a DSLR camera courtesy of sponsors Garricks Camera House.

Interestingly and in contrast to the previous couple of years … this years three winners all showed strong eye contact in their portraits, with the beautifully executed and literally eye-catching work by Sienna Stuart-Bennet of her friend Shakira, ‘Vision’, making up the top prized trio.

I could have easily awarded a dozen or so ‘Honourable Mentions’ but had to limit the decision to just three, coincidently all black and white portraits. The works of … Jade Gubb (titled ‘Dystopian Gremlin’ – great attitude and angle of view) … Noecocha Cowley (‘Mary’ – striking use of shadow) … and Mattie-Leigh Hanson (‘Seashore’ – beautifully constructed and composed), prevailed. Virgil Gill won the top prize amongst the school staff section for the work ‘Sunshine’ … whilst ‘Sweet 16’ by student Shirley Vue (bottom image) was chosen by popular vote as ‘Peoples Choice’.

Much praise must go to the dedicated Visual Arts teaching staff at the school who are fostering and moulding this amazing young photographic talent.

You can view all the TBHS students winning works from the past seven years by clicking here… 2022202120202019201820172016

See you all next year for number nine …

Images © The Student Artists … from top … David-Paul Onakoy, David Mashengo, Sienna Stuart-Bennet, Jade Gubb, Noecocha Cowley & Mattie-Leigh Hanson, Shirley Vue

Judging School Students Portraiture at TBHS …

The years fly by … it seems almost yesterday that I was asked for the first time to judge the work of Trinity Bay High Schools photography class students. It was actually seven years ago in 2016 … and the students whose work was displayed in that years exhibition will now be well into their twenties.

This year I once again had the distinct pleasure of being asked to judge the schools annual photographic portrait prize … for the seventh year in a row.

Last week that judging took place followed by the announcement of winners and presentations …

There were a whole host of great portraits adorning the walls of the schools gallery that could have made it into the winners circle including (but not only) works by Axil Austin, Marie Johnson, Naomi Rubambo, Patrick Munguyiko and Prince Mashengo.

A very challenging decision this year … but after circling the gallery works on the wall many times …  with several breaks for rumination … i came up with these results (images below, counter clockwise from top) … Winner – ‘Bridezilla’ by Ali Talty , Second Place – ‘Mutesi’ by Angelique Iradukanda, Third Place – ‘Muslim Girl’ by Samita Khadka and Highly Commended – ‘The Deadly Clown’ by Mamta Bista. At bottom below is the work that was voted Peoples Choice by visitors to the exhibition … ‘Island Eyes’ by Peiwa Wamala  … and personally I’m glad they did :-).

Ali’s Winning work ‘Bridezilla’ was unmissable on the wall … a highly detailed image from a great quality file. It’s one of those images that you can’t stop looking around and searching for little details and making your own ‘interpretations’. (Still not one hundred percent about the title tho’ 😉 ). For her excellent wining work Ali was presented with a DSLR camera courtesy of sponsor Garricks Camera House, Cairns by teacher Ian Whittaker.

Angelique’s Second Place ‘Mutesi’ is a nicely put together classy, sophisticated work … nice interesting pose by the subject, displaying her to best effect.

An excellent quality image file and the use of great quality of the light and careful pose and composition used in Samita’s ‘Muslim Girl’ made it an exceptional work and a well deserved Third.

Some may feel that the selection of Mamta’s ‘The Deadly Clown’ may have been a ‘controversial’ decision. My take is that the almost abstract work is totally unmissable and unforgettable … some viewers remarked it was ‘very scary’. Great … if an image evokes emotion I’m all for it. I’ve seen the body of work that Mamta selected this image from … and it’s great creative work that deserved recognition.

The Trinity Bay teachers excelled this year with more entries in the ‘Staff Award’ than previous years … and my selection for best staff entry was a clever black and white work ‘Infinite Gambit’ by Kelly Nottle.

Over the years I’ve been constantly amazed by the work that these grade 12, 11 and younger students produce … and the work that that the teachers of the Visual Arts Faculty … this year Luke Madsen, Caroline Mudge and Clair Lloyd … nurture their students to produce.

Can’t wait for my eighth TBHS Photographic Portrait Prize next year …

You can find the previous winning images from the last six years of the TBHS portrait prize here …20212020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016.

Images © the students … (top four – counter clockwise from top) … ‘Bridezilla’ by Ali Talty, ‘Mutesi’ by Angelique Iradukanda, ‘Muslim Girl’ by Samita Khadka and ‘The Deadly Clown’ by Mamta Bista … (bottom) … ‘Island Eyes’ by Peiwa Wamala

Trinity Bay High School Portrait Prize 2022 - winner by Ali Talty - judge Brian Cassey

Trinity Bay High School Portrait Prize 2022 - 3rd and 2nd Place - Muslim Girl Samita Khadka_ Mutesi by Angelique - judge Brian Cassey

Trinity Bay High School Portrait Prize - Honourable - The Deadly Clown by Mamta Bista - judge Brian Cassey

Trinity Bay High School Portrait Prize - People's Choice - Island Eyes - Peiwa Wamala


Judging Trinity Bay High Portrait Prize 2021 …

A distinct pleasure … for the sixth year … to be invited to judge and present at the annual Trinity Bay High School Photographic Portrait Prize for 2021.

It never ceases to amaze me the quality of portrait work that these talented teen students submit … and the passion and dedication shown by their tutors to foster that talent.

Another big year for student entries this year … the schools gallery space was crowded with some excellent portraiture. As always the case, several images stood out … the more difficult part was settling on a winner and the other prize winners.

The work of year eleven Patrick Rubambo student ‘No Face’ featuring Angelique Iradukunda … an evocative, creative, well executed, nicely composed and beautifully detailed and printed black and white portrait (top below) … left me no option but to declare it the Winner.

Patrick hails from Burundi in east central Africa and came to Australia in 2019. Now in his third year at Trinity Bay High, he has been studying Film, TV and Photography since inspired by what he saw on YouTube and Instagram. His mates seemed more excited than Patrick as he calmly accepted his prize …  a Nikon DSLR courtesy of Garricks Camera House.

Year 12 student Ipsa Bharti was selected as runner up for her beautifully lit portrait ‘Patter of my Mind’, year 11 Madi La Pira was not far behind with her candid approach to ‘EOTS’, whilst Abbey Wilson’s (year 12) creative ‘Ghost’ scored an Honourable Mention. (All shown below.)

Janelle Williams Head of the schools Visual Arts department, New Media teacher Luke Madsen, arts teacher Caroline Mudge and all others involved in fostering the students visual talents should be most gratified with the results.

You can find the winners images from previous years TBHS portrait prizes here … 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016.

Images © the students … (clockwise from top) … Patrick Rubambo, Ipsa Bharti, Madi La Pira and Abbey Wilson

Winner - Trinity Bay High School Photographic Portrait Prize 2021 - 'No Face' by Patrick Rubambo - judge Brian Cassey

Trinity Bay High School Photographic Portrait Prize 2021 - 'Ghost' by Abbey Wilson (Commended) & ‘Pattern of my Mind’ by Ipsa Bharti (2nd Place)- judge Brian Cassey

3rd Place - Trinity Bay High School Photographic Portrait Prize 2021 - 'EOTS by Made La Pira - judge Brian Cassey

The Portrait Photographers of Trinity Bay High School …

A pleasure once again to be faced with the task of judging the work of the extraordinary visual arts students at Trinity Bay High School in their annual photographic portrait prize. This is the fifth year I’ve had the privilege of being the arbiter of their collective efforts at portraiture. Would have to say that this years overall collection well exceeds the standards of the previous four years.

Although slightly down on numbers from last year (not surprisingly during a year when their school curriculum has been adversely impacted by Covid-19) approximately fifty portrait prints lined the walls at the Trinity Bay school.

Standout ‘Best in Show’ winner was a somewhat controversial exceptional image entitled ‘Dysthymia’ by grade 12 student Kayla Allan of her sister Keira. I must confess that that I was unfamiliar with the term ‘Dysthymia’ and had to look it up.

A form of clinical depression, dysthymia is from the Greek word meaning “bad state of mind” or “ill humour”. Symptoms include depressed mood, disturbed sleep, low energy, poor concentration, poor appetite, low self-esteem, and hopelessness.

Once seen, the image (top – below) doesn’t let you go … the irresistible eyes follow you around … and it vividly tells ‘a story’ commensurate with it’s title. I won’t forget the work … or the meaning of the word ‘Dysthymia’.

Kayla deservedly received a Nikon DSLR camera for her work courtesy of sponsor Garricks Camera House.

The Seniors Prize (for grades 11 and 12) went to Kelli Baker (grade 11) for an eerie self portrait ‘A Watery Veil’ (below – second from top). The Juniors Prize (grades 7 to 10) I awarded to Sam Williams (grade 10) for his equally atmospheric portrait entitled ‘Isolation’ of his mum Kylie (third row – right). Each were awarded vouchers to spend on photo kit at Garricks.

Also handed out several well deserved ‘Highly Commended’ awards to Juniors … Shaun McIntyre (grade 10) for ‘Thoughts’ of subject Layla Johnson (pensively looking remarkably like a young actress Genna Davis – below – bottom), Imogen Toohey (grade 7) for an ‘Untitled’ work … and Seniors … Madison Robinson (grade 11) for ‘Expectations’ (below – third row left), Chantelle Nolan (grade 12) for ‘Behind’ and Hanna Browning (grade 11) for ‘Secluded Minds’. (NB – My apologies to Hanna, Chantelle and Imogen – unable to present your work here due to ‘space’ issues.)

The visual arts teachers at Trinity Bay also deserve their own award for fostering these photographic talents amongst their student numbers. Again, a distinct pleasure to be involved.

Links to previous years winners and works can be found here … 20192018, 2017, 2016.

Images © the Artists … from top … Kayla Allan, Kelli Baker, Madison Robinson (left), Sam Willams (right), Shaun McIntyre.

Trinity Bay High School Photographic Portrait Prize - Winner Kayla Allan - judged by Brian Cassey

Trinity Bay High School Photographic Portrait Prize - Winner Kelli Baker - judged by Brian Cassey

Trinity Bay High School Photographic Portrait Prize - Winners Madison Robinson & Sam Williams - judged by Brian Cassey

Trinity Bay High School Photographic Portrait Prize - Winner Shaun McIntyre - judged by Brian Cassey

Winning Portraits By Trinity Bay HS Students …

Once again … for the fourth year … had the pleasure last week of judging the work of photography students at the Trinity Bay High School Cairns annual portrait photography prize.

This year the exhibition walls at the school were covered in around seventy works … significantly more than previous years … made by students from grades 7 through to 12. For the first time more than one major prize was on offer … an overall ‘Best in Show’ and Junior (grades 7 to 10) and Senior (grades 11 and 12) Winners prizes.

‘Best in Show’ was a ‘no brainer’ … Lou Vang’s brilliant and highly technical portrait “True Self” (top below) demanded your attention with a mesmerising stare which followed you around the room. Lou focused critically on the most important point of the image … the eyes. A portrait that would stand on it’s own anywhere. Lou was awarded a Nikon D3500 courtesy of Garricks Camera House.

The Junior and Senior prizes, however, were a lot harder to decide upon. Following a fair bit of agonising I settled on the Junior winner … Kelli Baker’s creative “Fragmented” (bottom below) just getting the nod over Holly Koch’s dark brooding “Arinar in Shadow” (second from top below). The Senior decision was just as difficult but eventually settled on Marcus Pedro’s “Time to Destroy” (right – third from top) over Kayla Allan’s “Kales” (left – third from top).

Two others received ‘Highly Commended’ awards … Georgia Willis for “Windswept” in the Juniors and Tarik Clarke for “Denied” in the Seniors. Visitors to the exhibition voted “Saturated Vibrance” by Chantelle as the ‘Peoples Choice’ winner.

Another great exhibition by photography students at Trinity Bay … and a testament to the quality of the arts and photography teaching staff of Dan, Jim, Nina, Ian et al. Refreshing to see this dedication to the photographic arts.

Links to previous years winners and works can be found here … 2018, 2017, 2016.

Images © the artists … Lou Vang, Holly Koch, Kayla Allan, Marcus Pedro and Kelli Baker.

Trinity Bay High School Photographic Portrait Prize - Winner - Mugshot by Lou Vang

Trinity Bay High School Photographic Portrait Prize - Arinar in Shadow by Holly Koch

Trinity Bay High School Photographic Portrait Prize - Images by Kayla Allan and Marcus Pedro

Trinity Bay High School Photographic Portrait Prize - Junior Winner - Fragmented by Kelli Baker

Trinity Bay Portraits Excel …

Once again … for the third year … delighted to be asked to judge the annual Trinity Bay High School “Photographic Portrait Prize”.

Once again I was mightily impressed by the work of these talented photography students under the tutelage of the dedicated Trinity Bay visual arts teaching staff. The standard of entries this year exceeded the already high standard of previous years (2017 here and 2016 here)… and that made the judging decision making that much harder.

Eventually, I decided on a Winner, second, third and four highly commended … plus a couple of mentions for the seperate ‘staff’ prize.

Grade 12 student Lit Thao … who has a hearing and communication impairment … won third prize in last years Portrait Prize. There is no doubt that his visual communication skills are extraordinary. This year his image “Angry Man” stared out from amongst the other sixty odd works on the exhibition walls .. and dragged you in. I had little hesitation in awarding his work the winner of the Nikon D3400 DSLR prize sponsored by Garricks Camera House in Cairns.

Not far behind was the Mona Lisa-esque work of grade 11 student Kimberley Burns entitled “Portrait of Ruby”. In both these images the eyes of the subject seem to follow the viewer around the room.

Third place went to a more abstract, creative, but nonetheless intriguing work  … “Portrait of Livio” … by Greta Beluffi. Greta is also a grade 11 student.

Out of the four Highly Commended works I selected … Vika Latu’s “Nostalgia in August”, Madison Robinson’s “Truth Behind the Smile”, Laura Saavedra’s “In the South” and Elise Mcatamney’s “Untiled”… one deserves an extra special mention. Elise (her work is bottom below) is just a grade 7 student. Remarkably three works different from my selection tied for the “Peoples Choice” award.

If you are a Cairns resident and interested in our talented budding photo artists try and get along to the Photographic Prize  exhibition at Trinity Bay High School.

Below … from top … Winner – “Angry Man” by Lit Thao, Second – “Portrait of Ruby” by Kimberley Burns, Third – “Portrait of Livio” by Greta Beluffi, Highly Commended (1 of 4) – “Untitled” by Elise Macatamney (grade 7). Works © the individual artists.


2018 Trinity Bay High School "Photographic Portrait Prize" - image by Lit Tao - judged by Brian Cassey

2018 Trinity Bay High School "Photographic Portrait Prize" - image by Kimberly Burns - judged by Brian Cassey

2018 Trinity Bay High School "Photographic Portrait Prize" - image by Greta Beluffi - judged by Brian Cassey

Why This Won the Trinity Bay School Portrait Prize …

Last week it was a pleasure to once again judge the works in the annual photographic portrait prize at Trinity Bay High School in Cairns.

This years exhibition totalled about sixty portraits from the students (and a handful of teachers). The overall standard of the entries appeared improved on last years crop. A significant achievement. It took a stroll several times around the exhibition walls before finally settling on this years First, Second, Third, a couple of  ‘commendations’ and a staff prize.

The work that I finally settled on as best in show was a multi layered portrait by grade 12 Shantelle Birch entitled “Self Hate” (top – below).  Not only is Shantelle’s work a complicated and quality portrait, but also comments on the role of portraiture in society itself. The strong title and intricate image evokes emotion, addresses a contemporary youth issue on personal image and self doubt … and the pressures to confirm to stereotypes that visually bombard youth everyday. For her very well deserved win she was thrilled to receive a Nikon D3400 DSLR courtesy of sponsor Garricks Camera House.

Fractionally behind in Second Place was “The Despondent Girl” (second from top – below) … a  well structured beautifully textured and composed portrait by Irin Phomraksa (also grade 12). Her work was anchored on the stare of the one visible eye amongst the seeming chaos of the windswept image.

Third was a classic and well constructed portrait – “Look Like Art” (bottom – below) by grade 11’s Lit Thai. Highly Commended awards went to untitled works by Etevise Taua and Lachlan Best (Lachlan’s clever and disturbing!), whilst the exhibition crowd voted Graziella Romunga’s work as ‘People’s Choice’. Staff prize went to a stand out entry – “Goodbye” by Anna Koetz Trowse.

Trinity Bay High School Visual Arts department teachers, including Sean Tooley and Ian Whittaker, should take a bow. Once again it was great to see, comment on and judge the wonderful photographic work of their talented students.

Images © the artists – Shantelle Birch, Irin Phomraksa and Lit Thai (2017)

Trinity Bay High School Photographic Portrait Prize - judged by Brian Cassey

Trinity Bay High School Photographic Portrait Prize - judged by Brian Cassey

Trinity Bay High School Photographic Portrait Prize - judged by Brian Cassey