I first clicked the shutter of a camera (two shillings and sixpence at Woolworths) at what would, in those good old days, have been considered a young age. The work produced was erratic and questionable … but I fluked the odd one or two that I was happy with.
This week I had the pleasure to be involved with scores of young photographers whose work at a similar age far outshines my earliest efforts. Along with fellow Cairns photographer Romy Bullerjahn, I was asked to judge and present prizes at the 2016 Trinity Bay High School Portrait Photography Prize.
I really didn’t know what to expect before walking into the schools gallery to select the winning portraits from about fifty entries … many of a quite startling quality. Picking winners was a difficult task for Romy and myself but we eventually settled on first, second, third and two highly commended (as well as two ‘staff’ prizes).
The story around 14 year old Matt Hastie’s selected winning portrait “Shades” is remarkable. Matt only picked up his first DSLR camera a month ago – a ‘loaner’ from the school inventory. Prior to that he had only made ‘phone’ pictures. His prize winning evocative image (below – top) was made during that first ever ‘proper photography assignment’.
Shell shocked and shy, Matt said he was ‘pretty happy’ to win and to be presented with the prize of his very own Canon DSLR courtesy of Garricks Camera House. He is now enthusiastic about his plan to choose Photo Imaging as an elective school subject from grade 10 … and maybe one day pursue a professional photography career.
Fractionally behind Matt’s work were images by students of a similar age or younger – Matilda Sail (2nd – year 7), Eden Cvetkovic, (3rd – year 11), Eliza Sail, (commended – Year 9) and Pagan Sutcliffe (commended – Year 11). Delon Clark took out the Peoples Choice Award.
When I was their age it was inconceivable for schools to teach photography. With the help of Trinity Bay Arts teachers Ian Whittaker, Sean Tooley and the Arts department staff and program, these young aspiring students have made great strides towards becoming the next generation of photographers and photographic artists.
Images – Top – Winner “Shades’ by Matthew Hastie © . Below – clockwise from top left – works by Matilda Sail © 2nd, Eden Cvetkovic © 3rd, Pagan Sutcliffe © HC, Eliza Sail © HC, Delon Clarke © Peoples Choice.