Sydney photographer, Tamara Dean, has won the $50,000 Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize for her image Endangered, which shows nude swimmers diving underwater.
The photo explores the effects of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef, and was shot off the coast of Queensland while Deal visited the Heron Island Research Station.
‘The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest living marine structure, is finding little reprieve from more intense and frequent marine heatwaves brought on by climate change that cause devastating bleaching,’ Dean said. ‘Biologists predict that if we continue carrying on the way we are then by the end of this century, 50 percent of species living today will face extinction – and humans are not immune.’
Dean said she has wanted to make this shot for a while, and that the models are volunteers from the station.
‘I’ve seen photographs of single figures under the water but I had never seen that kind of thing. It’s very difficult as a photographer to make images that haven’t been made before.’
Endangered was selected from 3000 entries by judges Cheryl Newman, Stephen Dupont and Jon Jones.
‘This symbolic image addresses the fragility of our planet and vulnerability of its inhabitants. Endangered is an important picture; its message is challenging, its presentation poetic,’ Newman said.
Dean said she felt fortunate to win, considering the quality of entries was ‘absolutely outstanding’. Dupont agreed that the 30 finalist images were unusually strong this year, making it a tough call.
‘There were a few photographs that all of us judges really loved in terms of a winner. It was not an easy decision,’ he said. ‘But at the end of the day, Tamara’s photograph was chosen purely because it was so powerful. We kept going back to it. It’s a renaissance-looking, unsynchronised ballet.’
There were around 3000 entries in this year’s competition.
Here’s a selection of finalist images.