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International Portrait Photographer of the Year winners

Winners of the inaugural International Portrait Photographer of the Year (IPPOTY) have been announced, with Brisbane photographer Forough Yavari taking the top prize.

Solitude by Forough Yavari, IPPOTY top prize winner. ‘Confronting loss is not easy, even impossible. It takes you from being sad to calm, from feeling angry to face loneliness. You try avoid it and resist it and even physically get away from it, but you can’t, and it ages you and hurts you. This is someone that is still in a lot of pain from loss, not that they’ll ever be pain-free, but they haven’t hit the bottom of the curve yet’.

Australians won half of the award categories, and represent a third of the top 101 pictures. IPPOTY founder, Peter Eastway, speculates that ‘ I am better known to Australians and perhaps they feel comfortable knowing the competition is genuine. Or perhaps I flatter myself! We had a large Australian representation in the early years of the International Landscape Photographer of the Year (ILPOTY) as well.’

Eastway also runs ILPOTY alongside David Evans. The portrait contest was promoted by Evans’ other photography-based businesses – specialist PR agency Photo Publicity, and contest directory Green Light Photo Contests. And two of the six judges are Australian. So it seems the local connection has naturally brought in more Australian entries.

Additionally, there were just 948 entries submitted. The average entrant likely submitted more than one image – plenty of photographers have two images in the Top 101 – meaning there may have been far fewer than 500 entrants. By comparison, IPPOTY is modelled on Eastway’s more well-established International Landscape Photographer of the Year contest, which in its first year garnered 2233 entries from 519 entrants.

‘For me, it’s a long term project. Watching how ILPOTY has grown over the years, I’m comfortable we will increase numbers over the next few years with IPPOTY as well,’ Eastway said. ‘And today there are a lot more photo competitions around (well, I feel there are), so more alternatives for entrants. Fortunately, the Top 101 photos published in our book format seems to be popular with photographers, so here’s hoping portrait photographers respond as positively as landscape photographers have.’

The results

Yavari’s winning photo, Solitude, also won the Portrait Story category. This image has been doing extremely well on the awards circuit, having won the AIPP Silver Lining Awards Photo Illustration category, Silver at the World Photographic Cup. It also featured on the cover of Australian Camera magazine.

Yavari also came second in the Portrait Story category for her image, The Loneliness of Grief, and another second in the Character Study category for I Have A Dream.

The Loneliness of Grief by Forough Yavari, second place in Portrait Story category. ‘This image which is kinda of personal is about grief and the loneliness you have to deal with it no matter how many people there might be around you. And you are the only one who can help healing yourself. that is why in this image the main subject is surrounded by herself. I titled this “loneliness of grief” and it was dedicated to my little sister’.

Myanmar photographer, Yar Lin, won the Character Study category for his image, Tribal Identity, and he also won the Family Sitting category for Maiden of the Suri Tribe.

Tribal identity by Yar Lin, winner of Character Study category. ‘A young Suri boy paints his face with white clay, surrounded by Suri women decorating their hands with bronze bracelets. Suri tribe in the Omo Valley. Ethiopia maintains important symbols of tribal identity, such as face and body painting.The shapes and colors convey a strong bond and meaning amongst them’.

‘While we have prizes, as judges and successful entrants know, being a prize-winner is partly opinion and partly luck,’ writes Easyway. ‘That’s why we put more emphasis on being in the Top 101 as there is plenty of room for a variety of tastes, approaches and styles. And any of the Top 101 photographs could be a prize winner on the day.

‘We think there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing our photos published alongside the world’s best – so congratulations to all the Top 101 photographers. Being in the Top 101 gives you a place in our exclusive book which is published online and can be purchased as a ‘real’ hard-cover paper publication as well (it’s proudly printed by Momento Pro).’

Click here for the full list of winners and pictures.

Photo contest criteria

Organising group: Pt 78 Pty Ltd. (Peter Eastway)
Status/Objective: For-profit business aiming to award top 101 portrait photos.
Entry fee: US$25 per entry. Enter four images for US$100, and the fifth entry is free.
Prizes: US$3000 for overall prize winner. US$1000 for category winners.
Sponsors: Momento Pro
Judges: Charmaine Heyer, David Burnett, Martina Wärenfeldt, Rocco Ancora, Sanjay Jogia, Sarah Ferrara.
Number of entrants/submissions: 948 entries
Categories: Four portrait related categories.
Exposure: Promoted online through social media and media campaign, Top 101 entries feature in photo book.
Affiliations: The contest is run by Peter Eastway, a well-known Australian landscape photographer who publishes Better Photography magazine, and is involved with other photo contests with business partner and photo contest entrepreneur, David Evans
Transparency: Extremely transparent, particularly going in-depth with how the judging process works.
Communication: Contact details easily available via About Us section.
Estimated Gross Revenue: US$25 x 948 = US$23.7K.
Copyright standards: ‘You always retain full ownership and copyright in your Entries.’
Overall rating: A transparent for-profit contest with quality judges, a robust and refined judging process, and run by a reputable local photo industry figure. With just 948 entries, there is some way to go before it’s a leading international portrait contest. (On the flipside, a lack of entries statistically improves the chances of winning!)

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