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Wayne Quilliam wins 2022 National Photographic Portrait Prize

Aboriginal photographer, Wayne Quilliam, has won the 2022 National Photographic Portrait Prize (NPPP) for his portrait of Aurukun man Eric Yunkaporta , Silent Strength 2021.

Silent Strength by Wayne Quilliam.

Quilliam was at the Laura Quinkan dance festival, a showcase of Cape York indigenous history through dance, when he approached Yunkaporta.

‘I looked at him and I said, “brother, you look so familiar”. And we started to have a bit of a yarn and we realised that I’d photographed his grandfather, his community, his Uncles and Aunties, for many, many years,’ Qulliam said to the ABC. ‘I basically turned around and said, “brother, do you just mind if I grab a quick photo of you before you go out?”’

As Quilliam captured two or three shots, he noted Yunkaporta is a ‘very quiet, incredibly strong man’.

In his caption, Quilliam states:
‘In its purest essence, the evolution of culture connects us to Mother Earth. She inhales and exhales with us, has a heartbeat, and sings songs for all to hear. My role as a storyteller continues to evolve and this capture is akin to a trickle of water merging into a small stream then into the ocean. This image of Eric Yunkaporta from Aurukun is Culture.

National Portrait Gallery’s director of Collection and Exhibitions and NPPP judge, Sandra Bruce, stated ‘there’s this contemporary drama that speaks to this 40,000-50,000 years’ worth of tradition’.

Quilliam has won $30K cash, as well as $20,000 worth of Canon gear which he hopes to donate to indigenous communities across Australia so they may document their culture.

Australian photojournalist, Adam Ferguson, was highly commended for a photo he enabled happen, but didn’t capture. It’s a self portrait by Guatemalan migrant, Carlos Soyos, and his son Emerson, captured at a migrant shelter in Chihuahua, Mexico. The photo is part of a series, Migrantes, which won the prestigious 2022 Sony World Photography Awards Photographer of the Year.

Carlos Soyos by Adam Ferguson.

Here’s his caption:
‘The life of a migrant at the Mexico–United States border waiting for the right moment to cross into the US is often in flux. I tried to document a piece of this uncertain journey by giving people a chance to convey it in their own way. I mounted a medium-format camera onto a tripod with a cable release and then stepped back, allowing the migrants to choose the moment of capture. Through a collaborative process I attempted to give the migrants agency in their own representation and story.

The judges felt that the ‘gesture of allowing the subject to choose the moment gives the image emotional power’.

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2022 finalists


The NPPP Finalists exhibition is showing now at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra until October 9, 2022. Click here for more info.

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