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Jake Nowakowski wins Walkley Press Photographer of the Year

Herald Sun photographer, Jake Nowakowski, has won the Nikon-Walkley Press Photographer of the Year award for a ‘varied and well-edited portfolio’ of 10 images.

Yes:Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews takes to the stage at a Labor Party function at the Village Green Hotel to celebrate winning a third term in government in the 2022 State Election. Photo: Jake Nowakowski.

Nowakowki’s portfolio covers a range of newsworthy topics, ranging from his speciality, protest images, as well as editorial portraits, sporting moments, house fires and bus crashes, a Star Wars cosplayer, and an awkwardly celebrating Daniel Andrews.
‘Preparing to shoot a planned protest requires research and knowledge of the protest group or groups, early arrival to ensure a prime position, delicate negotiating skills to get through police lines, safety goggles to protect from pepper spray, and the expectation that anything is likely to happen,’ Nowakowski said. ‘Pre-arranged feature, portrait, and picture story shoots require the same skills and planning. The location, whether it’s going to be busy, the time of day, the position of the sun, delicate negotiating skills for overzealous security personnel, and required lighting are just some of the things that need to be taken into consideration.’

The judges describe Nowakowski’s portfolio as showing his range as a newspaper photographer.

‘The shot of Dan Andrews with a manic look is very visually striking and Nowakowski has worked around difficult TV lighting to achieve it. There’s hard news and a bit of quirk and humour,’ they said.

After leaving a career as a graphic designer in 2003, Jake Nowakowski found himself freelancing both at home and abroad before eventually accepting staff positions at the North West Starin Mount Isa and The Cairns Post. He is currently employed as a staff photographer for the Herald Sun in Melbourne.

In 2021, Nowakowski described how he was arrested by Victoria Police while photographing a Melbourne anti-lockdown protest.

The Nikon-Walkley Press Photo of the Year goes to Matilda Joy, by Getty Images sport photographer, Quinn Rooney.

Matilda Joy: Australian players celebrate as goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold stops France’s penalty shot by Eve Perisset in the penalty shoot out during the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Quarter Final in Brisbane. Photo: Quinn Rooney.

The image was captured moments after Matildas goalkeeper, Mackenzie Arnold, stopped one of France’s penalty shots in the Quarter Final match.

The Walkley Photography judges describe the image as the perfect example of ‘jubo’, a newsroom abbreviation for a picture that captures the jubilation of a sporting victory.

‘It’s a moment that encapsulates the spirit of the country,’ the judges said. ‘The eyes on it,the emotion we have invested into it. It’s the peak of action, a global moment. Of all the Matildas’ celebration jubo photos, that one really nailed it. It includes many of the key players on the team, caught in a perfect moment. Poetry in motion.’

Here is a gallery of the other category winning images:

News Photography – Ian Munro, The West Australian, ‘Banksia Hill Riot’

Nearly 50 juveniles were involved in a riot overnight at Western Australia’s Banksia Hill Detention Centre, a prison facility for offenders aged 10-17, in May 2023. They set fire to accommodation, arming themselves and climbing up onto the roof. The tense stand-off came to an end when special operations group officers stormed the roof of WA’s only juvenile prison. Ian Munro caught this lightning rod moment, which brought the 14 hours of chaos to an end. The image struck a nerve, and was used at protests and shared on social media.

Ian Munro said, “The picture is exclusive and was taken on a long lens from scrubland near the Detention Centre that I had to access on foot through bushland. I felt that the situation between the special operations officers and this individual was escalating, which led me to focus on this group and quickly change my location to get this shot.”

Special operations group officers storm the roof of Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre near Perth, bringing an end to 14 hours of chaos after the youths set fire to accommodation, armed themselves with weapons and climbed onto the roof. The inmate in this picture is a youth and cannot be identified. The face has been blurred and the T-shirt colour changed. Photo: Ian Munro.

Sport Photography – Quinn Rooney, Getty Images, ‘Beauty in Sport’

Five images in ‘Beauty in Sport’ depict the raw emotion, competitive intensity and dedication of athletes performing at their peak. Rooney’s creativity is on show in a shot of a diver, photographed through an out-of-focus yellow sign to encircle and highlight the diver’s performance. And as for raw passion, it is hard to go past the energy and elation on every Matilda’s face as they celebrate their penalty shoot-out victory against France. This shot won the 2023 Nikon Prize for Photo of the Year.

Quinn Rooney said, “At times, the beauty in an image is easy to see in the athlete’s raw passion or athleticism. At others, the image needs to be complemented by skilful use of the surroundings to convey the story to the viewer.”

Feature/Photographic Essay – Justin McManus, The Age, ‘Leaving the Land of Plenty’

This is a deeply personal narrative documenting Effie Tsagalidis’ journey of grief, loss and loneliness,which culminated in her departure from the family farm, her home of fifty-eight years. Justin McManus first encountered Effie and her husband Paul in 2016, and has been visiting and photographing them ever since. Early in 2023 he saw signs advertising a new estate at the property’s front gate. Paul had passed away and, amid her grief, Effie had to work through a lifetime of possessions and memories as she prepared to leave her home.

Justin McManus said, “I was taken by their traditional way of life on their farm in Plenty, in Melbourne’s north-east. Surrounded by the encroaching urban sprawl, their humble way of life was in direct contrast to the extravagant mansions rising up all around them. Property developers were constantly at their door encouraging them to sell their farm and move into the city.”

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