Lee Grant – Photography Blog

2007 CCP/Leica Award Finalists Announced

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Received an email yesterday about the finalists for this rather prestigious award. An interesting bunch some of whom were already familiar names. Here is the list of finalists:

Michael Amendolia, James Brickwood, Cara Bowerman, Anthony Dawton, Stephen Dupont (2), Sean Hobbs, Jesse Marlow, Natalie McComas, Laki Sideris, Steven Siewert, Doug Spowart+Victoria Cooper, Emma Thompson, Tamara Voninski, Tom Williams, Matthew Newton (not to be confused with Bert’s son) and Lisa Wiltse.

This year two different series by one artist were selected for the show – Stephen Dupont step up please. A fine photographer there is no doubt, I like his work, though I do think he adheres strongly to the great romantic tradition of manly war photographer with big heart (to be frank, what male photojournalist doesn’t?).

Apparently, the work is selected by the panel of judges anonymously. It’s interesting – if this is indeed the case – that the same photographers keep appearing as finalists. Which makes me wonder, are the judges already cognisant – perhaps unconsciously – of the photographer’s work and/or style? Or are they looking for a particular kind of work that can be defined as representative of their expectations of documentary photography in Australia today? And if so, does this mean that there is little room (at least in these such comps) for something else?

I also thought it interesting that four of the finalists belong to Oculi, an Australian collective of photographers based on principles not dissimilar to that of Magnum. Indeed, one of its founding members is Australia’s only Magnum member, Trent Parke. When I look at the images on their site, I am a little underwhelmed. And I say this with difficulty because I am very supportive of agencies or collectives that support emerging or recently established artists, especially in Australia as there seems to be very few. To back up my opinion, my instinctual thoughts are that some of the photographers have obviously influenced others within the cooperative, which is not to say that this is a bad thing in and of itself, however I do think that this bubble effect can stimy individual perspectives and ways in which their worlds might otherwise be observed. In the end some (certainly not all) of the results are disturbingly the same, which unfortunately just becomes boring rather than inviting.

Anyway, I have checked the websites of those Leica finalists who have them and I here are some of my picks (BTW, I have no idea if these were the images actually submitted to the comp – unlikely, but I like them anyway… )

  • Natalie McComas with the series Birthday Wishes (this really surprised me in a good way… an original take on a banal and bizarre subject – trust me, I know).


Birthday Barbie Table by Natalie McComas


Michael Amendolia from the series Kangaroo Harvest.

Didn’t really see much else that wowed me overly much. I mean it’s all strong work, no doubt about it, but as a viewer and someone who also photographs the Australian context I want to see more. More insight into this country of ours or at least our perspective of being an Australian somewhere else (to be fair I don’t even know if this is possible? I like to think that it is) and more work that doesn’t feel like I’ve already seen it 500 times. More psychology perhaps and less cliches? I dunno, but that’s how it feels….

And lastly, I did like some of the work of Sean Hobbs particularly the series Uganda- the Lord’s Nightmare (despite some of the images’ obvious links to Avedon, a plain white background with interesting ‘subject-matter’ always works), not to mention the fact that the brutal nature of the story itself is also compelling. And Ethiopia – the Ancient Walled City of Harar was also poetic. Square format is truly my favourite! I think he has some work showing at the Australian War Memorial having being selected as one of their official war artists earlier this year. I’ll check it out soon.

The grand winner will be announced on September 6th at the opening at CCP in Melbourne. I just hope it’s someone new, since many of these photographers have already been feted. Time for some newbies!

Written by Lee Grant

June 29, 2007 at 7:41 pm

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