Leon O'Neil, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards

Awards, Eye Candy

The Stories Behind the Winning Images – SLA

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17 August 2020

By Katrina Ferguson

Join us as we explore the details of the 12 winning images from the AIPP’s inaugural Silver Lining Awards (in alphabetical order of category.)

From brand new members to awards and industry newcomers; students through to awards veterans, a wide gamut of photography experience is represented and celebrated here among the first-place winners.

Hear from the 10 winners of the 526 AIPP members who threw their digital hat into the silver-lined ring and submitted some 2970 individual entries in total.

Enjoy delving in and if you’d like to see the top 25 images from each of the 12 categories, you can head to the Silver Lining Awards galleries at any time.

AIPP Silver Linings, classic categories
AIPP Silver Linings, creative categories
ABOVE: Want to see all the finalist and semi-finalist images? Click through to have a look…

Abstract – Jackie Ranken

CATEGORY DESCRIPTION: In-camera art, including aerials, closeups, blurs, double exposures, etc. Read the complete description HERE.

Jackie Ranken, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards

I love finding beauty in the chaos.

Jackie Ranken APP GMPhotogI

Australian-born New Zealand resident Jackie Ranken has been an international awards judge for some 18 years and has a long list of prestigious Institute and awards achievements to her name.

“I’ve been entering the APPA print awards for over 20 years now, so entering the inaugural online AIPP Silver Lining Awards helped to keep the continuity going and encouraged me to keep looking for images that had ‘that something special’ about them. 

Jackie Ranken APP GMPhotogIPB

“Mind you,” Jackie said, “I still printed the image before I entered it and love the print.”

It seems old habits die hard!

Jackie Ranken, Silver Lining Awards, AIPP
ABOVE: Jackie Ranken, on-screen, just announced as the Abstract category winner during the live Silver Lining Awards Presentation night on Thursday 30 July 2020. (Go to 0:45:50 to see the Abstract category winner announcement)

Jackie is a landscape art photographer with a passion for what she calls multi-layered narratives via in-camera multiple exposures and intentional movement. Something, Jackie notes, she’s been doing a lot of lately.

“The [Abstract category winning] image was an in-camera multiple exposure, using five frames on my Canon EOS R,” said Jackie.

Seeing it digitally allowed me to, I guess, experiment a little bit more…It’s great and it seems to be working.

Jackie Ranken APP GMPhotogI

“This photo was taken the day after our Japan Photography Tour finished,” Jackie said.

That was November, 2019.

“Some of our clients had a day to fill in before their evening flight and a few of them had been to Shinjuku before our tour began and were keen to go back to the area. So that’s how we ended up in one of the busiest wards of Tokyo.”

“It’s a major commercial and administration centre with lots of people,” said Jackie. “Our group of five were looking down into the movie theatre area of Shinjuku.”

It was a very busy scene and I made it feel even busier by multiple exposing my shot five times, moving the camera between each frame.

Jackie Ranken APP GMPhotogI

Jackie’s favourite part of her winning image?

“In the first frame of the multiple exposure – the sign on the left – was lit,” she said, “Then it changed to dark tones, leaving this area oddly clear of the layering texture.”

“That’s a place for the eye to rest, while the remainder of the image represents one of the busiest areas of Tokyo: Shinjuku.” 

Jackie was one of seven past Australian Professional Photographers of the Year to enter the Silver Lining Awards.

Together with partner, Mike Langford, Jackie lives in Twizel, NZ and is co-director of the Creative Photography Workshops.

Fitzgerald Photo, Asus, Silver Lining Awards, AIPP
ABOVE: Thank you Fitzgerald Photo Lab and ASUS for sponsoring first prize in the Abstract category

Congratulations to all Abstract category place-getters:

  • 2nd – Steve Lovegrove
  • 3rd – David Dahlenberg
  • 4th – Paul Hoelen
  • 5th – Renee Doyle

Celebration – Leon O’Neil

CATEGORY DESCRIPTION: Weddings, parties, festivities. Read the complete description HERE.

Leon O'Neil, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards

I’ve had the pleasure of photographing a number of local characters for editorial pieces as well as my own image bank. Hearing about their lives and the challenges they face as well as their triumphs. This image of Margaret just about sums up the country attitude.

– Leon O’Neil APP AAIPP

Leon O’Neil’s Celebrations category winning image (shot with the aid of an off-camera fill flash) was captured on May 20 as part of a last minute assignment for a newspaper editorial.

His lovable subject, publican Margaret, was celebrating her portion of the 3000 litres of free XXXX beer delivered to remote Outback pubs and clubs when state lockdown restrictions eased on May 15.

The shoot, as with all editorial jobs, was last minute. At 12:30pm I was making COVID-19 lockdown lunches for my kids and by 3:00pm I was 140kms away dragging beer kegs out onto the footpath of a country pub.

– Leon O’Neil APP AAIPP

Although he suspected his winning shot wouldn’t be chosen for publication, Leon could see there was something special about it regardless.

“I shoot what the client requests,” he said, “But always dig a bit deeper and see what else I can extract.”

Margaret’s expression oozed the ‘bush spirit’ of how they tackle the obstacles thrown at them almost every day, so I knew it would be a contender for the Celebrations category.

– Leon O’Neil APP AAIPP
Leon O'Neil, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Leon O’Neil, on-screen from Charleville in southwest Queensland, just announced as the Celebrations category winner during the live Silver Lining Awards Presentation night aired on Facebook. (Go to 1:38:43 to see the Celebrations category winner announcement)

“I asked Margaret if they would re-open their pub with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions [allowing for 20 patrons at a time],” Leon said, “And she laughed at me and said: “We only have 26 locals! So 20 people at the bar would be a pretty busy night for us!””

Usually a self-confessed stickler for correct horizons and verticals, Leon felt the Dutch tilt – in combination with the near-empty beer and Margaret’s walking stick – brought the finished image together.

He did consider altering the crop to remove the bin and cars from the background but ultimately accepted them as supporting elements in the overall scene and story.

The image itself is pretty much SOOC [Straight Out Of Camera]…editing wise, I haven’t done anything that I wouldn’t have done in the darkroom back in the day.

– Leon O’Neil APP AAIPP

“I’m not the best Photoshop operator,” Leon confessed, “So for me, I always treat it like film and try and capture what I’m seeing in my mind ‘on film’ so to speak.”

“For me,” Leon said, “The best part of this image winning the Celebrations category in this year’s Silver Lining Awards is the confidence that grass roots photographic technique still plays a strong role in the modern world of photography.”

Kayell, Canson, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Thank you Kayell and Canson for sponsoring first prize in the Celebrations category

Congratulations to all Celebration category place-getters:

  • 2nd – Ari Rex
  • 3rd – Jacqui Dean
  • 4th – Peter Eastway
  • 5th – Brian Hodges

Goods & Services – Mark Brierley

CATEGORY DESCRIPTION: Commercial, industrial, architectural, food, fashion, sport. Read the complete description HERE.

Mark Brierley, Ryjoi Ikeda, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards, Suicide awareness

As someone who lives with an anxiety disorder, this is a literal representation of what it’s like inside my head…I just want to do my bit to raise awareness and help.

– Mark Brierley APP AAIPP

The original frame from which Mark Brierley crafted his winning image was inspired by a 96-metre animated audiovisual installation at the International Convention Centre (ICC) by Japanese electronic composer and visual artist, Ryoji Ikeda.

Mark photographed a small portion of the installation in August 2019 after APPA in Sydney, where he volunteered as a part of the event crew.

Mark Brierley, Chris Saunders, Emily Black, AIPP, APPA 2019
ABOVE: Mark Brierley (centre) with 2017 Australian Professional Photographer of the Year, Chris Saunders (left) and current AIPP Victorian President, Emily Black, working as volunteer event crew behind the jumps at APPA, Sydney, 2019. (Source: Katrina Ferguson)

Mark happened upon the gigantic installation while wandering around Sydney. “It’s a monstrous wall that looks like the New York Stock Exchange. There are numbers just flying past,” he said. 

He was instantly struck by Ikeda’s piece and felt compelled to capture it. “It was like nothing I had ever seen before.”

Ryoji Ikeda, ICC Sydney
ABOVE: The installation by Ryoji Ikeda in-situ at the ICC Sydney that formed the foundation of Mark’s winning image in the Goods & Services category

“As an urban landscape photographer, it’s quite easy to start seeing the same structures everywhere you look. So, when I found this digital wall it was something fresh and new to shoot.”

“When I first captured the raw file,” said Mark, “I had no idea what I was really looking at.”

A lot of my work, I don’t really know what I’m doing with it at the time. And I feel like with my images, it takes a few months for them to speak to me.

– Mark Brierley APP AAIPP

“There was a lot of editing and hours upon hours to put it all together as none of the wording existed in the original file,” Mark explained.

“I love the fact that on first glance it is quite a busy looking image,” he said, “But once the viewer takes the time to explore, they are then rewarded with the message I was portraying.”

I find the most important part of the image is the red heartbeat line that stops at the ‘Suicide’ and then underneath, ‘8.3 per day.’

– Mark Brierley APP AAIPP
Mark Brierley, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Mark Brierley, on-screen, just announced as the Goods & Services category winner during the live Silver Lining Awards Presentation night Thursday 30 July 2020. (Go to 1:46:20 to see the Goods & Services category winner announcement)

Mark explained the 8.3 figure as representing the national average for daily suicide in Australia. “What’s really sad about that statistic is that there is help out there and I am living proof that it can work,” he said.

Mark took the opportunity to highlight other mental issues he believes regularly go undetected or discussed. Scan closely through his image to find the phrase, “inside the mind of anxiety 1 in 7” along with “depression 1 in 16,” “self-harm 1 in 12,” and “PTSD 1 in 20.”

If you or someone you know is looking for support, please CLICK HERE to see an extensive list of helplines, websites and government mental health information services provided by Mental Health Australia.

“It’s an image I’m very, very proud of and one that was definitely slated for the state awards before [COVID-19] kicked in.”

I always like to push myself and my vision, I knew that once I had put my narrative into the image to create an advertisement on mental health, that it was either to be loved or hated by the judges. I love taking risks like that.

– Mark Brierley APP AAIPP
Mark Brierley, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Sources can neither confirm nor deny Mark was paces away from where the presentation of the Silver Lining Awards was being streamed live at North Metro TAFE, Western Australia. Sources can confirm Mark is Western Australian and firmly struck with the helper gene.

When Mark was asked during the live-streamed presentation of his award how things were going at the time, he said:

“When [COVID-19] all kicked off, my mindset was I’m either going to sink or I’m going to swim. I’ve swum my whole life and I’m a survivor…I’m really proud of my career at the moment and where things are going for me.”

And so you should be Mark. Congratulations.

Print2Metal, Chromaluxe, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Mark said in his acceptance speech he wants to print the winning image on metal. Thanks to Print 2 Metal for sponsoring the Goods & Services category with a $1500 Chromaluxe voucher

Congratulations to all Goods & Services category place-getters:

  • 2nd – Steve Scalone
  • 3rd – Michael Kennedy
  • 4th – Geoff Comfort
  • 5th – George Apostolidis

Isolated – Karen Waller

CATEGORY DESCRIPTION: Photographs addressing the theme of ‘isolation.’ Read the complete description HERE.

Karen Waller, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards

It was a planned moment and quite challenging to capture the image successfully. It took several shoots on different days to get the images I had in mind.

Karen Waller APP MPhotog

Adelaide-based Master Photographer, Karen Waller, describes herself as a creative and fine art portrait photographer – an apt description cleverly represented by this single winning image alone.

And ‘single’ is indeed, the operative word:

I chose this image for the competition and for the category of Isolated because the category prerequisite was a single capture and this image explored the theme of isolation.

Karen Waller APP MPhotog

“The concept of isolated can be expressed in a multitude of ways,” Karen said. “The overall image is like a cage with a sense of being trapped. It can also be interpreted as a series of windows, which is quite relevant after facing social isolation during lockdown.”

It’s not an obvious image. You have to come in really close.

Karen Waller APP MPhotog

Karen also acknowledged her photograph – taken in early March of 2020 – could be interpreted as a representation of cultural isolation, or domestic violence. “I enjoy the fact that the viewer will interpret the theme based on their own experiences,” she said.

Karen Waller, AIPP, Silver Linings Awards 2020
ABOVE: Karen Waller just announced as the Isolated category winner during the live Silver Lining Awards Presentation night on Thursday 30 July 2020. (Go to 0:55:10 to watch the Isolated category winner announcement)

And just before your mind takes you on a journey to any number of far off and exotic places Karen may have travelled to capture her winning photograph, we’ll spoil the fun – the image was captured on her front verandah!

“I had taken photographs of my daughter as viewed through the skeleton of a leaf,” Karen said.

“I sprayed the leaf with water as I was interested in the water droplets as part of the image. It was a few months later that I zoomed in on one of those images and saw her reflection in each tiny droplet. So, I then decided that I wanted to capture the actual reflection.”

An unexpected discovery lead to fervent experimentation with a macro lens and various materials to host the water droplets. “I had to repeat the process numerous times to, sort of, get some good results,” Karen said.

It was very much trial and error, but I felt that it was worth pursuing. It will probably be an ongoing exploration as I continue to find ways to capture more abstract portraits

Karen Waller APP MPhotog

“This image is important to me because it represents a determination to work at resolving an image despite the challenges,” Karen said. “It reminds me to keep challenging myself by finding ways to create images which may also fail.”

Fortuitously, Karen won a $1500 printing voucher with her existing print lab in Adelaide, Atkins. “It’s just up the road!” she said. “They are my lab and they’re amazing!”

“I’m so grateful to Atkins and to all the sponsors,” Karen said in excitement during her winner’s conversation cross during the live Presentation Night.

Atkins lab, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards
ABOVE: Thank you Atkins Lab for sponsoring first prize in the Abstract category

Congratulations to all Isolated category place-getters:

  • 2nd – Ben Kopilow
  • 3rd – Julie Mullock
  • 4th – Kris Anderson
  • 5th – Julie Mullock

Journeys – Brian Hodges

CATEGORY DESCRIPTION: Travel, culture, customs. Read the complete description HERE.

Brian Hodges, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards

“I’m very, very honoured. I just joined the AIPP last month so this is a wonderful inauguration!”

– Brian Hodges

What a way to be welcomed to a new community.

Travel and editorial photographer, Brian Hodges, started his own AIPP journey with quite a bang, winning first place in the Journeys category of the Silver Lining Awards.

“I deeply appreciate all the positive feedback this image has generated and am humbled…I must admit I’m surprised by the attention my work has generated.”

During the awards Presentation Night hosts, Rachel Callander and Tony Hewitt, connected live over the phone with Brian who was in the hinterland of Byron Bay with his wife and son.

Brian Hodges, Rachel Callander, Tony Hewitt, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Brian Hodges (right) spoke with Presentation Night hosts, Rachel Callander (left) and Tony Hewitt (middle), after winning the Journey category of the 2020 Silver Lining Awards. (Go to 1:03:50 to watch the Journeys category winner announcement)

“To make this photo, I did in fact have to go on quite a journey,” he said.

Brian’s image was taken in Gulu, rural Northern Uganda, around 50kms from the border of South Sudan.

“Every year, I donate two weeks of my time to work for a non-profit organisation called African Women Rising and they support – among other things – girls’ education.”

We usually spend several days documenting children and teachers in the local schools. My work is used to help the organisation raise funds to do their work.

– Brian Hodges

Brian has donated a two week stint each year since 2017. His winning image was photographed in October 2018.

When asked if his image was planned or spontaneous, Brian said it was a combination of the two.

It’s said that “luck favours the prepared.” I had no idea the teacher’s hand meeting the student’s hand would form a perfect frame. Nevertheless, I was trying the frame the shot of the student at the chalkboard with a foreground element.

– Brian Hodges

And Brian’s favourite part of the image? “I enjoy the poetry of the crossed legs of the student at the chalkboard and the gesture of the hands in the foreground,” he said.

“The foreground elements create depth to the image – indeed almost create a second image – and my eyes keep on going back and forth between the two.”

For his efforts, Brian won a Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera with a 24-70mm lens valued at $3999.

Nikon z6, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Thank you Nikon for generously sponsoring first prize in the Journeys category

Congratulations to all Journeys category place-getters:

  • 2nd – Diana Fernie
  • 3rd – Alex Huang
  • 4th – Karen Waller
  • 5th – Kelly Champion

Life – Karen Waller

CATEGORY DESCRIPTION: Editorial, street, documentary. Read the complete description HERE.

Karen Waller, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards

I love the way the skipping rope dissects the composition. I love the long shadows of the early morning. The colour version is vibrant but as a black and white, it reduces it to the essential and important elements.

Karen Waller APP MPhotog

The Life category top prize was the second to be received by Adelaide-based Master Photographer, Karen Waller, following her Isolated category win earlier in the evening.

Eizo, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards
ABOVE: Thank you Eizo for sponsoring the Life category in the inaugural Silver Lining Awards

Karen’s image – along with a second finalist image she had in the category – was captured while travelling in the Omo Valley in Southern Ethiopia early January 2020.

It was a trip Karen had planned for some 18 months prior – her first time overseas in 20 years – and an adventure that proved personally empowering.

I arrived in Ethiopia on the first day of 2020 which was really the beginning of a year like no other…My travel companion and guide was photographer Jayne McLean, who came second in this category. 

Karen Waller APP MPhotog
Karen Waller, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Another of Karen Waller’s finalist images in the Life category

“One of the places we visited toward the end of our trip was a Dassanech village of around 400 people close to the Kenyan border,” Karen said.

“The Dassanech people construct dome-shaped huts out of corrugated iron covered with animal hide and a frame made from branches. These wonderful structures can be seen in the background.”

Karen loved photographing the children of the village. “They have so little in terms of material possessions,” she said, “But they’re creative and make the most of what they can find. They’re joyful and exuberant, and I wanted to capture that.”

I am observing but also lost in a moment which takes me back to those uninhibited moments in my own childhood.

Karen Waller APP MPhotog
Karen Waller, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Karen experienced the joy of childhood once more when receiving her second winner’s title for the night during the Silver Lining Awards live Presentation Night

“My image of the young girls skipping made for a vibrant capture,” Karen said. But not in the literal sense.

“More recently I’ve been drawn to the reductive quality of black and white images,” she said. 

“There’s a sense of spontaneity and joy in this capture. It seeks to remind the viewer to embrace life and to do the thing you love. The images I entered into the awards, represent who I am as a photographer and artist,” said Karen. “They tell the story of how passionate I am about the creative process and capturing diverse subjects.”

Karen Waller, AIPP, Silver Linings Awards 2020
ABOVE: Karen Waller just announced as a category winner for the second time that evening, during the live Silver Lining Awards Presentation night on Thursday 30 July 2020. (Go to 1:21:30 to watch the Life category winner announcement)

Karen had an exceptionally successful Silver Lining Awards – arguably the most successful among all 526 entrants – not only as the winner of the Life and Isolated categories but having several other semi-finalist and finalist images across a diverse range of categories to boot.

I loved the challenge of the new category options in the awards and it was a great opportunity to consider entering images that worked well within the themes.

Karen Waller APP MPhotog

Karen purchased a Nikon Z7 mirrorless in preparation for her Ethiopian trip. “It was the perfect camera being both lightweight and the smaller size made it less obtrusive,” she said. The winning image was captured using the Nikkor S series 24-70mm F4 lens.

Congratulations to all Life category place-getters:

  • 2nd – Jayne McLean
  • 3rd – Kate Randall
  • 4th – Lynn Gail
  • 5th – Lynn Gail

Newcomer – Ruth Woodrow

CATEGORY DESCRIPTION: For members who are first-time entrants who had never entered previous AIPP state or national Awards. Newcomers could enter up to five entries per category in as many categories as they wish. Read the complete description HERE.

Ruth Woodrwo, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards

I never had any doubt that I would enter this image as the story it told is both deeply personal and also needed telling…It is a record of my experience of a point in time that will be marked down in history as a societal turning point.

– Ruth Woodrow

The winning image in the Newcomer category is a compilation of what photographer, Ruth Woodrow, calls ‘shoefies’ (aka shoe selfies).

‘Melbourne in Isolation’ is compiled of 256 individual photos taken during the three-month initial lockdown period (23 March-23 June 2020) around the suburbs within walking distance of Ruth’s home in South Melbourne.

“Since lockdown, Paul – my husband – and I have gone for a walk in our neighbourhood every day and I just started taking photos of my feet. With a lot of encouragement from Paul…and after about 600 images I thought that’s probably a good idea.”

Paul (Dodd) also enjoyed success in the Silver Lining Awards Newcomer category alongside Ruth, as both a finalist and semi-finalist.

ABOVE: Ruth’s husband and fellow AIPP Member, Paul Dodd, also enjoyed success in the Newcomer category of the Silver Lining Awards 2020. LEFT: Paul’s Semi-Finalist image. RIGHT: Paul’s Finalist image.

“When I found out that I would be working from home during lockdown,” Ruth said, “I decided that I was going to go for a walk every day for both my mental and physical wellbeing. During my walks I started noticing the various signs and markings on the ground.”

Photographing my feet with these signs and markings seemed to be a way that I could capture my experience of lockdown and isolation.

– Ruth Woodrow

“The walks were a real eye-opener to me,” Ruth said. “Without the distractions of people and traffic, I was seeing a lot of things as if for the first time. I was noticing things that I had never noticed before.”

Ruth initially thought her piece would be best suited to the Isolated category but its rules called for single source file images created in-camera so the Places category was the next best fit.

“Taking inspiration from the rainbow, I thought I could arrange the images from red through to violet,” Ruth said, “But what I discovered was that I didn’t have enough magentas and violets but I had heaps of grey, so my collage ended up fading from the rainbow through to grey, which talks to me of the gloss and excitement of early lockdown fading into what we need to think of as the new normal.”

Ruth Woodrow, Paul Dodd, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Places category winner, Ruth Woodrow, with husband and fellow AIPP member, Paul Dodd, enjoying news of the win during the live Presentation Night aired on Facebook Thursday 30 July 2020. (Go to 0:29:48 to watch the Places category winner announcement)

“No word of a lie,” said host, Tony Hewitt, “It’s one of my absolute favourite images…incredible and very poignant.”

“The beautiful thing about it is if you go right in close you truly start to see the message Ruth was trying to get across,” Tony said.

Ruth doesn’t disagree. “On one level, I just love the colours of the image and it just makes me happy, but it has the property of being able to delve into each sub-image and find so much detail and information,” she said.

Ruth photographed her ‘shoefies’ with a Leica Q2 and is currently working on a second collage in the series.

Sony, Kayell, Momento Pro, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Many thanks to Sony, Kayell and Momento Pro for sponsoring the Newcomer (and Student) category for the 2020 Silver Lining Awards

Congratulations to all Newcomer category place-getters:

  • 2nd – Brett Ferguson
  • 3rd – Victoria McNeill
  • 4th – Gaelle Le Barre
  • 5th – Robin Moon

Photo Illustration – Forough Yavari

CATEGORY DESCRIPTION: Digital artistry. Read the complete description HERE.

Forough Yavari, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards

This is someone that is still in lots of pain from loss. Not that they will ever be pain-free but they haven’t hit the bottom of the curve yet

– Forough Yavari APP MPhotog

Self-portrait submission ‘Solitude’ by Forough Yavari was the first of two titles the Brisbane-based photographer won in the inaugural Silver Lining Awards, followed later in the evening by Portrait (scroll down to see more.)

Forough was initially planning a personal project body paint shoot using a model when COVID restrictions thwarted the possibility.

“I suddenly found myself disconnected from the world and my family,” she said. “I was watching the news and hearing scary updates from where my mum lives.”

“Remembering the promise I gave to my dad in his last days to protect [my mum] and support her, it made me feel powerless, scared and helpless. The grief of losing my dad had ignited inside me once again.”

One of those days when I was feeling depressed I decided to paint myself, put the camera on timer and capture all the emotions I had. There was no plan to do anything with those photos, I just wanted to capture all my feelings.

– Forough Yavari APP MPhotog
Forough Yavari, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Forough Yavari when announced as the Photo Illustration category winner during the live Silver Lining Awards Presentation night on Thursday 30 July 2020. (Go to 1:29:55 to watch the Photo Illustration category winner announcement)

“Confronting loss is not easy – even impossible” Forough said.

“It takes you from being sad to calm, from feeling angry to facing loneliness. You try to avoid it and resist it, and even physically try to get away from it. But you can’t. It ages you and it hurts you,” Forough explained.

Her deeply personal self-portrait was not initially intended to be compiled in the way it ultimately was. Nor was the original plan to share any of the images.

I was going through all these [individual self-portrait] images and decided to do something with them – make an image to express all my feelings: fear of loss, feeling helpless, and confronting loss.”

– Forough Yavari APP MPhotog

The power in this image comes from the strong sense of communication despite any eye contact. As Forough explained, you can read all of the feelings and expression without actually seeing the eyes.

Fourough’s finished photo illustration piece consists of 13 photos all taken with a Nikon Z7 and Nikkor Z 50mm lens at 1/200, F8, ISO 200. Two lights were utilised: a beauty dish with diffuser on Broncolor Siros L as the main light, and an Octabox 150 with diffuser on Broncolor Siros L as the fill light.

Atkins Lab, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Thanks to Atkins Lab for sponsoring the Photo Illustration category with a $1500 printing voucher

Thank you everyone who worked so hard to make this awesome competition happen. We really appreciate it!

– Forough Yavari APP MPhotog

Congratulations to all Photo Illustration category place-getters:

  • 2nd – William Caroll
  • 3rd – Andrew Railton
  • 4th – Andrew Railton
  • 5th – Pamela Pauline

Places – Kris Anderson

CATEGORY DESCRIPTION: Built or natural landscape. Read the complete description HERE.

Kris Anderson, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards

The image is a little ambiguous and open to interpretation, but there is a narrative I had in mind. There are enough clues to suggest there’s a narrative to be found, but it’s ambiguous enough to let the viewer draw their own conclusions and ask their own questions….What do you see?

– Kris Anderson APP MPhotogI

Canadian-born Brisbane-based Master photographer, Kris Anderson’s, winning image in the Places category was photographed in the Denver Art Museum in May 2018 during a week-long trip.

“I was there with some of my friends and doing my best to channel Steve Scalone,” Kris said respectfully tongue-in-cheek after being announced the winner ahead of Steve, “Then I turned it into something else.”

“He’s going to start channelling you mate!” replied host, Tony Hewitt.

Kris Anderson, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Hosts Rachel Callendar and Tony Hewitt congratulate Places category winner, Kris Anderson, during the live Silver Lining Awards Presentation night on Thursday 30 July 2020. (Go to 1:55:20 to watch the Places category winner announcement)

“It’s no secret I’m a Steve Scalone fan,” Kris said. “I tried to see through his eyes that day, at least a little bit. You can see from his work that he has the patience to wait for the right living element to travel through the frame in the right place, at the right time, to complete the composition.”

Steve Scalone, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Kris’ muse on the day he photographed his winning image was Master Photographer, Steve Scalone, whose image (pictured) ranked 5th place in the Places category

Kris describes the multi-level Denver Art Museum where he took the foundational shot for his winning image, as beautiful with lots of vantage points. He says it has a mix of natural and artificial light and few right angles that combine to create ample opportunities to make great images.

I have a questionable habit of getting distracted by the architecture in art galleries and ignoring the art!

– Kris Anderson APP MPhotogI

“It’s the kind of place where you’d find a camera-wielding Steve Scalone giggling like a little kid,” Kris said, “And I was doing my best to see things through his eyes! Got a lot of wonderful captures that day.”

When exploring his archives for possible Silver Lining Awards entries, Kris found the original capture of his winning image – straight out of camera – toned it and initially felt it was ready for submission.

“But in a category that allows substantial post-processing, [I thought] maybe that image wasn’t strong enough, and I should take the opportunity to build on the original capture and make something more competitive.”

Evidently, it pays to take a second look.

All of the elements in the final image came from the original capture: the cameras spying on the figure are repurposed floodlights moved to new positions and the cable conduits going up the wall are built from seams in the wall panels.

– Kris Anderson APP MPhotogI

Kris also advocates for the benefit of submitting your potential entries into the free Image Critique sessions. The Awards Committee hosted seven online critiques in the lead up to the awards and more than 450 AIPP members and 56 experienced judges took part.

AIPP Awards Committee Members 2020
ABOVE: Props to the AIPP Awards Committee for their tireless efforts in bringing the Silver Lining Awards – and all that came with them – to our community when we needed something to focus on and look forward to most. When meeting weekly online, you have to find ways to keep it fun and fresh! The AIPP Awards Committee – Top L – R: Craig Wetjen, Bill Bachman, Gary Cranitch. Middle L – R: Rochelle Morris, Carla Mahony, Robyn Campbell. Bottom: Tony Hewitt

Kris said he received valuable feedback at the Image Critiques (which included, perchance, suggestions from Steve Scalone) encouraging him to make the pops of colour more vibrant and tighten up the highlights on the lone figure’s face.

“This image lives or dies from the tones and the graduations,” Kris said.

Knowing, however, the judges would view submissions on calibrated monitors like his own EIZO CG-2730, Kris was confident they’d see the image as it was – without banding or excessive noise artefacts.

Epson, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Thank you Epson for sponsoring first prize in the Places category

Congratulations to all Places category place-getters:

  • 2nd – Fedrico Rekowski
  • 3rd – Fedrico Rekowski
  • 4th – Adam Williams
  • 5th – Steve Scalone

Portrait – Forough Yavari

CATEGORY DESCRIPTION: Portraits of people and/or pets and/or wild animals. Read the complete description HERE.

Forough Yavari, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards

This was from a series of portraits I took after the actual photo shoot. It was not planned beforehand or set out to create this particular portrait.

– Forough Yavari APP MPhotog

Portrait was the Silver Lining Awards’ most popular category in terms of number of entries with just under 700 images in the mix – equivalent to more than 20 percent of the entire competition’s submissions.

Brisbane fashion and contemporary portrait photographer, Forough Yavari, was named first-place getter with her poignant portrait titled, ‘I Have a Dream’ – a nod to the famous speech of the same name by American civil rights activist Dr Martin Luther King Jr calling for an end to racism.

Working on this image coincided with the protests in US and other parts of the world supporting human right equity.

– Forough Yavari APP MPhotog

Forough’s image was photographed on February 12 this year, around a month before lockdown. The subject is a model and mother of two originally from South Africa.

“We were talking about her experiences as a model and her dreams in fashion industry,” said Forough. “This led to discussing racism, poverty and some of the experiences she has had in her journey.”

Forough Yavari, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Forough Yavari just announced as the Portrait category winner during the live Silver Lining Awards Presentation night on Thursday 30 July 2020. (Go to 2:03:23 to watch the Portrait category winner announcement)

“After we finished the job,” Forough said, “I kindly asked her to stay a bit longer for some portraits. I usually do this with my clients when I see something in their expressions that I think might be worth exploring for some personal images,” Forough said.

“There are times that you do not need a motivation to make something,” Forough explained.

“Sometimes when you are in the middle of a shoot – a portrait, or fashion or even a street photography – you sense something, a feeling that might be coming from your unconscious; maybe from a movie you had watched before or a book you had read, or even a speech you had listened to once.”

– Forough Yavari APP MPhotog

The winning Portrait image was Forough’s favourite photo from the impromptu session.

“I just loved the woman’s expression, which was so pure,” she said. That, paired with the image’s silky low-key and monochrome tonal range – and the general timing in terms of social issues concurrently flaring around the world – crystallised the shot in Forough’s heart and mind.

The Portrait winning image was photographed in Forough’s studio with a Nikon Z7 + Nikkor Z 50mm lens, using a single light (Octabox 150 with diffuser on a Broncolor Siros L) at 1/200, f10 and ISO 100.

Olympus, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Thank you Olympus for sponsoring first prize in the Portrait category

Congratulations to all Portrait category place-getters:

  • 2nd – Karen Waller
  • 3rd – Charmaine Heyer
  • 4th – Amanda Neilson
  • 5th – Vicki Bell

Student – Anna Luscombe

CATEGORY DESCRIPTION: Students currently enrolled at registered Australian tertiary institutions could enter images into any category but were limited to a total of three entries. Read the complete description HERE.

Anna Luscombe, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards

2020 is proving to be an unnerving year – we started with severe drought, followed by devastating bushfires, then COVID. There had to be a silver lining somewhere. 

– Anna Luscombe

Photography Studies College student, Anna Luscombe, won first place in the Student category with her wintry landscape taken of Pendergast Hut at the base of Mt Buller summit.

Fittingly, Anna was on the mountain for the live cross announcement during the Presentation Night.

When my name was announced as a winner, to say I was shocked was an understatement! Flabbergasted would be have been more fitting.

– Anna Luscombe

“I spend every winter up at Mt Buller with my boys because they’re avid skiers. This is one of the huts on Mt Buller. I trekked out there with my husband during a snowstorm and took the photo,” she casually said.

Anna has been a regular at Mt Buller for some 17 years. From June-September for the last seven, Anna and her family have moved from their home in Melbourne to a Mt Buller residence. Her sons participate in professional ski training and attend the local school.

Anna Luscombe family, PSC, AIPP, Mt Buller
ABOVE: Anna and her husband, Peter, move to Mt Buller every winter with their three sons. (Source: PSC.)

I absolutely adore the mountains, they are my calm place, and snow provides an inner joy. I truly adore being in the snow. It doesn’t matter if there is a blizzard, blue skies, or snow flurries, I want to be out in it. 

– Anna Luscombe

Pendergast Hut was built in 1970 in honour of Mike Pendergast, a long-time Ski Rescue Service member.

“[It] is still used by Ski Patrol to store essential equipment for upper mountain rescues of which there have been many, at times for my own children,” Anna said.

“Most people simply ski past Pendergast Hut without so much as a sideways glance,” Anna explained.

“It’s the same for Ski Patrol, who have an essential presence but often go unnoticed…[They’re] similar to the hut: unassuming, isolated, and at times weathered, yet still providing a sense of calm, stability and protection. For me, Pendergast Hut is the essence of Ski Patrol.”

They quietly work in the background to maintain mountain safety for the thousands of people who enjoy the snow, and save lives. Ski Patrolling is a volunteer role and these men and women are a group of wonderful individuals giving up their time for others.

– Anna Luscombe

When preparing her image for Silver Lining Awards entry, Anna took advantage of the free Image Critique events.

“It was interesting during the live critique,” she said. “Four out of the five judges suggested that the snow drift to the right of the hut be deleted. One judge disagreed. This created a dilemma: do I listen to the majority or go with my gut and the opinion of a single judge?”

I went with my gut. I felt that the snow drift gave the image depth and without it, the image would be just a hut on a white background. The snow drift provided an anchor, a reference point and gave the image meaning.

– Anna Luscombe
Anna Luscombe, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards
ABOVE: One of Anna’s sons – and earlier an excited niece – joined Anna on-screen during her winner’s live cross for the Silver Lining Awards Presentation night on Thursday 30 July 2020. (Go to 0:37:12 to watch the Student category winner announcement)

“The image was part of a series, all taken on the same day,” Anna said – a series of minimalist landscapes with a single hero element.

“I had planned this image in my mind for a while but was waiting for the perfect snow storm,” she said.

And so it rolled in on a morning in June 2020.

“When it arrived, I lost no time in hiking up to the hut with my camera gear, positioning myself in the spot I knew I needed to be, and clicking the shutter. I did take a couple of extra images from varying angles but already knew that the first shot was the strongest.”

“I wanted the image to have a sense of drama but also permanence and calm,” Anna said.

“I feel that there are too many distractions in the form of [flora] when there is no snow…it was important that the hut and weather were the heroes of the image. The snow covered the ground with a blank canvas and the storm did the same for the sky.”

Sony, Kayell, Momento Pro, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Many thanks to Sony, Kayell and Momento Pro for sponsoring the Student (and Newcomer) category for the 2020 Silver Lining Awards

“I want to say thanks to all the organisers, the sponsors and particularly to all the other students who submitted photos because everyone’s got such a strong standard.”

– Anna Luscombe

PSC Managing Director, Julie Moss, was thrilled by Anna’s success. “We are so proud of Anna and all the other PSC students who were finalists and semi-finalists in this year’s AIPP Silver Lining Awards,” she said.

“In the midst of what is such a challenging year for everyone, this is such wonderful news!” 

Congratulations to all Student category place-getters:

  • 2nd – Kristie Owen
  • 3rd – Eunie Kim
  • 4th – Asif Hussein
  • 5th – Joshua Lee

Wild – Scott Portelli

CATEGORY DESCRIPTION: The natural world: flora, fauna, wild places. Read the complete description HERE.

Scott Portelli, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards, Whales

I was looking for something unique; something I hoped the judges had not seen before and something that provoked an emotional response.

– Scott Portelli APP MPhotog

Wildlife underwater photographer, Scott Portelli, won the Wild category with a photograph he was initially unsure of. “It was one I was going to sit on for a few years,” he said, “Until I decided what I wanted to do with it.”

I was still in two minds about releasing this image publicly, but thought it might be the type of image that talks to others as much as it speaks to me.

– Scott Portelli APP MPhotog

We’re grateful you didn’t sit on it for too long, Scott!

The rare encounter with false killer whale mother and calf duo took place in the South Pacific towards the end of July 2019.

“We don’t understand their language but a level of mutual acceptance transcends these barriers and sheer curiosity gets the better of both species,” Scott said.

“I’ve spent more than 20 years in the presence of marine mammals and it is a privilege to be able to experience and capture a moment like this.”

Scott and his wife tuned into the live Silver Lining Awards Presentation Night while sitting in their boat in a campsite at the Great Australian Bight. “Rather than put our tent up we thought we’d just sleep in the boat!” Scott said.

Scott Portelli, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Wild category winner, Scott Portelli, with his wife enjoying news of his first place win during the live Presentation Night aired on Facebook Thursday 30 July 2020. (Go to 1:12:58 to watch the Places category winner announcement)

Scott lives in New South Wales but he and his wife got stuck in South Australia for five months due to COVID border closures.

Scott Portelli, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Scott and his wife still smiling though unable to get home for five months due to COVID border closures

“I wanted this image to tell a story and reveal the narrative as the viewer looked deeper at each element. A protective mother, a cautious newborn, a reminder that these are air breathing mammals.”

Scott explained as a specialist in his field he’s keenly looking for and reading behavioural cues that often indicate intention or communication.

“I noticed the adult keeping the young calf under her pectoral fins while making a loud sequence of whistles and clicks and simultaneously letting out a stream of bubbles,” he said.

“There were so many behavioural triggers that indicated the mother was being specific in her actions. As she passed beneath me, I wanted to capture the sleek shape of this rare whale and the curvature of the body that was only accentuated by a stream of air bubbles bending in the deep ocean below,” said Scott.

It was a special encounter in so many ways but to capture such a unique composition and be able to reveal the story as it was unfolding, was one of the most humbling experiences.

– Scott Portelli APP MPhotog

Numerous natural elements combined to result in what Scott describes as a beautiful and aesthetically pleasing moment. Alas, the judges agreed.

“I love all the elements: sleek bodies of the false killer whales, the tones of their liquid space environment, a glimpse of the mother’s eye as she turns slightly, and the perfect symmetry of mother and calf’s tail,” Scott said.

“It’s not easy to plan a shot like this. It was a moment where everything aligned. As a wildlife and underwater photographer if you put yourself in the environment long enough, you’re rewarded with these special moments,” said Scott.

Scott Portelli, AIPP, Underwater photographer
ABOVE: Underwater and wildlife photographer, Scott Portelli, as photographed by Michaela Sovranova

If given the chance to change anything about the image, Scott wouldn’t do it.

“I believe in showing the audience the moment as I saw it, whether there are particles and debris in the water or looking at the few frames I shot either side of this for subtle variations,” he said. “I feel this is the way the image speaks to me and I would not do it justice to change it. Although I am open to suggestion from the judges!”

Scott photographed the whales using Seacam housing on his Canon 1DX MKII with 8-15mm lens at f4, 1/320 and ISO320. He has a self-proclaimed affinity with the ocean.

“Much of my underwater work centres around capturing unique behaviour and documenting natural events with an underlying message of conservation and protection of our oceans and these amazing creatures,” he said.

If any of my images inspire others to act, then it has been worthwhile.

– Scott Portelli APP MPhotog
Camera Electronic, DJI Mavic Air 2, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards 2020
ABOVE: Many thanks to Camera Electronic for sponsoring the Wild category for the 2020 Silver Lining Awards. Let’s see if Scoot can’t go from underwater to overhead!

Congratulations to all Wild category place-getters:

  • 2nd – Joshua Holko
  • 3rd – Joshua Holko
  • 4th – Diana Fernie
  • 5th – Vikki Siliato

And That’s a Wrap

Thank you for joining us for this epic adventure through the winning images of our inaugural Silver Lining Awards – and the photographers behind them.

Congratulations to the 12 winners, the finalists, semi-finalists, and every member who participated!

As AIPP National President, Louise Bagger said, the Silver Lining Awards provided us with a wonderful opportunity to connect, real-time, as a community during what has been a very challenging year.

The Awards Committee deserve special mention for their tireless efforts, countless hours, and typically unseen work in putting this extensive awards program together, inclusive of image critiques and feedback sessions.

Thank you Tony, Robyn, Bill, Craig and Gary.

And, of course, to our sponsors and prize donors – without whom there can be no awards: thank you for your generosity and ongoing support.

AIPP Silver Lining Sponsors 2020
ABOVE: We’re forever grateful to our AIPP Silver Lining Sponsors for their generous support

We look forward to seeing and serving you all at our next awards.


Winners’ quotes and comments were gathered for this piece by awards administrator, Carla Mahony. Thank you for your time and effort across the awards as a whole, and to the winners for their contributions. Thanks also to Matt Palmer, Head of Creative and Admin Lead, for the work you put in to help run and brand the Silver Lining Awards.


More to Come

You can hear more from SLA Finalists at the Inside the Silver Lining online sessions, running on Wednesday 19 and 26 August. These events are open to the public and free to attend. Book your ticket now!

Forough Yavari, AIPP, Silver Lining Awards

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