Nikon-Walkley Photography Finalists announced

A look at the finalists’ photographs

Grant Trouville’s “50 Years of Tears” has been named the winner of the 2017 Nikon-Walkley Photo of the Year Prize.

Finalists for 2017 Nikon-Walkley Awards for Excellence in Photojournalism and the Walkley Documentary Award were announced tonight at State Library New South Wales.

The Nikon-Walkley Awards for Excellence in Photojournalism recognise the work of photographers across a range of genres, from news and sport to portraiture and photographic essays. This exhibition lets us reflect on the year in news, through the individual worldviews and skilled lenses of Australia’s best photographers.

Here’s a look at photographs by the finalists. The finalists’ photographs will be toured around the nation in a series of free public exhibitions and are currently on display at the State Library of NSW and will be on display from Saturday at the ABC in Brisbane. Below you can see the hero image from each entry, but in many cases the entry comprises multiple images. You can see all of them at the exhibition!

Winners will be announced November 29 at the 62nd Annual Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism.

WINNER (Photo of the Year Prize)

Grant Trouville, Premiers: 2016 Sharks Photo Album, and
Cronulla Sharks captain Paul Gallen embraces with club legend and former captain Andrew Ettingshausen after winning the 2016 Premiership, the first Premiership in the club’s 50 year history. No words were exchanged to show the significance of this historic win… only tears.

On the victors’ stage after the 2016 NRL grand final, Cronulla Sharks captain Paul Gallen told fans “turn your porch lights off, because we are coming home with the trophy.” He was referencing legendary league coach Jack Gibson’s immortal gag, that “waiting for Cronulla to win a premiership is like leaving the porch lamp on for Harold Holt.”

The Sharks faithful had endured 49 long years without lifting the trophy, so when Gallen embraced club legend and former captain Andrew Ettinghausen after grinding out the Melbourne Storm 14–12, the tears flowed freely between the big men. Many photographers were there to capture it, but as our judges said, “this is the shot. It’s full of emotion and iconically Australian.”

Photographer Grant Trouville says: “This image shows the outpouring of emotion from the last 50 years for the Cronulla Sharks. The two greatest ever players to put on the Sharks jersey coming together. A thankyou from the former captain and club legend to the current captain. The trophy cabinet will never be empty again.”



Finalist: Alex Ellinghausen, Fairfax Media
Players tidy up their hair after removing their caps for a team photo with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for the Prime Minister’s XI cricket match against Sri Lanka at Manuka Oval in Canberra.

The judges said: This is a portfolio that’s strong and balanced in its range of stories, styles and subjects. It’s work that says “I can do anything across the board. Send me on a job and I’ll do it well.”

Alex Ellinghausen’s submitted body of work illustrates stories from across Australia: from Indigenous leadership, to farms devastated by bushfire, sporting moments, refugees and the Australian Parliament. He captured highs and lows from our politicians — Larissa Waters’ groundbreaking breastfeeding in public; and when One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson wore a burqa to Question Time in the Senate following which, Attorney-General George Brandis rebuked her for labelled her actions a “stunt”. In a lighter, unguarded moment — impeccably timed — a team of Australian cricket players hastily preen their hair after removing their caps moments before their official photo with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for the Prime Minister’s XI cricket match.

Finalist: Kate Geraghty, Fairfax Media
Abdulrahman Abdulaaly (18) with burns to 60% of his body, lies in the ICU at Athba Field Hospital 15km from the front lines in West Mosul. Abdulrahman succumbed to his injuries on Saturday the first of July, four days after this photo was taken. Abdulrahman did not know if he was hit by an airstrike or a suicide bomber. He is one of three sons in the family all of who have died in separate violent incidents since Islamic State took over Mosul in 2014. His mother was with him when he died.

These images over the past year cover major news events, social affairs and feature portraits from the frontlines of Mosul, the war on drugs in the Philippines, the South Sudan crisis and Australian Vietnam veterans who have retired to their old battlegrounds.

“As a result of months of planning and research I travelled twice to cover the battle of Mosul in Iraq. Under extreme conditions I photographed airstrikes over the Old City, people fleeing, including the injured like Tabarek who lay on the ground holding her wound concealed under her dress. I wanted to put a human face to the survivors and victims of three years under ISIS. I was honoured to talk with 18-year-old Abdulrahman who was being treated for 60% burns and sadly succumbed to his wounds four days later. Through images of Iraqi soldiers patrolling ruined streets and guarding oil wells set on fire by IS fighters I wanted to capture the carnage that is left in the wake of conflict.”

The judges said: “Geraghty is a global storyteller. She just gets in there, whatever the story. She has a really good eye for light — the way it plays on someone’s face or through a doorway. Her images have beautifully thought-through composition and lighting.”

Finalist: Andrew Quilty, The New York Times and The Washington Post
A little over an hour from the Afghan capital Kabul, in the province of Logar, which is heavily contested by Government and Taliban forces, students from a private school in the district of Muhammad Agha sing the Afghan national anthem during an assembly outside the main building — for the benefit of their visitors from The Wall Street Journal.

Andrew Quilty’s body of work represents a cross section of events large and small across Afghanistan; from the aftermath of a truck bombing in Kabul that killed more than 150 civilians, to students singing the national anthem in a school assembly in Logar Province.

The judges said: “Afghanistan is where Andrew Quilty lives and works. There’s an immediacy to these images. He has a sympathetic but unflinching eye. With some photographers you feel a sense of distance, of remove. But Quilty is a photographer you can feel he wants to be there, up close. He gets proximity to his subjects and his stories.”


A police officer points his gun at a woman at a home in Manoora. She faces no charges.
Finalist: Justin Brierty, The Cairns Post,“Don’t Shoot”

Justin Brierty’s chief-of-staff had sent him to a McDonald’s to cover a robbery, but he arrived to find the crime scene had been cleared. He was on his way back to the office when he overheard on the police scanner that police had located a vehicle involved in the robbery and were waiting nearby for backup.

“Initially I had remained in the car, however when I heard the lady scream, I got out and fired away several images to capture the policeman pointing his gun at the lady’s chest, and the look of horror on her face. Eventually after about 3–4 minutes, police noticed me and were quite surprised that I had managed to capture the event that just unfolded. When I searched the timeline of my images, the raid took approximately 45 seconds,” said Brierty.

The judges said: “This single frame had immediate impact as a shot where the news story is apparent in the picture. It’s a cracking spot news image of an incredible moment. The photographer anticipated the moment and was waiting to capture this. It’s pure news: a real, one-off news picture.”

Finalist: Kate Geraghty, The Sydney Morning Herald,“Philippine Drug Wars”
Prisoners inside a cell in Manila Police Headquarters, Philippines. So they can sleep, prisoners here rotate positions throughout the cell every two hours due to overcrowding. Several of the men stated that most in this cell were arrested for drug use.

Since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared a war on illegal drugs at his inauguration on June 30, 2016, approximately 8,000 people have been killed in a murderous campaign by police and vigilantes. Duterte urged citizens to kill suspected criminals and drug addicts and authorised a shoot-to-kill policy for police carrying out the “Oplan Tokhang” campaign of knocking on doors and pleading with drug suspects to end their drug use and surrender.

Fearing for their lives, over a million drug users and pushers have surrendered to police, causing a surge in prison populations. The Philippine penal system is the third most congested in the world. Since July 2016, the nation’s jails are crammed with nearly five times more inmates than they were built to hold.

Kate Geraghty says: “These images were taken on two trips to the Philippines documenting the drug-related killings and overcrowding in the prisons. Night after night I crawled the city of Manila photographing the crime scenes, gaining access to prisons and morgues where unidentified EJK victims lay full of bullet holes and signs of torture, their families not knowing their loved ones had died.”

The judges said: “Composition-wise these are beautiful pictures to look at, even though it’s a horrific story. Geraghty has worked magic with a real range of lighting conditions, none of them easy to work with. It’s a window on a brutal reality you don’t expect.”

Finalist: James Wiltshire, The Border Mail and The Age, “Face of Evil”
Michael Cardamone enters the Wangaratta Court on the day that he is sentenced to life behind bars with no parole by Supreme Court judge Justice Lex Lasry. Justice Lasry said that “sometimes a crime is so horrific, so cruel and so callous, that a step towards mercy becomes too difficult to take”.

Michael Cardamone was sentenced to life behind bars with no parole for the violent and disturbing murder of his neighbour, Karen Chetcuti, a Victorian mother.

The case devastated the local town of Whorouly and the greater Wangaratta district community, and they held rallies for Karen and to denounce violence against women.

Photographer James Wiltshire prepared to get his shot of the accused, but there were no guarantees. In his own words: “Court photos are not the easiest things to nail.” Wiltshire had to factor in the movement of the sun, and knew he’d have to focus manually to capture the subject through two chainwire fences. There was also the possibility the subject wouldn’t even look up.

“My reporter raced over to see what I had and we were overcome with relief to see this image come up on the back of the camera. Those eyes, staring straight through the holes in the chain wire. His eyes honestly burnt onto my brain and I couldn’t get them out of my head for the rest of the day.”


Finalist: Scott Barbour, Getty Images,“Split Second”
Marc Marquez (Spain / Repsol Honda Team) crashes out of the 2016 MotoGP of Australia at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.

Every sport photographer knows the power of the split second. As does every athlete, for that matter. A split second can mean the difference between victory and defeat, ecstasy and agony, heartbreak and triumph. Working with high-speed action, a range of light, weather and locations, Scott Barbour’s portfolio captures key moments in a style the judges praised as “incredibly graphic”.

Whether using a long telephoto lens for exquisite focus on a high jumper against a vibrant background, or framing MotoGP bikes to look like tiny toys against heavy clouds rolling over the horizon at Phillip Island, Barbour knows how to make a peak moment pop.

Of his hero image, “Marc Marquez Crash”, Barbour said: “Newly crowned world champion Marc Marquez was expected to easily win the Australian Grand Prix when he started from pole position, but amazingly he crashed out on lap 10. The biggest moment of the weekend happened right in front of me and I didn’t miss it.”

Ryan Pierse, Getty Images, El Pais Magazine, Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald, “Sport portfolio”
At a Sydney Swans AFL training session at Sydney Cricket Ground, player Zak Jones sports stitches after a heavy clash in the previous weekend’s match.

Ryan Pierse’s portrait of Sydney Swans player Zak Jones staring down the camera with a face stitched and scarred is the centerpiece of a striking portfolio. There’s a range of sports and photography styles, from portrait to hard action, aerial and slow shutter photography.

An eye for unexpected images found favour with the judges. “Pierse is technically gifted and seeks out unusual moments. He doesn’t just see the sporting moments, he sees everything and takes advantage of the small opportunities. These are beautifully executed. The portrait in particular says a lot about sport. It says warrior.”

Finalist: Grant Trouville, Premiers: 2016 Sharks Photo Album, and,“50 Years of Tears”
Cronulla Sharks captain Paul Gallen embraces club legend and former captain Andrew Ettingshausen after winning the 2016 Premiership, the first Premiership in the club’s 50 year history. No words were exchanged to show the significance of this historic win… only tears.

After 49 years of misery, misfortune and missed opportunities, the 2017 Cronulla Sharks managed a feat that no team to wear the sky blue before them had done. They took home their first ever premiership with a 14–12 win over the Melbourne Storm.

Grant Trouville was there to capture the moment Sharks captain Paul Gallen wordlessly hugged former Cronulla captain Andrew Ettinghausen. He described the moment:

“This image shows the outpouring of emotion from the last 50 years for the Cronulla Sharks. The two greatest ever players to put on the Sharks jersey coming together. A thankyou from the former captain and club legend to the current captain. The trophy cabinet will never be empty again.”

The judges found the black-and-white image “just beautiful”.

“From the first moment of judging we were struck by it. It’s a key sporting moment, totally newsworthy. But it also transcends sport. The story is clear.”


Finalist: Kate Geraghty, The Sydney Morning Herald, “Liberation of Mosul”
Fifteen-year-old Tabarek, who is wounded and can no longer walk, lies at the feet of her family as they rest for a few moments before making their way along a safe corridor during the offensive to retake West Mosul, Iraq. Tabarek was wounded when hit by mortar shrapnel and then treated by an Islamic State doctor. She was on a saline drip for a month and received no food.

The judges described this series as “graphic, arresting work” that doesn’t flinch from the horror of Mosul. “Geraghty puts you in the street where this is happening.”

In her own words, Kate Geraghty says:

“The battle of Mosul has been the biggest moment in the international effort to crush Islamic State. As a photojournalist focusing most of my career on Iraq and its people, I felt compelled to show the impact and put a human face to this conflict.

“In extreme conditions I joined the Iraqi Special Forces as they moved through devastated streets close to the frontlines where the last of the human shields were fleeing the remaining pockets of Islamic State held areas in West Mosul.

“As coalition airstrikes, IS snipers and suicide bombers found their targets nearby, I witnessed the harrowing scenes of civilians spilling out of the carnage looking for safety. Finally free, they were traumatised and gaunt. Some collapsing from sheer exhaustion to be picked up by Iraqi soldiers. Some, like 15-year-old Tabarek, crying in pain, her red dress obscuring a mortar wound to her stomach, which had reopened. Others were elated, like the smiling wounded man, wrapped in a blanket accompanied by his father on top of a humvee, thanking soldiers for rescuing them.”

Finalist: Jake Nowakowski, Herald Sun, “Rise of the Right”
A woman from the Far Right Resistance wears a swastika necklace at an Australian Pride March — organised by the True Blue Crew and other associated far right groups — at the Carlton Gardens.

The judges described Jake Nowakowski’s series as “raw and visceral”. As he documents the rise of far-right, nationalistic, anti-Islamic and anti-refugee groups and the demonstrations where they amass, the details are powerful: a swastika necklace, a police officer guiding an old woman through crowds, a man pointing aggressively with one hand and gripping a walking stick in the other.

“It captures what it’s like to be in the scene, and they’re challenging situations to shoot in. Nowakowski has positioned himself well to get each shot, and every image is telling a story, drilling down into the issues. Every image is strong,” said the judges.

Nowakowski says “Melbourne has become a battlefield of ideologies as these groups often clash with anti racist groups while holding rallies and counter-protests.”

Finalist: Sam Ruttyn, The Sunday Telegraph, “Lion Heart Leo”
Four-year-old Leo Hendricks arrives at The Children’s Hospital in Westmead for lifesaving heart surgery. Leo suffers from a “hypoplastic left heart” which means structural problems affect his circulation. Left untreated, this condition is deadly.

Sam Ruttyn’s moving photo essay depicts Leo Hendricks, four, undergoing lifesaving open heart surgery at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in November of 2016.

“It was a project I worked on for several months. It was published in The Sunday Telegraph both in print on the front page and online with a picture gallery and video.

“This visual essay tells Leo’s story, beginning with his arrival on the morning of surgery, followed by the operation itself and then throughout his recovery in the hospital, before finishing with Leo enjoying the summer weather in the front yard of his Western Sydney home.”

The judges said: “What an amazing essay. You’re told a story right from the beginning, you don’t need words to understand. It’s a heartbreaker, but then you see him so happy in the end. It’s simple and strong.”

Winners are also announced for three photography prizes.


Winner: Alex Ellinghausen, The Sydney Morning Herald, “Manus Torture”
Sudanese refugee Abdul Aziz Muhamat, 25, who has been on Manus Island for 3 1/2 years and is currently in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

Sudanese refugee Abdul Aziz Muhamat is 25, and has been detained on Manus Island for three-and-a-half years. He thinks life is tougher on Manus Island than the country he fled: “Back there, when people torture you, they torture you and put a bullet in your head and it’s over. Here it’s like systematic torture, mental torture that doesn’t end.”

Photographer Alex Ellinghausen went to Port Moresby with journalist Michael Gordon to investigate the situation on Manus Island, five months after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that the US had agreed to resettle refugees being held in PNG and on Nauru. They interviewed refugees in their police cells, painting a picture of tension and anxiety among the detainee population just before violence engulfed the centre on Good Friday.

The judges praised the technical control of lighting, composition and framing that Ellinghausen used to captivate the viewer. “An incredibly strong image with technical skill and a powerful story to tell. It’s got an emotive, pensive quality that draws you in and makes you want to read the full story. There’s sufficient depth of field to keep his fuzzy beard in focus, and his eyes are beautiful. It asks a question, and draws you in. That’s what a great picture should do.”


Winner: Marina Neil, Maitland Mercury, Newcastle Herald and Port Stephens Examiner, “Portfolio of work”
Oh Paddle Pop, It’s Hot! Three-year-old Nataliya Smith and sister Laila devour a cool treat at the Newcastle Ocean Baths.

Marina Neil has worked for Fairfax Media for more than 13 years, at The Canberra Times, Newcastle Herald, Sydney Morning Herald and more recently, community papers including the Maitland Mercury, Port Stephens Examiner and the Cessnock Advertiser. This portfolio shows the diversity of a regional photographer’s job: from bushfires and police standoffs to heatwaves and rugby league.

Just how do you illustrate a heatwave? Neil’s eye was caught by a flash of colour: three-year-old Nataliya Smith’s red hair blazing against the blues of the Newcastle Baths. Photographers often have to work fast, but when there’s an ice cream involved on a 40 degree day, you really have your work cut out for you. When Nataliya’s sister joined the frame with a fast-softening paddlepop, Neil had her moment: “I took a about eight more frames before the paddle pop was devoured. The shot was in the bag… the melting drips of chocolate sum up the heat we experienced this summer”.

It wasn’t all afternoons at the pool; Neil covered several bushfires in the Hunter region, particularly after an arsonist was setting fires around Kurri Kurri.


Winner: Alex Ellinghausen, The Sydney Morning Herald, “Breastfeeding in the Senate”
Larissa Waters breastfed her 14-week-old daughter, Alia Joy, as she moved a motion on black lung disease in the Senate at Parliament House in Canberra. Greens Leader Richard Di Natale plays with Alia Joy and carries her out of the Senate chamber.

It was a historic moment when Larissa Waters moved a motion on black lung disease in the Senate in June 2017, because she did so while breastfeeding her 14-week-old daughter Alia Joy. She was the first woman to breastfeed in the Australian Parliament.

Alex Ellinghausen felt the significance of the moment: “The support she received from her colleagues, including the leader of her party, Senator Richard Di Natale, demonstrated Parliament trying to become a more modern workplace and it also came at a time of continued debate about the numbers of women in Parliament.

“Larissa Waters was co-deputy leader of the Greens at that time and it showed a political party willing to promote a new mother, which reflects a broader debate about more flexible working conditions for parents.”

The judges said “This is a slice of Australian life, and incredibly topical,” and they praised Ellinghausen’s eye for the significance of the story.

“A lot of the photographers in the press gallery would have got that shot, but Ellinghausen has seen it as a full story and followed it all the way through, followed them out the door to complete the narrative. It’s very well shot but it’s as much the editing that makes the story as the photography. He recognised it as an incredibly important moment in history and told the story in a way that does it justice.”

Many thanks to this year’s Nikon-Walkley Judges:

  • Sandra Jackson, picture editor, The West Australian
  • Lorrie Graham, photographer
  • Moshe Rosenzveig, director, Head On Photo Festival
  • Earle Bridger, senior lecturer, Griffith University Photojournalism
  • Jonny Weeks, picture editor, Guardian Australia

The Nikon-Walkley Press Photography Exhibition will be toured around the nation in a series of free public exhibitions and are currently on display at the State Library of NSW and will be on display at the ABC in Brisbane from this Saturday.

The Walkleys thank Nikon for its support of the photography awards and prizes.

For media enquiries, including requests to reprint finalists’ photos online or in print, Helen Sullivan, communications manager, Walkley Foundation, or +61 431 233 864