Blue Mountains artists in running for National Photographic Portrait Prize

Two Blue Mountains photographers have made the final cut for this year’s National Photographic Portrait Prize – out of a staggering 3,113 entries.

Jodi McConaghy and Rachel Peachey will have their work featured in the prestigious prize at the National Portrait Galley in Canberra.

Their respective photographs, Bum fluff and Taking the waters, are among the 40 finalists in the running to be crowned winner of this year’s prize.

“I wanted to create a portrait of my 14-year-old son before he shaved his facial hair for the first time,” said McConaghy, who lives in Hazelbrook.

“My son is slowly morphing from childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood. To me, this image captures the last vestiges of his innocence, his trust in me as a photographer and mother, his youthful face and physique, but also his ever-growing maturity and individuality.”

When asked about her portrait, Peachey, from Katoomba, said the little boy in the photograph is playing in the Salzano River near the village of Sottochiesa in Northern Italy.

“We were involved in a mixed art/science residency there, looking at the industrial-scale commercialisation of water. We were particularly interested in the projection of magical properties onto the nearby San Pellegrino spring over the last few hundred years, which allowed a global enterprise to develop. Despite all that context, the little boy seemed more effortlessly connected in time and place to the ideas we were interested in, through his natural and unscripted play. It was beautiful!”

The two Blue Mountains artists will be guests at the National Portrait Gallery on February 22 for an exclusive event to announce this year’s prize winners. The winning photographer will receive $30,000 in cash and $22,148 in photographic equipment.

Winners or not, the photographs will be displayed along with the other 38 finalists in an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from February 23 – April 7, with the show then touring to a number of interstate regional galleries.

Now in its 12th year, the National Photographic Portrait Prize is a perennial favourite amongst Portrait Gallery visitors. The prize reflects the distinctive vision of Australia’s aspiring and professional portrait photographers and the unique nature of their subjects, attracting thousands of entries from all over the nation.

Blue Mountains residents can get behind Jodi McConaghy and Rachel Peachey by voting for their portraits in the National Photographic Portrait Prize People’s Choice Award. Voting can be done online at from February 23–March 24.