Blackheath photograph wins Georgia Brogan top prize

A former Blackheath resident was recently announced as the winner of the prestigious Australian Life photography prize - with a photo taken in the Upper Mountains town last year.

Nineteen-year-old Georgia Brogan was named the winner of the competition, which is run by the City of Sydney, in September. Brogan's achievement is made all the more remarkable by the fact she is the competition's youngest ever entrant.

The winning photo, appropriately titled Youth, shows Brogan's then-11-year-old sister Giselle in the backseat of a car on a typically gloomy winter's evening in Blackheath during lockdown in 2020. One of the prize's judges, photographer Trent Parke said: "The colours and look of the image are nostalgic and romantic - it's absolutely beautiful. Every time I see it, I want to put it on the cover of a book. I absolutely love it."

Brogan spent her childhood in Blackheath and attended Blackheath Primary School. Her father and sister still live in the town, while she is based in Stanmore in Sydney's Inner West as she studies film at University of Technology, Sydney.

"Youth was taken on a particularly foggy night in Blackheath," Brogan told the Gazette. "I had spent chunks of time across the year with my father and sister in Blackheath as I was studying online.

"The night I took Youth, we were all sitting in the car off the Great Western Highway. It was a typical photographic outing, in which I had bribed my sister with promises of trampolining to come and be my muse for some photos. The image was not planned as I find I work best spontaneously, relying on my intuition.

"The light was arranged in a delicate yet cinematic way, and I took advantage of it. That is a huge aspect of why I love photography so much - the way in which special, unplanned moments are everywhere, waiting to be captured, if only you choose to look for them."

Youth was selected as the winner from 28 finalists, and has earned Brogan a cash prize of $10,000.

"Winning the prize was an unexpected thrill and a huge honour," she said. "I was in incredible company with the 27 other finalists, all of whom are extremely talented and an inspiration to me moving forward."

Brogan hopes to develop her photography career in the coming years, as well as experiment with documentary film and writing projects.

"It has also been affirming hearing the judges' supportive comments towards my work and motivates me to continue honing my individual photographic style."