Teenage Ballarat photographer Ellie Meade is among high company, named last week as a finalist in the prestigious Martin Kantor Portrait Prize among some of the most highly regarded portrait photographers in Australia.
Ellie's portrait of Melbourne Cup winning strapper Stevie Payne was among 28 finalists revealed for the $15,000 Martin Kantor Photography Prize, held every two years at the Ballarat International Foto Biennale.
"The Melbourne Cup win allowed the world to see a young man with a disability doing his job at an elite level," Ellie wrote in her entry.
"For my portrait, instead of a studio, I chose to photograph Stevie at his home. I wanted him to feel relaxed in his own environment, which helped to bring out his funny and cheeky personality and he was a more than willing model."
Being named as a finalist in the awards is another step toward a professional photography career for Ellie.
Earlier this year, the former Loreto College student won the people's choice award for the Next Gen exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, receiving the highest number of votes during the three-month exhibition which featured 50 inspiring works from 44 young artists who graduated from secondary school last year.
She is now studying photography at Oxygen College in Ballarat, working at Thornton Richards Camera House and working as a freelance photographer.
"I would like to be a fashion and editorial photographer," she said. "I do freelance work with some models in Melbourne, I've got work for some brands and a Ballarat business has lined me up to do some fashion work."
Ellie chose to present her portrait of Stevie Payne in black and white, which sheds light on some of her personal beliefs.
"The images being black and white represents equality between people with and without disabilities, symbolising that we are all humans that can achieve amazing things."
The BIFB Martin Kantor Portrait Prize is named in honour of the late portrait photographer Martin Kantor, known for his arresting portraits of artists like Iggy Pop, Howard Arkley, painter Adam Cullen, conceptual artist Dale Frank and Hunters and Collectors lead singer Mark Seymour.
The prize is given for a work considered to be an exceptional photographic portrait of a significant, living Australian, distinguished in art, letters, science politics, or sport.
This year's shortlisted works include portraits of celebrated author Helen Garner, Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt, human rights advocate and ASRC founder Kon Karapanagiodis, legendary Indigenous actor David Gulpilil, Serwah Gyekyewah Attafuah, lead singer of anti-colonial death metal band DISPOSSESSED, singer Paul Kelly, and a strikingly unconventional portrait of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
The 28 shortlisted works will be exhibited at this year's Ballarat International Foto Biennale, which runs from August 23 to October 20. The prize winner will be announced on August 25.
BIFB director Fiona Sweet said there were more than 200 entries for the prestigious prize, up from 80 when it was last held in 2017, which judges whittled down to the 28 finalists.
"The breadth of finalists is noticeably broader this year which indicates more photographers working harder to really deliver a great artwork," she said.