CANBERRA (REUTERS).- An Australian art teacher's photograph of a young Aborigine who was once his student won the country's top photo portrait prize, with judges praising the black-and-white image's intimacy and power.
Scott Bycroft's "Zareth" won the A$25,000 ($22,520) 2010 National Photographic Portrait Prize from the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, beating 43 finalists selected from 1,000 entries submitted by amateur and professional photographers.
The image shows Clontarf Aboriginal College teenager Zareth Long leaning on a post, bare-chested and his wavy hair framing his face, gazing into the camera.
Bycroft told local media that he had taken the shot at a swimming carnival at the school in Western Australia and that Long had since started work at a mining company and was the father of a new baby.
"It was all spontaneous," Bycroft told WA Today. "I always have my camera with me at school and Zareth was watching an event. He was already in that pose. He didn't change it and just gazed into the camera on my approach."
National Portrait Gallery curator Christopher Chapman said the judges had chosen the winning portrait because of its "immediacy and power; its distinctiveness as a portrait; and for its direct presence."
"The subject, Zareth Long, projects an uncompromising gaze, drawing us physically closer to then explore the razor-sharp photographic depiction," Chapman said on the gallery's website.
"Every detail is clear and finely realized, creating an unquestionably compelling portrait that is a strong and positive representation of youth."
The winning photograph, and the other finalists, will be on display at the gallery until May 2, before going to galleries in Victoria and New South Wales states.
(Writing by Miral Fahmy, editing by Chris Allbritton)