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2015 Photograph of the Year Awards

by Amanda Collins

2015 was a year of great work from Open Colleges’ photography students.

To celebrate, trainers and assessors from the Photography Program have selected their favourite student works that were submitted as assignments during 2015 for the inaugural Photograph of the Year Awards.

Speaking about the initiative, Program Manager Antony Cirocco said “There is no greater reward for a teacher than to see their students create amazing works of art”.

According to Cirocco, the winners were chosen by the judges as they best represented “the performance and artistic excellence of the students”.

“I am continually inspired by the level of craft, artistic risk and dogged perseverance our students show in pursuit of their images, and we all agreed that by choosing a sample of the best images we can celebrate the hard work of the students in the program,” said Cirocco.

“The Photography of the Year competition is a new tradition for us at Open Colleges and it’s one that will be ongoing,” he added.

2015 Photograph of the Year

Winner: Niki Mihas

Judge: Antony Cirocco, Open Colleges’ Program Manager Photography

photograph of the year

“Niki’s work didn’t appear on my radar until she got towards the end of her study. However, this image stopped me in my tracks. I first viewed it on our Pinterest board and was immediately impressed,” said Cirocco.

“Niki experiments with light, colour and composition in her photography and she does this at night, during sunset and with slow shutter speeds. This particular image is sharp, well exposed and the pose creates interest and movement.

“The ethereal feel of the image demonstrates art direction, technical nuance while perfect exposure enables creative post production. Niki’s image is beautiful, mystical and rewarding to view. The quality of her work will enable her to stand out from the crowd, and the creativity shown here will be her strength moving forward,” he added.

Judges Commendations

Judge: Leah Jeanes, Open Colleges’ Assessor for Certificate in Digital Photography

Commendation: Lisa Gough

“This image I feel encapsulates what we are trying to teach our students. It is well lit, with details in the highlights and shadows. The image is well composed, taking the environment into the capture while not allowing it to distract from the main subject.

“The pose is deceptively simple with true emotion behind the subject’s eyes. Lightroom has been used to enhance but not overwork the final outcome.

“More than this, the image communicates. In a single image you gain a sense of the artist, you feel a backstory and are intrigued to see more,” said Jeanes.


Judge: Yvette Worboys, Open Colleges’ Assessor for Certificate in Digital Photography, Certificate IV in Design (Photography), Certificate in Photography and Certificate in Freelance Photography

Commendation: Matthew Kidd

“Matthew Kidd started studying Certificate in Digital Photography with Open Colleges in 2015. During this time he has produced high quality work with a consistency of style that is impressive. Each assignment or action point he attempts is well considered and uses light with flair and daring.

“This photograph stood out for me in 2015, the subtle tones and gorgeous light creates a beautiful emotive tone. The reverse dominance used here in his composition style works well to create a beautiful landscape,” Worboys said.


Judge: Patricia Casey, Open Colleges’ Assessor for Certificate in Digital Photography

Commendation: Jodie Tobin

“This photograph is a portrait of Jodie’s daughter (Alicia) and she has really captured something of this child’s nature. Jodie has used a very shallow depth of field so the eyes of the subject are in focus and are the focal point for the shot. The rest of the face gets gradually softer and softer as you move out from the eyes.

“She has caught such a beautiful expression on the child’s face. In the tradition of Julia Margaret Cameron with a modern twist, this is a really successful portrait,” said Tobin.


Judge: Isobelle Pover-Leong, Open Colleges’ Trainer and Assessor for Certificate in Digital Photography and Certificate IV in Design (Photography)

Commendation: Robert Fitzgerald

“The composition uses the bright colour of the horizon line to give perspective and context to the portrait. We run our eyes along the line and the other fishing men are revealed. The sky colour is a beautiful backdrop and the colour is a wonderful contrast to the green/yellow strip.

“The use of the rule of thirds grid in the composition works effortlessly here, as does the pose captured in a freeze motion shot. It is an engaging photo and enlarged on the screen it has beautiful colour qualities.

“The diagonal line of the fishing pole adds a nice dynamic to the composition, while the grace and motion of the fishermen is captured in the small gesture of his foot,” said Pover-Leong.

Overall Judge’s Statement

Speaking about the inaugural Photograph of the Year Awards, Peter de Deckker, Head of Portfolio for Creative Industries and Trades, said “Congratulations to Niki Mihas, the winner of the best Photograph of the Year for 2015. Her photograph of “A Dancing Girl” demonstrates an artistic intensity combined with refined manipulation of lighting, command of colour control and clever incorporation of movement.

“Congratulations also to Robert Fitzgerald, Jodie Tobin, Matthew Kidd and Lisa Gough. They deserve a commendation for the high standard of professionalism in photography.

“I take this opportunity to congratulate all the 2015 Graduates of the photography program and wish them a great future in their chosen field. It is always a real pleasure to look at the submissions by the photography students; their inventive approaches to their subjects are persistently refreshing.

“Thank you to Antony and his professional colleagues, Isobelle, Patricia, Yvette and Leah for their hard work and dedication during 2015,” he added.

Love photography?

Why not explore your interest, learn about your camera and get the skills to take amazing photos with a photography course from Open Colleges. There are courses for people of all skill levels, ranging form beginners to advanced. Study online, in your own time and at your own pace.

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