Sydney, 27 October 2021: From a baby octopus in the depths of the Lembeh Strait, Indonesia, to turtles on Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, and the majestic fjords of New Zealand, visitors can explore the remote corners of our region when the 2021 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year (AGNPY) exhibition opens at the Australian Museum (AM) on Saturday 30 October 2021.
The 2021 AGNPY exhibition, produced by the South Australian Museum, features 109 of the best images chosen from 2206 submissions, including Scott Portelli’s overall winning image, ‘Leafy Night.’ Portelli also won the Threatened Species category with his grey nurse shark image, ‘Declining Species.’
Portelli, a Sydney photographer, captured the winning photograph of a sea dragon in March 2020 shortly after the announcement of COVID-19 restrictions impacted his year-long journey around Australia.
“The nation-wide lockdown was declared, and we were stuck for six weeks at a small campground in the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia. This ended up being a blessing in disguise,” Portelli said.
“Over the course of six weeks I had the opportunity to dive regularly, becoming familiar with the terrain, getting to know the dive site and spotting a few individual Seadragons. I became acquainted with the resident dragons of Second Valley and this is how I managed to get the shot,” he said.
“After several encounters with one particular Seadragon it appeared to become unperturbed by my presence and I was able to compose a shot that tightly captured its eyes, features and appendages front on,” Portelli added.
Australian Museum Director and CEO, Kim McKay AO, said that with all travel plans cancelled over the past two years, the vivid images remind us of the wonder and joy to be had from our natural world.
“The photographers have used their lenses to not only capture secret moments in nature that have never been seen before, but also highlight some of the important environmental issues that we face.”
“Together, these images combine to create a powerful exhibition that raises awareness of the need to conserve our wildlife and biodiversity, which is a key aim of our work at the Australian Museum,” McKay said.
The judges, Narelle Autio, Trent Parke and Stavros Pippos, were united in selecting this unique and striking image as the overall winner.
“The backlighting has transformed the Seadragon from a tiny sea creature into the illusion of a mythical beast. Beautifully framed, the dragon emerges from the darkness, glowing with a sense of fire within,” the judges said.
Portelli, a photographer for over 20 years, said that winning the 2021 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year was a highlight of his photographic career.
“Being awarded in one of the most prestigious and respected nature photography competitions in Australia is an honour and a privilege. This is one of my proudest moments,” he said.
“The photograph shows the intricate details of the Leafy Seadragons in a different way, I wanted to capture the essence of this delicate and vulnerable species that are only found in the South of Australia. The more we understand the ocean and its inhabitants the more people will feel connected and take action to protect our ocean creatures,” Portelli added.
Editor-in-Chief, Australian Geographic, Chrissie Goldrick said that the restrictions experienced by us all in the lead up to the competition did not impact on the quality and breadth of the photography on display in this year’s exhibition.
“In fact, the winning photo came about as result of the pandemic, so the photographers have shown great resourcefulness, and their photos once again demonstrate the raw beauty and power of the natural history of our biogeographic region,” Goldrick said.
As Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year, Portelli receives a cash prize of $10,000 and a Coral Expeditions holiday.
On display at the Australian Museum’s Hintze Hall and free to all visitors, AGNPY is now in its 18th year. The 2021 competition received 2206 entries from amateur and professional photographers capturing the beauty of our region’s fauna and landscapes.
Visitors are invited to cast their vote for their favourite photograph in our People’s Choice competition for the chance to win a $1000 gift voucher from Digital Camera Warehouse, and a $250 voucher for use in the AM’s shop.
The winner and runners-up of the ten categories are:
Winner: A White-capped at Sunset, Doug Gimesy (VIC)
Runner-up: Howling at the Moon, Mike George (NSW)
Winner: Next Generation, Tammy Gibbs (WA)
Runner-up: Dreaming, Franco Tulli (Italy)
Winner: A Tree Dreaming, Christian Spencer (VIC)
Runner-up: Stilted Reflections, Georgina Steytler (WA)
Winner: Ghost Mushrooms, Callie Chee (NSW)
Runner-up: Swamp Secrets, Paula McManus (SA)
Winner: Forest of Reflection, Hayden Cannon (WA)
Runner-up: Beneath the Surface, Ashlee Karas (WA)
Winner: Incoming, Jeff Freestone (VIC)
Runner-up: King of the Cape, Matt Wright (QLD)
Junior (photographers under 18 years of age):
Winner: You Can’t See Me, Georgia McGregor (QLD)
Runner-up: Cockatoo, Aidan Cimarosti (NSW)
Our Impact (depicting human impact on nature):
Winner: Bound, jammed inside, and posted, Doug Gimesy (VIC)
Runner-up: Single-use Drifter, Justin Gilligan, (NSW)
Threatened Species (threatened, rare, vulnerable or endangered species):
Winner: Declining Species, Scott Portelli (NSW)
Runner-up: In the Shadows, Tom Svensson, Sweden
Portfolio Prize (best portfolio of six or more images):
Tim Wrate (NSW)
- Name: 2021 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year, a South Australian Museum exhibition
- Dates: 30 October, 2021 - 30 January, 2022
- Where: Hintze Hall, Australian Museum, 1 William St, Sydney, NSW
- Admission: Free
- Website: https://australian.museum/exhibition/agnpy-2021/
The 2021 competition judges were:
- Narelle Autio – international award-winning outback and coastal photographer.
- Trent Parke – internationally acclaimed photographer and the first Australian member of the prestigious Magnum photographic agency.
- Stavros Pippos – celebrated South Australian landscape photographer
- To download winning and runner up images please click here.
- Note: watermarked images MUST be used online. High res available on request.
- The 2021 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year, a South Australian Museum exhibition, was formerly known as ANZANG.
- The competition and resulting exhibition are owned, managed and produced by the South Australian Museum.
- Open to photographers of all ages, skill levels and nationalities, the competition asks people to submit images of fauna, flora or landscapes in Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and the New Guinea regions.
- The Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year exhibition is a partnership between the South Australian Museum, Australian Geographic and the Australian Museum.
Image Usage Requirements
All files/images are orientated correctly for display and must be reproduced in the orientation that they appear. Images can be resized but not rotated or flipped. They must be reproduced at a sufficiently high resolution to ensure that the photographs are not distorted, blurred, pixelated, or otherwise altered without written approval from the South Australian Museum. Images cannot be cropped except where this is clearly stated in the caption as a ‘detail’.
Any images reproduced for online channels must use the watermarked versions of the image, as supplied by the South Australian Museum. Watermarked images may not be cropped.
Copyright All images are the property of the photographers and can only be used to promote the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition and exhibition, or to illustrate stories about the competition and exhibition. No other usage is permissible except where arranged in writing with the South Australian Museum and the photographer.
The credit “The Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition is produced by the South Australian Museum” must appear in the editorial copy.
The name of the photographer and the name of their photograph must be included in captions as a minimum requirement in the following format: Title of photograph by First name Surname or First name Surname’s photograph entitled Title of photograph. Including additional information in the caption such as the category, prize placement or where the photographer is from is permissible as long as the above conditions are met.