Jared Leibowitz has won the australianphotography.com April 'Music' photo competition with a high-octane shot of AFI lead singer Davey Havok performing at Soundwave earlier this year.
"The photographer has captured an intensely energetic and powerfully expressive moment here with remarkable timing," commented this month's guest judge, award winning fashion, landscape and events photographer Paul Hoelen. "He even managed a clean, crisp composition with this unrepeatable moment. That's a great feat in stage photography which is often made difficult by a number of distracting elements."
Hoelen praised the image for its wealth of engaging details including the teeth-gritted facial expression, the curving swirl of the microphone lead and even the flinging shoelaces. "Together they convincingly convey to the viewer the feel and energy of this superbly caught moment," he said.
Leibowitz set out to photograph several bands over the course of the day-long music festival but, interestingly, AFI wasn't one of them. "I hadn't planned to take photos of [AFI], but I was convinced by one of my friends to shoot them, so I went. The pit was full, and was so hard to move around in, but I was in the right place at the right time," said Leibowitz, who has won a Spyder4PRO from Kayell Australia, valued at $240.
From a strong shortlist of 23 images (see below for the full list) Hoelen picked out two more images for special commendation: Laura Swindles' 'Vile Specimen' and Katrice Sullivan's 'Walk'.
Laura Swindles' black and white image of band Vile Specimen stood out for its gritty photojournalistic style, said Hoelen. "It lands you in that environment with a loud thrash and almost convinces you you're there in the flesh. The ghosting of the flash sync effect on the singer and subsequent blurring adds a great sense of energy and movement. I love the body language of the widely splayed legs, how he looks like he's almost swallowing the microphone – and the bowed heads of the onlookers make it seem like they're in a state of some kind of rapturous worship."
Katrice Sullivan's 'Walk' shows a street busker framed by a group of seemingly disinterested passers by. "This image really works for me with it's rich storytelling components. To me, it presents quite a simple, elegant portrayal of where it all starts for so many musicians. It speaks clearly of finding the courage to put yourself out there in the public arena, despite the risk of potential rejection and disinterest, and keeping on with it using your own self belief and whatever currency you can gather to keep you going," said Hoelen.
ABOUT THIS MONTH'S JUDGE: Originally a landscape specialist, these days Tasmania-based photographer Paul Hoelen would be more accurately described as a generalist. He thrives on a diverse subject range including fine art nudes, portraiture, ethereal wilderness landscapes, band photography, boutique and destination weddings, commercial projects, editorial assignments and large scale events & festivals in NZ, Australia and the USA. He is a two-time AIPP Tasmanian Professional Photographer of the Year and three-time AIPP Tasmanian Landscape Photographer of the Year. He was an exhibited finalist in the Landscape category of the Head On Festival in 2013 and NZIPP Overseas Photographer of the Year in 2012. He has judged nationally and internationally at the Tasmanian and Victorian AIPP Awards, Australian Professional Photography Awards and NZ Professional Photography Awards. He is a Master of Photography in Australia and Fellow of the NZIPP. His client list includes Australian Geographic, Heineken NZ, 10X and Vodafone with recent exhibitions in Cradle Mountain Wilderness & Red Wall Galleries in Tasmania and Source Photographica in Melbourne. More info: www.paulhoelen.com
Winner: 'Davey Havok of AFI.' Image by Jared Leibowitz.
Highly commended: 'Vile Specimen.' Image by Lauren Swindles.
Highly commended: 'Walk By.' Image by Katrice O'Sullivan.
'Where There's Smoke.' Image by Anni Fordham.
'Sideshow 5.' Image by Bruce Heath.
'The Blues.' Image by Fleur Blum.
'Juniper.' Image by Matt Schmebri.
'Bluesman.' Image by Andrew Fuller.
'The Specials.' Image by John Walker.
'Feeling It.' By Joe Moreno.
'Dillinger Escape Plan.' Image by Amanda Brenchley.
'Man with Many Talents.' Image by Eko Julianto.
'From Valley Ruins.' Image by Sophie Krohn.
'Edward Sharpe's Purple Reign.' Image by Emma McPherson.
'This is Mars.' By Kelly Hobson.
'Music.' Image by Bishow.
'Hands Like Houses Graces Brisbane's Crowbar.' Image by Maddi Baj.