Chris McGrath named Nikon Walkley Photographer of the Year
Getty Images photographer Chris McGrath has been named the 2019 Nikon-Walkley Press Photographer of the Year, the highest accolade for photojournalists in Australia.
McGrath took out two major awards: the Nikon-Walkley Press Photographer of the Year, for his work covering stories in Kosovo, Hong Kong and Istanbul, and the Feature/Photographic Essay award for his series The End of the Caliphate, focussed on the defeat of Islamic State in March 2019.
"After months of fighting, the Kurdish-led and American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) declared on March 23, 2019, the “100 percent territorial defeat” of the so-called Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, the caption information for McGrath's series explains. "The group once controlled vast areas across Syria and Iraq, a population of up to 12 million, and a “caliphate” that drew tens of thousands of foreign nationals to join its ranks.
The judges praised McGrath’s entry as a mature set of images shot in classic Magnum style, exploring how daily life continues alongside the devastation of the conflict.
Starting his career in Queensland, McGrath has worked for Getty for more than 19 years, and is currently based in Istanbul. The walkley win caps off a stellar year for the photographer, with a nomination in the 2019 World Press Photo of the Year and first prize in the General News category of the 2019 World Press Photo awards.
Meanwhile, Matt Roberts of the ABC took out the News Photography award for The Second Coming of Senator Lambie, a striking image of Senator Jacqui Lambie on the day when she was one of the decisive votes on the newly-returned Morrison government’s tax cut plan.
Roberts captured her returning to parliament like a prize fighter walking into the ring for a rematch, her determined stance contrasted with the frantic press corp. As the Walkley website says, it’s an incredibly dynamic shot, with great use of lighting and wonderful expressions on every person in the frame.
Speaking about the image, Roberts said,
"The Indigenous smoking ceremony outside Parliament House created amazing and rare lighting conditions inside the Marble Foyer, as the sun streamed in through the wafted-in smoke.
I decided to forego the start of the next event to linger in the Marble Foyer and managed to capture the image of Lambie. I opted for a wider frame to include the unique light, the sun streaking through the smoky air, and the press gallery workers throwing questions from the sidelines. The sun bouncing off the white floor prevented a silhouetted picture and gave me a nice counter to the strong backlight.”
The judges praised Roberts’ image as “a great example of a single image moment, beautifully symbolising a whole story in one frame”.
Shot in powerful black-and-white, Golding combines graphic action and composition with raw human emotion. The series is edited to tell a compelling story, starting, in the judges’ words, “a conversation beyond the content of the frame”.
Golding says: “The Invictus Games uses sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who serve their country. It is a competition that seeks to ignite their ‘unconquered’ spirit.”
You can see all the finalist images, and the winners of the other Walkley awards for journalism on the Walkley website.