SEPA - People's Choice

SEPA - People's Choice

SEPA 2021 Exhibition

Welcome to the SUNSTUDIOS Emerging Photographer Award 2021, presented this year in a socially distanced-friendly online format. Now in its 11th year, SEPA continues to discover and showcase the best new image makers, helping break down the barriers early career image makers face in establishing a career.

SEPA 2021 is a showcase of 40 finalist works across photo and video. Four main category winners and two People’s Choice prizes will share in a flexible $25k prize pool, helping to resource recipients through the next stage of their careers.

SEPA’s first People’s Choice prize was awarded this year. One finalist from photo and one finalist from video as voted by the public won $500 to be spent across services at SUNSTUDIOS.

Photo - Faces

James Malone

No Face, Only a Dark Place

CATEGORY WINNER

A self portrait. (not literally).

Alisha Gore

End of the line

People's Choice Award Winner (Photo)

A near fatal car accident in 2004 shifted the life direction of Mariam Ardati. Deeply affected by her own mortality and underwhelmed by the level of care provided to those at the end of their time, Mariam retrained as a Muslim Funeral Director and Death Doula. Her newfound life purpose is to create a meaningful dying experience by providing culturally sensitive care and the right level of support, often in people’s own homes.
“My role helps usher in death with dignity and in a way that aligns with the dying person’s values.” - Mariam Ardati

Elizabeth Wright

Pirate Life

Meeting a pirate and being invited into his shack on the Yorkes isn’t something you decline. He makes the best coffee and has tales to tell that draw you in and you find yourself sat beside a new friend.

Jeffrey Xu

Untitled

Jorge Serra

Ok Pretty

Captured here are Madeleine and Adela, queer couple from Brisbane pop duo, OK PRETTY. Taken during the filming of their latest video clip, they lay confidently on top of burnt cane fields, surrounded by vibrant green capes and bright, fresh, plants.
The dirt and ash symbolising what has come before them, a shedding of the past, while the green breaks through in contrast representing renewal and growth

Julia Onufreichuk

Chaos in Motion I

Onufreichuk’s work aims to capture ambiguous stories focusing on light, the psyche and the internal becoming external. A physical representation and manifestation of something that is unseen. Sometimes the work is a contradiction; intimate yet never revealing enough, always keeping others at a distance. It aims to sit on the edge of reality and fiction/fantasy. Odd elements often intersect domestic settings. Light plays an integral role in the images often activating them or even acting as its own character. Drawing inspiration from film techniques her aim is to create a cinematic atmosphere which triggers an emotional response within the viewer

Luis Campbell

Drowning

A friend sinks to the bottom of the pool, enjoying the momentary silence

Nick Turner

Levels

I remember attending a house party at Bondi in 2016, word of the event spread over social media and within hours the single share house was crowded and overrun. Unable to move without rubbing against others, seemingly endless alcohol, it became an intimate, memorable event from my youth.

Phoebe Kelly

Antonia

I am a Naarm based photographer and in my practice explore notions of connection and perception through capturing quiet observations of the everyday and the people around me.

Paulos Zeleke

Blue

I am a Naarm based photographer and in my practice explore notions of connection and perception through capturing quiet observations of the everyday and the people around me.

Rusty Crawshaw

The Dengs

The Dengs have been in Australia since 2016 under the UNHCR refugee program. Prior to this Dabora and Malual spent 17 years in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya. Malual was a soldier in South Sudan during the civil war and fled when his village was overrun. Malual sends $100US to Kakuma each month to ensure the education of his sister’s son in the camp.

Sarah Malone

a family gathers

We gathered as a family after the first lot of covid restrictions passed, in the soft light for a birthday

Su Cassiano

Marcus in the bush II

Marcus is an Australian man from Warragul. His Irish ancestors left during the potato famine to come to Australia with the hope for a better life. ‘I grew up with four sisters and no brothers. My sisters would dress me up in their clothes. My dad wasn’t macho, he was very loving and domesticated. Maybe that's why I've never been comfortable with Australian blokey culture. I’ve been working in a female dominated industry for 13 years. I’m more comfortable being around women than men.’ Marcus
Marcus's portrait is part of an ongoing photographic project exploring ideas of masculinity and some of its alternative representations in contemporary Australia. It aims to create a space for exploring masculine vulnerability as a remedy against toxicity.

Teva Cosic

Untitled (mormor anna)

A Swedish poet once wrote about the memories that watch us, the ones that we hear breathing though the birdsong is deafening. The poem speaks with a simple clarity to the phenomenon of memory – it is everywhere and nowhere, oscillating between different temporal moments. This image contemplates that imaginary space between past, present and future. My niece paints her mormors (grandmothers) face, like me and my sister once pained each other’s. But the moment is clouded by the precarity of our contemporary time and the growing uncertainty of her future.

Photo - Places

Ryan Cantwell

Close Comfort, Distant Trouble

CATEGORY WINNER

On this day it was hard to ignore the bushfire happening in the distance as the smoke cloud constantly changed by the second. As I stood waist height in the water witnessing the normalcy of a summer day at the beach, it was also a reminder not to turn our back on nature.

Adrian Brown

Cement Trucks

Majority of my works are created using digital photography with a heavy influence from 35mm and medium format film. Digital photography will never have the mystique that film offers, but it allows for a high amount of repetition helping me fine tune my style and eye. Then in the editing process I use film images as my reference for colour, grain and feel to bring the photo to life.
Most of my photography is based around storytelling. Whether that be just a single image or a collection of images I always put story at the heart of it. But the best thing about stories is how each individual can imagine themselves or their characters navigating that world. This is something that I love about photography is the ability to freeze time and allow the imagination to conjure up what happens next.
Having a creative outlet for myself is a really important part of my life. All through my life I’ve had an interest in being creative. Photography was just the thing that finally stuck. Holding the camera in my hands I get so excited. It's my tool to tell stories of the world I live in, in the hopes that it has some impact in creating change, getting people outside or just making someone smile.

Alexander Cooke

Untitled (tarp), Hanoi, 2018

Alexander Cooke is a Sydney based photographer who finds inspiration in street style portraiture and images of the everyday. He ties this into a range of editorial and commercial studio imagery.

Amy Piddington

Pipe Dream

My camera drives me to explore new places and to connect more deeply with the world around me. Photography fuels my curiosity, motivating me to see what’s around that corner. I traverse the world seeking out subtle beauty and quiet moments.

Chris Bekos

Isolation

I’ve walked down this inner-city street thousands of times. It wasn’t until Melbourne’s multiple lockdowns that the everyday was showcased on a new blank canvas. The empty streets revealed a new perspective between representation of reality and the so-called realities we choose to notice. Scenes that maybe familiar, and at the same time utterly foreign.

Christine Goerner

Mountain Ash 13

From the series Mountain Ash–Standing Tall, celebrating the majesty of a regenerating forest once devastated by bushfires, and now a multi-layered, mystical landscape–rich in texture and the detail of nature.

Daniel Walton

Sun Stroke

This is an image of surfers paradise beach in Gold Coast during the last hours of sun. Rays of light peek through the cracks of the city illuminating only certain parts of the beach, as if the sun itself stroked rays of light across its own canvas, revealing only what it wants to be seen.

Fiona Little

Motel

Another motel in Cooma. There are many. During the ski season they are full up, mostly with travellers from Sydney. Now that we are in lock-down again, they are mostly empty and the streets are quiet, the tourists gone.

Jessica Connell

Keeping them safe

At the height of the covid pandemic the health of our children and loved ones is prioritised. We clean, we wash, we disinfect; we sterilise. In a sterile environment we still strive for normality. What do our children feel as homes are sterilised, parents are masked, visitors are banished, and fear hangs in the air? A series exploring the feelings that sit under the surface of our new world. When the most basic forms of human connection - touch, proximity- and permission to gather is denied, how do we fill the void created by the inability to connect and comfort one another?

Julia Onufreichuk

Chaos in Motion II

Onufreichuk’s work aims to capture ambiguous stories focusing on light, the psyche and the internal becoming external. A physical representation and manifestation of something that is unseen. Sometimes the work is a contradiction; intimate yet never revealing enough, always keeping others at a distance. It aims to sit on the edge of reality and fiction/fantasy. Odd elements often intersect domestic settings. Light plays an integral role in the images often activating them or even acting as its own character. Drawing inspiration from film techniques her aim is to create a cinematic atmosphere which triggers an emotional response within the viewer

Mark Forbes

Conversations

This image is part of a broader film photography series titled Beautiful Solitude, described as follows: Traces of beauty exist everywhere around us. The scenes depicted in this series can be found just around the corner in all of our daily lives. Many people however may not see the beauty in the ordinary, either being too busy, caught up in their daily hustle, or have simply just not spent the time looking to appreciate the details of everyday ordinary spaces and surrounds. Sometimes all we may need is the time and space - to be able to pause to experience them.

Mark Forbes

Pantone Steps

This image is part of a broader film photography series titled Beautiful Solitude, described as follows: Traces of beauty exist everywhere around us. The scenes depicted in this series can be found just around the corner in all of our daily lives. Many people however may not see the beauty in the ordinary, either being too busy, caught up in their daily hustle, or have simply just not spent the time looking to appreciate the details of everyday ordinary spaces and surrounds. Sometimes all we may need is the time and space - to be able to pause to experience them.

Mattia Panunzio

Charlie's kitchen

Between 1945 and 1970 more than 140.000 Italians migrated to Australia. Charlie (Basilio) was born in Frosinone, Italy, in 1924. He was 28 when he spent five weeks on a boat from Naples to Melbourne to arrive in Australia, it was 1952. He never went back to Italy since then. This picture was taken in his kitchen in Stanmore, Sydney.

Ryley Clarke

Things that Lean

As Memories & Time Entwine, A Hanging Branch Connects Us, is an ongoing visual narrative that retraces the fragments of my introspective and familial identity. Searching for a relationship between remembrance, time, love, loss, and belonging, the body of work recalls upon and observes the complex interconnections of the self, lineage, and memory. Weaving together the imaginations of my Great-Grandfather’s mysterious film stills, past and present moments entwine in transient dialogue. Gazing between then and now, a dream space where emerging memories and narratives unfold, the work reflects upon my youth and adolescence, my connection to those closest to me and of those who came before me.
Lost and buried memories resurface. Spaces, objects and environments reveal themselves. Past and present relationships, the familial and the self, form new meanings. The once indistinct blur that prevailed my family’s history and my identity becomes an interplay between absence and presence, disconnection and affiliation, experiences and imaginations.
Connecting the parallels of narrative and documentary, the body of work seeks to reconsider the notions of my ancestral tree and identity. Questioning the photograph’s ability to precisely recall the past, it looks towards the limitations of recognising who we are. It contemplates how we structure ourselves to belong within the world, narrating the fragility of our memories, our ancestral tree and the self. It breathes as an entity, living in the past and present. Often in motion, occasionally lost in the fragments between, as we navigate through a world of various shifting-selves. Ever-searching for a present desire for connection.

Video - Faces

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Jonathan McIntyre

Just Appreciate

CATEGORY WINNER

A shared camaraderie of frustration with a fine line of numbing dullness. As humans will live and die for our freedom, but when you’re confined to a prison of your own construction, it acts as a shield against the unpredictability and lurking chaos of the outside world.
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Kamilla Musland

Not Everyone

People's Choice Winner (Video)

The project was for my final piece for my masters of media at RMIT where I focused on inclusivity casting. I cast a variety of people, both models and non models, different ages, skin colour, shapes and sizes. Although I know I did not do a perfect job and inclusivity casting still has a long way to go I believe this project made me more aware of the decisions you make when you cast for fashion and to always aim to do better than you did yesterday.
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Vote

Dillon Mak

The Truth

Non-fiction short film about sexual abuse in the Jehovahs Witness community, shot up close with wide angle lenses to capture facial performances intimately.
Vote
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Levi Cranston

Trajectory

Trajectory was formed as a visual repetition of the theme 'emotional transactions.' Emotional transactions as a montage of three intersecting narratives of backstabbing, one-upping, desire, abandon; undermining serious intent with visual homage—like a 'best of' cut for a 60s film that doesn't exist.
It is a film of looking, and an evolving relationship of what is looked at. A hollywood simulacrum of the Pudovkin effect
The images were always planned for recyclability; to put it another way, a rhythmically-alive USSR montage theory puzzle. With dynamite in it. That's fun.
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Matthew Maule

The Clincher

A film my good friend Tom Stephens and I made for Huck Hastings. We wanted to capture the feeling of the song and let the lyrics do the talking. With minimal budget it was quite a big effort to make it all happen with favours from some local people in Cullen Bullen lending their cars, utes & caravans as well as their land to film on.
The Clincher - Huck Hastings
From his debut album 'Cheers to Progress
Produced by Matt Maule and Tom Stephens
Directed by Tom Stephens and Matt Maule
Cinematography by Matt Maule
Runner/ Driver - Dylan Silcock
Gaffer - Nick Gascoine
Colourist - Matt Campbell
Art Dept Assistant - Glen
Title - Genevieve Kaiser
Equipment - VA Hire
Starring Harrie Hastings, Adrian Giribon, Dylan Silcock and Tom Stephens
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Matty Smith

Manny

This motion piece aims to break down the chaos of the city, the complexity of basketball and to connect with the simplicity of movement.

Video - Places

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Ryan Andrew Lee

Wonnarua

CATEGORY WINNER

Wonnarua is a contemplative moving image installation work that aims to provoke discussion around themes of Indigenous ways of living in juxtaposition with western settler-state system's unsustainable, damaging ways of using stolen lands.
The video diptych contrasts living portraits of five Aboriginal people from the Wonnarua Nation with drone shots of the vast Muswellbrook coal mines, which are situated in the heart of the Wonnarua Nation. The frame in which the video work sits is an 1820's antique Victorian era influenced design which correlates with the exact time period that European settlers first reached Muswellbrook, Wonnarua Country. The symbolic frame also metaphorically acknowledges the paradox of living in and between the two worlds and addresses a subtle hypocrisy; the act of critiquing Western systems although at the same time living and breathing them.
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Daniel Kuberek

The Book

Daniel Kuberek is a filmmaker and photographer from Sydney. He is passionate about shooting with vintage cinema lenses—The Book was shot with 1960s Cooke Kinetals made for 16mm film—and exploring the impact of nature on the psyche.
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Faezeh Alavi

Not To Be

Not To Be is a work of digital art exploring womanhood and virginity in a chauvinistic society, topics still considered taboo in much of the world.
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My Hope

James Hiscutt

My Hope' is a concerning reflection on the current state of our world; with a focus on the devastation of the 2003 Canberra bushfires. Our main character is young, way too young to understand the issues at hand, and so his unintentional ignorance enforces the point that he is unknowingly relying on our generation to lead us towards a hopeful future.
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Murray Enders

Lawson Myna

An injured Myna living in Lawson Grove South Yarra must find a way to survive in a dangerous world for a bird who can't fly. This film documented much of what I noticed on a daily basis while living in South Yarra, and I was honoured to be able to tell this small birds story while making it.
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Peter Marko

The Penguin Parade

Architectural short film about the Penguin Parade Visitor Centre.

MEET THE SEPA JUDGES

Photo – Adam Ferguson, Georges Antoni, Nicky Catley

Video – Andy Taylor, Carolyn Constantine, Dave May

SEPA 2021 JUDGES

Previous finalists