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PSC wins

10 Sep 2019

PSC wins Image

By Alex Dalziel

Photography Studies College (PSC) staff and students cleaned up at the 2019 AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards (APPA) last month, winning 19 awards including the coveted Ilford Trophy for highest scoring print.

Hosted by the Australian Institute for Professional Photography (AIPP), the Ilford Trophy is awarded to the highest-scoring print of the event and was taken out by Mandarine Montgomery with her surrealist landscape print Waiting for the Rain

Mandarine is PSC’s communications and future students coordinator, and like most who work at PSC, has a storied background in photography. 

She said that her creativity was a product of her mother, who was a fashion illustrator in Melbourne. Photography became her passion when she was given an Olympus OM10 camera at the age of 15. 

“I used to lock myself in the darkroom in year 12 while everybody would be out at lunch, just doing prints,” Mandarine said. 

Mandarine won her first photography competition when she was 20 and was presented with the $600 prize by then Victorian Premier Joan Kirner. She boldly asked the Premier if she could do a portrait of her, which she agreed to. Mandarine said that the experience gave her confidence in her photographic ability.

“It showed me that I could earn money from photography and that I could access people and opportunities that I wouldn’t normally be able to,” she said.  

Since then, Mandarine has won over 50 awards at various AIPP events, as well as several international competitions and the Australian portrait photographer of the year in 2013. 

Her winning print Waiting for the Rain is a monochrome surrealist landscape piece that depicts a desolate landscape in the middle of a drought. Like a lot of her photography, the image is a photomontage composed of multiple different elements in the vein of American photographer Jerry Uelsmann. 

The idea and pictures for the print came from a trip to Kangaroo Island. 

“When I went to Kangaroo Island the landscape was very parched and dry, it looked like a moonscape in parts. So, I took a lot of landscape photographs as well as different elements that I knew that I might use later on,” she said. 

“I always like to do something a bit surreal, so I wanted to create something that was a visually thought-provoking expression of drought.” 

The AIPP awards use a scoring system out of 100, with a panel of judges assigning scores to photos without knowing the photographer. Photos given a score over 80 are given awards, with photos scoring over 90 receiving a gold award, and photos over 95 receiving a gold award with distinction. Waiting for the Rain received a score of 97. 

During the category judging, which happened from August 9 - 12, Mandarine was in the hospital with her mother who was ill at the time.

Initially Mandarine was supposed to be on a judge’s panel but had to live stream the event in the hospital room, sitting on her mum’s hospital bed. 

“When the image came up and I scored gold straight up I started crying. It felt like I was in a dream,” she said.

“On the Awards presentation night, I was unaware that my image had scored the highest as there were a few other gold distinctions too. One of my friends saw the look on my face when I won and said it was absolute disbelief, I couldn’t get out of the chair for a minute.”

In total, PSC students won 18 awards between them, with students Susan Brunialti and Kim Nguyen scoring gold. 

Fourth-year advanced diploma student Susan Brunialti scored 91 for her print Solitude, inspired by Australian painter Jeffery Smart. She said that winning the award helped consolidate her learning and gave her confidence to spring from.

“It felt quite exciting. I was squealing, never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would win gold at an AIPP event,” Ms Brunialti said.

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