Photographer claims prestigious prize

Robyn MacRae’s winning portrait in the phone section at the Fremantle International Portrait Prize.

Local photographer Robyn MacRae has been awarded first prize in the inaugural Phone section of the prestigious Fremantle International Portrait Prize.

She takes home $1000, but perhaps more significantly, she is also awarded the recognition that comes with what is one of the most highly sought after prizes in Australian photography.

“Some of the other art prizes are more well known, but the Fremantle is a really good cross-section of images,” she explained.

“You know some art prizes you look at them and you go, ‘what? I would have thrown that away!’ Fremantle’s not like that, the shots are really high quality and it’s real photojournalism and great storytelling; really, really good work.”

“Although this is the first time they’ve run the phone section and I’m not sure how many people really take iPhone photography very seriously!” she laughed.

The portrait, shot on an iPhone, is of singer (and her son’s partner) Laura Rampling. It was taken as part of Robyn’s series ‘Skin Deep’, which aims to capture unguarded moments of honesty, vulnerability and connection.

“The series, shot in natural light, swirls around the concepts of self identity, beauty and belonging,” she said.

“It aims to capture a human experience: a rawness and a frailty that is evident in every soul we encounter, and for us to, for a fleeting moment, feel present in another life.”

Robyn was not able to attend the awards ceremony in Western Australia due to the time and expense. Her friend, and former Tumbarumba High teacher who now lives in Fremantle, Susie Sexton, collected it for her.

The giant cheque then made its way to Melbourne, where it is taking up space in a friend’s house until she can go and collect it.

“Afterwards Suzie sent me a message saying, ‘what am I supposed to do with this cheque?’” Robyn recalled.

“I sent her the phone number of my friends from Melbourne, and she handed it over to them. They only intended going back with this little carryon for one night and they ended up going back with this huge cheque!

“They were sending me photos of them with the cheque for the rest of the day.”

Robyn’s friend Sandy Goddard was saddled with responsibility for the giant cheque, as Robyn couldn’t attend the awards presentation.
Sandy Goddard carried Robyn’s giant cheque back to Melbourne to keep for her.