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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Myles Nelson

It was definitely a candid encounter as was the expression on the face. It was constructed insofar as the image was deliberately taken from a distance so as to minimize intrusion and to magnify the effect of the image.

James, 2012 by Myles Nelson
James, 2012 by Myles Nelson

How do you define your practice?
Photographer.

Do you have a website or are you represented on a website?
mylesnelson.com

How would you describe your relationship to the subject/s?
Our relationship was based on only the briefest of encounters. Of paramount importance was that the subject was relaxed and left to be alone with his thoughts until the image came together.

Was the photograph a result of a constructed, fabricated or candid encounter?
It was definitely a candid encounter as was the expression on the face. It was constructed insofar as the image was deliberately taken from a distance so as to minimize intrusion and to magnify the effect of the image.

What are the ideas or themes underpinning your portrait?
Solitude and what it looks like to be alone with one's thoughts. I had often questioned the disproportionate representation of artists as subjects in portrait photography and went out of my way to photograph non artists in an art space. I found that these spaces bring out emotions and social interactions that are often stymied in other environments.

Please describe the technical aspects of your photograph?
The available light was lovely so no further enhancement was required. A wider aperture was used to shorten the depth of field to further isolate the subject. A rudimentary Nikon DSLR was the only device on hand that day.

How was the final print made? Is this print one of an edition?
I love heavily textured paper but luster was chosen to match the feel of the image. I am forever amazed at the difference made by going to different printers so I get full size samples from different locations and then make a choice.

Describe your consideration of scale, mounting and framing in the presentation of your portrait?
The theme of isolation is important to the narrative so an unobtrusive frame was needed. I always need expert help with the exact tone of the mounting but a white that matched the shirt was important in this case. I love large images but in this instance the subject is intended to be slightly smaller. A large image would work against the theme of the image.

Who would you nominate as your influences?
Photographers: Richard Avedon, James Natchwey, Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, Peter Beard, Dario Mitidieri, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sebastiao Salgado, Wolfgang Tillmans, Annie Leibovitz's photos of the Rolling Stones and Anton Corbijn. Film directors: Wong Kar-Wai, David Lynch, Wes Anderson, Jean-Luc Godard and Jim Jarmusch. Other artists: Caravaggio, Tamara de Lempicka, Steve Cross, Alex Noble and Steve Perry.

Do you have any advice for young photographers (eg. students)?
Master the principles of light and what it can do for you. Accumulate photos and watch films that resonate with you to provide inspiration. Never decline an opportunity to take photos for people when you are starting out. It's all valuable experience. Know what you want before you start shooting. Good kit that you are comfortable with is better than a lot of kit.

Related information

Yhonnie and Indiana, 2012 by Janelle Low
Yhonnie and Indiana, 2012 by Janelle Low
Yhonnie and Indiana, 2012 by Janelle Low
Yhonnie and Indiana, 2012 by Janelle Low

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2013

Previous exhibition, 2013

The National Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition is selected from a national field of entries that reflect the distinctive vision of Australia's aspiring and professional portrait photographers and the unique nature of their subjects.

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The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency