Christopher Hopkins has been named the winner of the 2020 Nikon-Walkley Photo of the Year Prize for “I Want to Hold her Hand”.

“Robyn Becker was in the final stages of breast and gastric cancer at home with her daughter Alex in a Melbourne under lockdown. Having been advised that Robyn did not have much time left, her sister Jennifer travelled from California to be with her, but was required to spend two weeks in hotel isolation,” Hopkins said. “Jennifer was given special leave to visit Robyn, but only for an hour at a time. ‘I want to be with her, I want to talk to her, I want to hold her hand, comfort her and hug her,’ Jennifer said. Robyn would pass away several weeks later.”

The Nikon-Walkley judges felt Christopher Hopkins’ image of Robyn Becker and her family powerfully captured the emotion of 2020. The judges said “the warmth and sense of connection while we are all still in this moment of borders and barriers is just so powerful. Beautifully composed with great emotion, this is tenderness.”

All Walkley Award winners will be announced in a live broadcast on SKY NEWS EXTRA (Foxtel Channel 604) and streamed on the Walkley website (walkleys.com) from 7.00pm AEDT on Friday, November 20.

Viewers are advised that this exhibition includes graphic images that may be confronting. It may not be easy to look at all of them, but we believe it’s important for the world to see, as do Australia’s talented and dedicated photojournalists. Viewer discretion is advised.

NIKON-WALKLEY PRESS PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR

Matthew Abbott, The New York Times & Oculi

Judges’ comments: “This was a really strong portfolio with some perfectly composed shots. Abbott manages to make the familiar unfamiliar in displaying his light-footed approach to photography. All these shots tell a story and are sharp, well exposed and clean with a lovely sense of colour.”



Kate Geraghty,
The Sydney Morning Herald

Judges’ comments: “Kate Geraghty showcases her ability as a storyteller across a range of different subjects. You can see her hand across the different stories and get a sense of her gaze. These elegant shots emanate empathy, restraint and nuance. Geraghty was there for any big story this year, shooting in her signature, elegant style, purposefully allowing room in her photos. Through the entire portfolio, there is a sense of tenderness. She photographs communities that other people don’t cover.”


Nick Moir, The Sydney Morning Herald

Judges’ comments: “A portfolio full of texture and richness, Nick Moir has captured the biggest stories of the year. From his incredible bushfire coverage through to intimate COVID shots, his work is consistently strong and versatile. He has a way of finding the in-between moments in this consistently strong collection.”




 

NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY

Matthew Abbott, The New York Times & Oculi, “A kangaroo rushes past a burning house in Lake Conjola”

Judges’ comments: “Even if you wanted to stage the shot of the kangaroo you couldn’t. This uncanny shot is the last that you would expect to get, and while you’re immediately drawn to the kangaroo you quickly realise that there’s so much else going on in the picture. Incredible detail in these amazing images from Matt Abbott. For millions of people around the world, this photo quickly became the image for the Australian Summer Bushfires.”

Brad Fleet, The Advertiser, “One billion deaths”

Judges’ comments: “The image of the burnt joey is simply amazing and absolutely heartbreaking. Brad Fleet has covered two sides of one of the year’s major stories in an extraordinary way, highlighting both the animals and their destroyed habitats.”



Jake Nowakowski, Herald Sun, “Extinction Rebellion”

Judges’ comments: “This collection of carefully composed shots perfectly sums up the energy of the protest. Jake Nowakowski has put himself in the action – none of these images are from afar. The two sides are artfully presented, with the police in many shots remaining anonymous while the faces and emotion of the protesters are clear.”


SPORT PHOTOGRAPHY

Matthew Abbott, The New York Times and Oculi, “Football’s Longest Drive: 2000kms across Central Australia”

Judges’ comments: “Abbott has captured how empowering sport can be for a community. These images aren’t highly stage-managed or polished, they are almost romantic in how they display a sense of realness and humanity. The set portrays a positive story that sits outside the dominant sport narrative, focusing on the joy of the spectators. Completely different from the other entries in this category, an excellent take from Abbott that pushes the genre forward from cliches.”

Robert Cianflone, Getty Images, “Sporting Arenas”

Judges’ comments: “A technically masterful portfolio that provides a unique perspective of each sport captured. This portfolio is an original contribution to the category. The truly epic horse racing shot is a standout. A beautiful display of artistry.”

 

Sam Ruttyn, The Daily Telegraph, “UFC 243”

Judges’ comments: “An incredibly detailed collection of images which captures the blood and guts of sport that is not often covered in the mainstream media. From the splattering blood to the displays of strength, Sam Ruttyn was able to portray the brutality, emotion and drama of the UFC. The mouthguard flying is a completely original, perfectly timed shot.”



FEATURE/PHOTOGRAPHIC ESSAY

Matthew Abbott, The New York Times & Oculi, “Black Summer”

Judges’ comments: “It’s obvious that a lot of thought has been put into this varied, balanced set of pictures. Abbott manages to make you feel like you were actually there, witnessing the bushfires. His ability to get so close to the action is excellent, resulting in some incredible, breathtaking shots. An extremely well-edited collection of photos.”


 

David Caird, Sunday Herald Sun, “Behind The COVID Door”

Judges’ comments: “This series provides a coherent narrative that is hard to achieve. Caird has taken risks to shoot COVID patients, resulting in images the likes of which we rarely see. There is an intimacy in these photos. While you can’t see the faces of the nurses, Caird has managed to still capture their softness and emotion through their eyes.”



Nick Moir
, The Sydney Morning Herald, “Firestorm”

Judges’ comments: “A masterful series that displays Moir’s full range of impressive technical skill. Every image is a breath-taking hero shot. A stunning set of sometimes unexpected pictures, capturing the enormity and armageddon of the fires.”


 

Winners are also announced for four photography prizes.

NIKON-WALKLEY PORTRAIT PRIZE

WINNER

James Brickwood, Australian Financial Review Magazine, “Adam Goodes”

Judges’ comments: “Such a perfect portrait for 2020 – it’s introspective, touching on a range of subject matter from racism in sport to the black lives matter movement. The photo is simple yet well-composed. Despite being on the front of the power issue, it’s a contemplative and dignified photo that we will remember in 20 years’ time. There have been a lot of portraits of Adam Goodes, this is a standout.”


NIKON-WALKLEY COMMUNITY/REGIONAL PRIZE

WINNER

Sylvia Liber, Illawarra Mercury, “Strength and Resilience”

Judges’ comments: “A well-rounded entry that covered a diverse range of topics in an interesting way. This complete body of work showcased Sylvia’s range and ability to capture drama.”

 


NIKON-WALKLEY CONTEMPORARY AUSTRALIAN DAILY LIFE

WINNER

David Gray, Getty Images, “Dealing with drought”

Judges’ comments: “A fantastic set of shots that captures the reality of life in drought. This series contains incredible attention to detail, portraying the subject matter in an original way. Without a weak picture in the set, Gray has taken beautiful, almost painting-like, photos of weathered skin and weathered landscapes. “


NIKON-WALKLEY PHOTO OF THE YEAR

WINNER

Christopher Hopkins, The Age, “I Want to Hold her Hand”

The Nikon-Walkley judges felt Christopher Hopkins’ image of Robyn Becker and her family powerfully captured the emotion of 2020. The judges said “the warmth and sense of connection while we are all still in this moment of borders and barriers is just so powerful. Beautifully composed with great emotion, this is tenderness.”

The finalists’ photographs will be on display free of charge at an exhibition at NSW Parliament House, Fountain Court from Tuesday November 3, 2020 to Wednesday January 13, 2021.

The Walkleys thank Nikon for 21 years of partnership in the annual photography awards and prizes. And thanks to the judges:

  • Bob Barker, photographer
  • Cherine Fahd, Director of Photography, UTS
  • Cameron Tandy, Head of Vision, Herald Sun
  • Nicky Catley, Photo Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald
  • Judith Crispin, photographer

For media enquiries, including requests to reprint finalists’ photos online or in print, contact Awards Manager, Lauren Dixon on lauren.dixon@walkleys.com or 0413 212 890.