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Is it a melancholy expression, perhaps something deeper? Or are we putting our Western eyes across a subject that is beautifully posed and lit? However people react, Polly Fenton's emotive portrait has won the 2019 Better Photography Magazine Photo of the Year!

The winning photo was taken on a trip with Inger Vandyke of Wild Image Photo Tours in February 2019. "We were visiting the tribes of the Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia", explained Polly.

The portrait is of Nagudo, of the 'Suri' or Surmi tribe, and photographed in a remote village near Kibish. Explained Polly, "Nagudo used decorative scarification, piercing and copper adornments to emphasise her individualism and confidence within her society.

"During our stay of several days, I found the Suri exuded a beautiful inner personal warmth and mystic. This is what I was attempting to capture in this photograph. They were an absolute delight to engage with and it was a truly inspiring and humbling experience that I will never forget."

Polly used a Fujifilm X-T2 with an XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 R LM OIS lens. As she was shooting in a darkish hut, the settings were 1/80 second at f4, ISO 3200.

"In post-production, I darkened the background with the adjustment brush and also used this to enhance her eyes and soften her skin. Overall, I slightly increased exposure, contrast and whites with a touch of dehaze. Using the HSL sliders, I gently adjusted the green, blue and aqua to lift the colour of her shawl. I felt that nothing else was required."

And we think Polly was exactly right - nothing else was required!

Polly wins the overall first prize which is a cash purse of AUS $5000, plus a NiSi Filters 100mm Professional Kit Third Generation Kit. Thanks to Nisi!

In addition, Polly was the Emotive Portrait category winner and she and the other five category winners will receive a wonderful package of goodies, comprising a Datacolor SpyderX Pro, a Canson Infinity paper pack, a Momento Pro voucher to a value of $150, and a Wacom Intuos Pro Small.

The category winners were:

2019 Emotive Portrait Category Winner: Polly Fenton

2019 Incredible Sport Category Winner: Alain Schroeder (Alain won last year too!)

2019 Exotic Travel Category Winner: Kent Olsson

2019 Creative Flair Category Winner: Marcel van Balken

2019 Classic Landscape Category Winner: Allen Koppe

2019 Revealing Nature Category Winner: Christian Vizl

Thanks to our wonderful sponsors for supporting our competition. And thanks also to our esteemed judges Peter Eastway, David Oliver and Tony Hewitt, AIPP Grand Masters of Photography.

Entrants can now log into their accounts on the website to see their results. Remember, a Bronze Award is given where the judges can see some elements of photographic skill and imagination and want to acknowledge what the entrant has submitted. 

Silvers are harder to attain and Gold awards harder still. Silvers and golds really have to be earned, so congratulations to these winners.

Each entry also received a short judge comment which will hopefully be of use to entrants for the future. So, if you entered, you can log back into your account at the website to see your scores and read your comments.