Named in honour of the late portrait photographer Martin Kantor, the acquisitive first prize of $15,000 is awarded to an exceptional portrait of a significant Australian recognised within their field of art, letters, science, sport or politics. This exhibition presents the 28 award finalists.

Martin Kantor was a photographer and philanthropist known for his arresting portraits of famous musicians and artists including Iggy Pop, Howard Arkley, Adam Cullen, Dale Frank and Mark Seymour. Kantor founded Brightspace Gallery, St Kilda. This award is proudly supported by the Dara Foundation.


  • Naomi Cass, Director Castlemaine Art Museum
  • Max Delany, Artistic Director Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
  • Bill Henson, Photographic Artist
  • Fiona Sweet, Artistic Director Ballarat International Foto Biennale

Award Winners

Judges awarded the Martin Kantor Portrait Prize 2021 to Mia Mala McDonald for her portrait of AFLW footballer, Darcy Vescio, with an acquisitive first prize of $15,000. The judges said, “High production values and staging of popular traditions of commercial portrait photography, but with a subtle and uncanny directorial mode, and framing which bestows character to the subject, reflecting a new generation of sporting and cultural and sporting achievement… Surrounded by gold and glitter here is a relaxed young woman comfortable in her body, humble even, looking away from the viewer. Here is someone so accomplished she is happy to strike a new pose for a new way of thinking about women in high-profile sport.”

Honourable mentions were given to:
John Gollings, Self Portrait, 2020
Suzanne Phoenix, Amy Taylor, 2019
Rudi Williams, Yanni Florence and Louise Fairweather in front of Louise’s butterfly collection, 2021

The People’s Choice Award winner is John Gollings, Self Portrait, 2020