Creative photos wins top award

Keren Dobia’s photo of a filmmaker is part of her prize-winning portfolio.

PHOTOGRAPHER Keren Dobia has won the AIPP Australian Professional Photographer of the Year award for her stylised portraits of an artist, filmmaker, permaculturist and tanner.

The Melbourne photographer was presented with her award, which includes a prize of $10,000, at a ceremony in late August at Olympic Park in Melbourne.

“It was exciting to win the award, which is highly regarded throughout the industry,” said Dobia. “It’s my first major award and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Dobia entered her portfolio in the portrait category – one of 15 categories in the annual awards run by the Australian Institute of Professional Photography and open to professional photographers from Australia and overseas – which she won.

The portfolios of all category winners were judged by a new panel to select the AIPP Australian Professional Photographer of the Year.

Dobia attended Bialik College and Wesley College, completing her high school in 2004. She started studying fashion design at RMIT but took a break before deciding to study photography at Melbourne Polytechnic (formerly NMIT), where she currently is a lecturer.

Dobia said her grandmother taught her how to draw and her parents supported her interest in painting.

“Ever since I was a child I have had my hand in something creative,” she said.

Dobia described the style of her photography as theatrical and creative portraiture, with each photo telling the person’s story in a cinematic and stylised way resulting in a work of art.

“Before taking a photo, I interview the subject, usually in the home to see if that is the best place to take the photo,” she explained.

“I will style it there if suitable, otherwise I will create or build a space to do the shot, sometimes making the costumes and the props.

“It’s not just turning up and taking a photo – for most of my photos I spend half a day to a full day to create the setting, and then about 10 minutes to shoot if it all goes to plan. I try to create the images in the camera.”

Dobia said the artist featured in her portfolio is a friend of her mother who loves the old masters, so she suggested an artistic concept for the photo.

“The filmmaker surrounded by film reels is the artist’s husband, while the permaculture supporter works on sustainable living,” she said.

“The final photo is of a leather tanner who practises his craft in the traditional way, doing everything by hand using natural ingredients.

“The four people are great characters and I’m looking for more people to photograph for an exhibition and book that I’m planning to do next year.

“They can be filmmakers, designers, taxidermists, street artists, composers, poets and artisans – anyone who is creative and lives in Australia.”

Dobia said she is still looking at funding options for the photographic series.

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