Hunter Photography Prize 2017 winners | photos

ARTIST and jewellery designer Jo Davis’ sun-drenched image of her son with seagulls at Newcastle Ocean Baths has won the summer round of the 2017 Hunter Photography Prize.

In for a landing: Leanne Maffesoni has been photographing whales and dolphins to aid research for more than 10 years but only started taking pictures of birds recently.

“It’s absolutely unreal,” Ms Davis said after her photo was judged as the best from hundreds of entries that were published across the region’s Fairfax Media titles. “I love photography and am always uploading photos on Facebook, so it’s exciting that people appreciate what I do.”

Ms Davis and her family had brought fish and chips to the baths one afternoon in late January when seagulls started swooping for a feed.

“My youngest son Harper, 7, started running up the steps to scare them away – but I love how the way he’s running makes it look like he’s the one being chased,” she said. “It’s an iconic Newcastle scene of summer with seagulls, chips and kids on a hot afternoon.”

Senior Fairfax photographer Simone De Peak said the image was a “beautifully candid and quintessential Newcastle moment captured perfectly, showcasing our coastal lifestyle”.

Ms Davis’ resin and acrylic paintings are already exhibited in restaurants and shops across the city: “I’m definitely a creative but I can’t work out which passion to stick with. I’m looking at returning to work this year and maybe photography is something I should be looking at. Winning is a confident booster.”

Ms Davis said her family lost many of their photos when a fire damaged their house a few years ago: “It’s made me want to capture more moments and I upload everything online now as a way of keeping them safe and in one place – and to show to all my family in Tamworth.”

Leanne Maffesoni’s image of a flesh-footed shearwater off Port Stephens was highly commended.

“I did not expect to get to the finalists, so this is amazing,” said Ms Maffesoni, who also photographs whales and dolphins. “I’ve always been an animal person and just saw David Attenborough in Sydney this week. I took this photo in November when I went out to the [continental] shelf with a local bird group. I like that it’s a bit unusual – you can just see the back of it and it looks like it’s walking up the waves.”

Erin Murphy won the readers’ choice award for her shot of her 13-year-old border collie-cross, Banjo, soaking up a Caves Beach sunrise.

All three women collected camera prizes. 

Look out for the autumn round of the competition.