When a Picture Tells a Thousand Words

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Portrait of Annette Baker. Copyright: Natalie Ord 2016

A photograph of a local mental health advocate will be featured at the National Portrait Gallery as part of the National Photographic Portrait Prize.

The photograph of Annette Baker was taken by Chiltern professional photographer Natalie Ord, who was inspired by the Baker family’s commitment to encouraging conversations about suicide and mental health.

The Baker family has spoken openly and candidly about suicide and mental health since losing their daughter Mary to suicide, and are the inspiration behind the Winter Solstice and Big Splash events.

Ord had been commissioned to photograph the Winter Solstice event in 2016.

“I needed to show her stoicism, acknowledge her pain but also show hope”

“I’d thought about entering the National Photographic Portrait Prize and I knew it had to be someone I admired,” Natalie said.

“Annette kept coming to mind, and one day she phoned me to commission some headshots for her Mental Health Prize and I saw it as a sign.

“I asked Annette and told her I wanted to contribute to the momentum that the Bakers had created of talking about suicide and mental health.

“I wanted to capture Annette, not only as an individual and member of the Baker family, but as a champion of mental health.”

Ord used the Murray River as the location for the shot.

“we were in the water up to our necks getting the shot. I had some expensive camera gear an inch above the water!”

“I needed to show her stoicism, acknowledge her pain but also show hope,” Natalie said.

“The most obvious way was to photograph Annette in the Murray River – a metaphor for life.”

The photography session wasn’t without its challenges.

“The water was still very cold but we were in the water up to our necks getting the shot. I had some expensive camera gear an inch above the water!”

Braving the chilly Murray River has paid off in more ways than one, with Ord’s photograph not only one of 49 finalists from nearly 3000 entries, but the entry has sparked further conversations about mental health and suicide.

“I hope that this portrait of Annette builds on what the Bakers have achieved in bringing suicide awareness to light and highlight the need for more mental health and suicide support services across the country, especially in regional areas,” Natalie said.

The National Photographic Portrait Prize 2017 will be announced on Friday 31 March, with the exhibition in Canberra opening to the public 1 April – 18 June and then will tour a range of venues throughout Australia.

For more information on Natalie Ord and her photography visit http://manifeastophotography.com.au/