A humble teacher living on an historic Merino stud near Nyngan has beaten some of the best photographers among 61 countries to win the major landscape photography prize in the Head On awards.
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Marcia McMillan and her husband Scott manage Mullengudgery Merino Stud, and Marcia, who works as a special needs teacher travelling all over the district, took an amazing picture of her daughter running into a huge dust storm in January.
Mrs McMillan first sent the photo to The Land as a reminder to all of how the drought was still a constant battle, as the nation suffered under the bushfire crisis.
Her photo was then picked up by many international press agencies - some without her permission - and it went worldwide. Marcia even got on the phone from Nyngan to international news desks asking some to take down the photo among those she hadn't given permission to to use it.
Meantime, Marcia kept pursuing an award for her photo, and after not winning a prize in The Land's drought photo competition, she entered the prestigious Head On international photo awards.
Last Friday evening, at an online awards night, she was amazed to learn her photo of her daughter Raphaella running into the dust storm was selected as the best among hundreds of landscape photos sent in from 61 countries - and winning a $15,000 cash prize and other prizes.
To put in perspective Marcia's achievement, the Australian runner-up was Fairfax's Nick Moir, one of the most respected press and landscape photographers in Australia.
Marcia told The Land she had no idea she could win the award. "The last 24 hours have been bit of a whirlwind and been a bit surreal. We really didn't expect to win, as there were so many brilliant entries/finalists."
Marcia called her entry "whimsical warrior" and described the photo as showing her daughter as "a farm girl who likes to dress up taking on the force of nature."
Marcia's photo will now be showcased in an international Head On photo exhibition. She has also won a new Sony A7R1V camera and a lot of other photo goodies to help her purse her love of photography.
Head On is a photographic not-for-profit organisation set up in 2008 to help bridge the gap between Australian and international photographers. The entries for the award are selected by judges with them not knowing who the photographer is, so that it is inclusive of all people. The competition has put in more than $500,000 in prizes to the photographic community since its inception. It also runs a portrait award and a student award.
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