Professional and amateur photographers worldwide were invited to enter the third International Portrait Photographer of the Year competition for a chance to share in the prize pool of US$10,000 cash, and make it into the top 101 images to be included in the Awards Book. The winner of the International Portrait Photographer of the Year has been announced as Forough Yavari of Australia.
Forough Yavari is an award-winning fine art portrait and fashion photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. Inspired by her life experiences as a woman, Forough’s work focuses on portraying the narrative behind the lives of women from around the world.
Born in Iran during the Iranian Revolution, Forough was passionate about art from a young age, drawing and painting imaginary subjects as a child. She went on to formally pursue painting in university, where she discovered her passion for photography while modelling for a photography student.
Forough began creating digital art, combining her knowledge and technical expertise in painting and photography. In 2011, she moved to Australia, where she built her photography business and became established as an international photographer. Increasingly, she found her work to be influenced by her personal experience as a woman from a middle eastern country. Her interest in women’s issues led to a series of images, “Revision of Portraits”, “Eternal Icons”, and “Salvation” which were exhibited in Iran and Australia.
In 2018, Forough was awarded the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) Master of Photography. She was awarded the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) Master of Photography in 2019, and the Double Master of Photography from WPPI in 2020. She received her Master of Photography with Distinction from the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography (NZIPP) in 2021.
“I mostly use Capture One and Photoshop for my post-production. Post-production for me is like the final touch, enhancing the story, or adding the atmosphere, or making a composite where it is not possible to take the image in one shot. During my journey in photography and fine art, I learned good technique is as necessary as having creativity in my work. Knowing your camera and mastering the gear you are working with, especially lighting, is a foundation for a good image when combined with one’s creativity.
“When I started painting, all my interest was in painting or drawing people and their faces. I have never been interested in still life. So when I picked up photography, I found myself more interested in taking portraits. People for me are the main subject to study, to know more about them. Exploring their personality. Hearing about their life experiences and capturing those feelings, expressions, and characters. I’ve always been inspired by painters like Rembrandt, Delacroix, Goya, mostly Romantic and Baroque painters. Since the early stages of my photography career, I’ve been more inspired by women photographers like Shirin Neshat and Lalla Essaydi, and Annie Leibovitz for her techniques and stories behind her images.
“I participate in the ‘International Portrait Photographer of the Year’ competition because it offers an exceptional platform to showcase my portrait photography skills and gain international recognition. By entering this prestigious competition, I am encouraged to explore diverse approaches, subjects and techniques, which enhances my creative abilities, enabling me to refine my craft further. The prospect of winning or being acknowledged in this esteemed contest bolsters my confidence, validates my dedication and opens doors to new opportunities within the portrait photography realm.
“Ultimately, engaging in this competition ignites my passion for portraiture and allows me to share my vision with a global audience.”
Other category winners are:
The Character Study
Frederic Aranda, United Kingdom
The Environmental Portrait
Jo Kearney, United Kingdom
Joseph Smith, Malta
Raoul Slater, Australia
The top 101 is the result of expert opinions collaborating to curate a wonderful exhibit of the world’s best contemporary portrait photography. For all the details and winners, including the preliminary flip book, please visit the website