Kenneth O’Halloran’s photo of young girl on her Holy Communion chosen out of 320k entries from 200 countries.

Irish photographer Kenneth O’Halloran was chosen as the winner of the 2017 Ireland National Award in photography and has been placed on a short list for world winner in the Open Portrait category, in the Hennessy Portrait Prize, out of 320,000 entries from 200 countries. The competition was sponsored by Sony.

His portrait of a young girl, Winnie Lawrence, in her remarkable First Communion outfit now hangs in Ireland’s National Gallery.

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Describing to the gallery how he took the photograph O’Halloran stated: "Many things go into the creation of a good portrait: an interesting location, lighting, the subject's expression, but sometimes all it takes is a little luck. I don’t believe in the idea that a portrait reveals the soul or inner being, or essence of the sitter.

#TECH #Photography Congrats to @KenOHalloran who has won the Ireland National accolade from @Sony World Photography Awards 2018 @worldphotoorg via @buzzdotie

— (@buzzdotie) March 20, 2018

A sense of vulnerability is important for the picture to work. It should also be engaging and insightful for the viewer. I first met Winnie with her family at the annual Africa Day celebrations in Farmleigh House in Dublin. I was commissioned by the Irish Times to cover the event which is a celebration of the culture, diversity and links to Ireland of the continent’s fifty-four countries. I photographed Winnie with two other girls, Yewande Ogunnaike and Favour Nwoga, who were competing in the Miss Africa competition.

All three wore tiaras. Winnie was celebrating her first Holy Communion with her parents, brothers and sisters. I took a few family photographs and promised to deliver the images in person at a later date. Two weeks later I delivered the photographs and spoke to Winnie’s mother about the possibility of making a portrait of her as a solitary figure, only this time using the back garden as a location."

Last chance to see the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2017 in our Portrait Gallery - it closes tomorrow at 5.30pm. 24 works by this year's shortlisted artists, as well as the winners from past years. Admission free. (Artists L-R: Kenneth O'Halloran, Eoghan McGrath, Cian McLoughlin)

— Nat Gallery Ireland (@NGIreland) February 24, 2018

Kenneth O’Halloran (b.1968) is a photographer based in Dublin. He was born in the west of Ireland and is a graduate of the Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin. He holds a Masters in Fine Art Photography from the University of Ulster, Belfast.

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