Golden Hour, captured by Natalie Grono from Lennox Head.
Golden Hour, captured by Natalie Grono from Lennox Head. Natalie Grono

What does it mean to be Australian?

THOUSANDS of amateur photographers and professionals nationwide have picked up the camera to capture 'Australian Life', and two of the finalists are from our backyard.

This year the City of Sydney's annual photography competition has received more than 1300 entries, making it the largest ever number of entries in the competition's 15-year history.

Competing for a $10,000 prize, 22 photographs were selected by judges founder of Head On Photo Festival, Moshe Rosenzveig, award-winning photographer, Dean Sewell, and visual arts curator Nina Miall.

Among the finalists is Golden Hour, captured by Natalie Grono - a former finalist in an earlier Australian Life - depicting a group of sun-bathed kids from Lennox Head Primary School, decked out with surfing and skateboarding gear.

"I wanted to create this portrait of the young girls to show the strength of female surfing in the small town of Lennox Head and also how empowering this is for young girls,” Ms Grono said.

"This image depicts the ultimate in Australian life, friendships made with a love of the outdoors, epic afternoon sunlight and the growing empowerment and freedom our children experience.”

Another finalist includes a portrait of an Aboriginal woman in Ross River in the Northern Territory, titled Beryl and Jesus by Amy Jean Harding from New Brighton.

And she's no amateur, having also made the finalist cut in last year's competition.

My Harding attends The Big Sing in the desert, an annual event where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australian's get together for a four day singing workshop.

"My job was to document the two cultures coming together through song,” Ms Harding said.

"Beryl and I have formed a relationship over the last six years which has enabled me to take a photo like Beryl and Jesus.

"It's pretty intimate for her... they are shy women.

"(At the event) there are these ancient Christian hymns being sung in an even older language as they (the Aboriginal women) sing them in their own language.

She said her subject Beryl "walks in both worlds” in terms of being part of the Aboriginal culture and embracing Western culture as well.

Being a finalist for the second year in a row was a "buzz”, she said and "reconfirms that (she) is doing the right thing”.

Amy Jean Harding - Beryl and Jesus
Amy Jean Harding - Beryl and Jesus Amy Jean Harding

Australian Life finalists will be exhibited in a large-scale exhibition along the St James walkway of Hyde Park from September 14 to October 8.

The winner will be announced before the exhibition opening.

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