I was thrilled last night to learn that I had won the grand prize for the 2014 Head On Portrait Prize for this image:
The image came from a story that I shot for Good Weekend Magazine about the children's hospice organization Bear Cottage and some of the families who rely on their resources and care. This image in particular came as a result of a wonderful experience meeting the family of Kirrilee Edwards. I felt really welcomed to be with them, to feel their warmth, their sense of humor and love. The Edwards family is a big family and they faced a profound number of struggles because of Kirrilee's devastating illness, but what I saw was an incredible closeness. I felt the best way to give the sense of this family was to show how closely connected they were to Kirrilee and each other. A few months after I shot this image Kirrilee passed away.
I feel an immense sense of gratitude that the Edwards family would let me into their home, welcome me in the way that they did and allow me to be a part in telling their story. For that reason I'm giving half of the prize money that I've won to them. I'm including information below to make donations to Kirrilee's family and Bear Cottage.
Make a Donation to the Edwards family via direct deposit: Troy Edwards Commonwealth Bank of Australia BSB: 062 601 Account: 103 506 78 Memo: Kirrilee
You can read my original blog entry here about Kirrilee, the shoot and the other families: http://www.joewigdahl.com/sick-kids/.
UPDATE 21/05/2014: Several news outlets who have picked up this story have erroneously stated that Kirrilee was dying or on her deathbed when this image was taken and this is not true. She was at home and healthy at the time of the photoshoot. It is true that a few months after I shot this image Kirrilee passed away at Bear Cottage.