National Photographic Portrait Prize

If a picture can speak a thousand words, some faces tell a thousand stories – like the face of Jack Charles.

Jack Charles is a member of the stolen generation, taken from his mother in 1943 when he was four months old and raised in the Box Hill Boys School, growing up totally ignorant of his Aboriginal heritage.

He spent time on the streets, in jail and trapped in heroin addiction.

Throughout it all, he sustained a decades-long friendship with Melbourne photographer Rod McNicol.

Now McNicol has won this year’s National Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery with a photo of Jack.

The contemporary photography prize doesn’t deliberately set out to show a cross-section of Australian life and experience but that’s what’s portrayed by the 46 finalists that are chosen from more than 1,500 entries to go on show.

The exhibition will start in Canberra and travel to several interstate and regional galleries.

This year, older faces seem to be the flavour du jour.

I’m more used to seeing Jack like this – as he gets ready to putput past my front gate.