A BENDIGO artist has taken out a Victorian award for a confronting black and white photograph of his nephew.

Simon Penrose, 25, last night won a Victorian Indigenous Art Award for his work on paper.

It was the first time the amateur photographer had entered his work in a competition.

The Yorta Yorta man said ahead of the awards that he didn’t expect to take out last night’s prize.

I was asked to put some of my work in, Mr Penrose said.

I highly doubt I’ll win. I am just an amateur.

I would put the prize money towards more equipment and maybe go overseas because I have never been overseas before.

Mr Penrose received $5000 as part of the award.

Simon’s photograph is a confronting, arresting image, the award judges commented on the work.

It delivers a potent and poignant message that makes certain demands on the viewer’s imagination and emotions.

Mr Penrose said his nephew, Jahmaine, was with the family on Christmas Day when the photo was taken.

His family had gone through a bit of a tough time, he said.

This was Christmas Day and everyone was happy and he was sitting on the back porch with a blank expression.

Mr Penrose’s photo is in an exhibition with other award winners in Melbourne.

Exhibition curator Hannah Presley said the photograph was a stand-out in its category.

For me, the gaze of the child (makes it) hard to look away, she said.

I think it is a really well done photo technically. It is really crisp.

Mr Penrose, a mental health worker at the Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-Op, got into photography at school.

I take photos because it is my way to release from work “ it is good for your mental health, he said.

Work can get pretty draining and I love to get out and take photos at the weekend.

It is a great family experience. We go for a drive on the weekends and my kids go exploring while I take photos.

Mr Penrose said he loved photographing landscapes.

He said the number of indigenous artists practising photography was growing.