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Tayla Harris and Michael Willson complete the #WISPAA – Women in Sport Photo Action Awards trifecta

Tayla Harris and Michael Willson have completed the #WISPAA trifecta, with the professional category winner announced today for the 2021 Women in Sport Photo Action Awards.

Award-winning AFL Media photographer Willson has once again captured AFLW player Harris on the field of play, in action for the Carlton Football Club.

The image, titled ‘The Leaning Tower Of Tayla’ captures Harris taking a towering mark over fellow players at VU Whitten Oval taken in February 2021. This follows the previous winning images of Harris, ‘The Kick’ in 2019, and ‘From the Kick to the Punch’ in 2020, both captured by Willson. 

The incredible photo was praised by  #WISPAA judges Senator Richard Colbeck – Minister for Sport, award-winning journalist and author Samantha Lane; Director of Editorial for Getty Images Asia Pacific, Cassie Trotter; and Newscorp Head of Sports Partnerships, Selina Steele. 

“The strength of this image is in its unique composition. It is akin to a renaissance painting with the athletes’ arms intertwined, reaching towards the peak of the frame, drawing us into Tayla Harris showcasing her athleticism and power and highlighting a rare moment with so many athletes contesting the ball,” said #WISPAA judge Cassie Trotter.  

“The choice to submit the image black and white adds to the drama and feeling we’re witnessing a historic moment in the heat of battle. The player’s eyes closed as they collide adds to the impact of the photograph.” 

The winner of the amateur #WISPAA category for 2021 is also a former winner – Queensland photographer Casey Sims. The image shows Liz Clay securing her spot on the Australian Olympic Team as well as winning the 100m at the Australian Track & Field Championships in April 2021.

“The photographer captured a defining moment; one athlete’s apparent triumph draws our attention, and as we meander through the frame, we see hints of defeat, desperation, and despair.  The image is very well-composed and is punctuated by the beautiful rim light on the subject making this a worthy winner for a very talented amateur,” said Trotter.

In 2021 #WISPAA also included a News Corp People’s Choice vote to find the fan-favourite images. The winning People’s Choice image for the professional category is ‘To the beat of her drum’ captured by John Rohloff, and the winning People’s Choice image for the amateur category is ‘Punching through the sandbar’ captured by last year’s People’s Choice winning photographer Malcolm Trees.

Two-time #WISPAA judge Samatha Lane reflected on all of the winning images and how they inspire the community. 

“Quite aside from the fact that the stars of this show are awe-inspiring and powerful women athletes in full-flight, these winning images freeze-frame so much of what I love about sport: suspense, thrill, skill and backstories aplenty,” said Lane.

“For someone who can but dream of being so athletically talented, the next best thing is to behold images like these, imagine those backstories, feel inspired and cheer on a movement that’s bigger than sport.”

The judges also selected two runner-up images in both categories chosen from the 15 professional and 15 amateur #WISPAA finalists.

The two professional #WISPAA runners-up are:

1. ‘Grace and Grunt’, Slalom Canoe; Image by John Rohloff (NSW).

Noemie Fox on her way to a podium finish in the Women’s C1 events at the Penrith Open 2 in March, 2021.

2. ‘Caught in the Webb’, Cricket; Image by Jason McCawley (NSW).

Courtney Webb of the Renegades takes a catch to dismiss Ellyse Perry of the Sixers during the Women’s Big Bash League WBBL match between the Sydney Sixers and the Melbourne Renegades at North Sydney Oval, on November 21, 2020, in Sydney, Australia.

The two amateur #WISPAA runners-up are:

1. ‘Don’t Look, Pole Vault; Image by Fred Etter (NSW).

Nina Kennedy launching to an Australian pole vault record of 4.82m at the Sydney Track Classic 2021.

2. ‘Fingertip Control’, Rugby Sevens; Image by Stephen Tremain (QLD).

Bella Nasser of University of Queensland scores a try in the AON Uni7s Rugby Sevens competition in April, 2021.

You can download images and information about the two #WISPAA winners and the four runners-up here

Publication of the images must carry this credit: Courtesy of Women Sport Australia and #WISPAA.

You can also view all the winners, runners-up and the other 24 finalists’ images on the WISPAA website here: and on Women Sport Australia’s social media channels – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The 2021 #WISPAA finalist images will be made into a photography exhibition. More details to come.

 #WISPAA is a product of Women Sport Australia (WSA), the peak national advocacy body for women in sport. Become a member by clicking here.

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