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Australian Institute Of Professional Photography Exhibition
A set of dog portraits is the overall winner in the Australian Professional Photography Awards.
Genre: Photography
Location: Chifley Plaza
Address: 2 Chifley Square, Sydney
Date: 25 August 2008 to 20 September 2008
Tickets: Free admission
Details: Monday to Friday from 7am to 6pm and Saturday from 9.30am to 4pm.

Two years ago a heart attack suffered in the emergency ward of a hospital prevented Mercury Megaloudis from attending the national awards night for commercial photographers. This year, his heart fluttered for a different reason: he won the top prize.

Megaloudis, now restored to health, was named Professional Photographer of the Year in awards judged by his peers around the country. His winning work was a set of four canine portraits that range from an inquisitive poodle to a doleful bitser.

On Monday night, he will open a free travelling exhibition of his pictures and other winners from the 2008 Canon Australian Professional Photography Awards.

The exhibition spans several categories including advertising, documentary, illustrative, landscape and science. Among other winners are pictures of aquatic creatures, candid wedding moments and the stark curves of modern architecture jutting into the sky.

Megaloudis concedes he was surprised by his win. In the awards ceremony, he initially collected the award for portraits, but was surprised at being named the overall winner.

'My portfolio was up against people I really respected. And I thought, 'Good luck, Mercury.' My budget sits at about $300 to $500. Theirs are $80,000 budgets.'

The Melbourne-based Megaloudis had already made a sideline in his commercial photography business with his pet portraits. With the win, he is now making a name for his ability to capture the character of a dog.

In a lot of ways, they're easier to work with, he believes.

Asked whether the key ingredient in capturing a dog's personality depends more on compliance or patience, Megaloudis says it takes a bit of each. But he sometimes strikes it lucky.

'I've had dogs come in and people have paid a lot of money to photograph their dog, and I've got it done within three minutes.'

Those are the dream jobs but he says he simply enjoys taking portraits of children and animals, and dogs in particular.

'They're not going to complain. 'I look fat there. I don't like my nose there.' It's none of that,' he says.

'People say never work with children and animals. I say, leave them to Mercury.'

Image and text by Sydney Morning Herald, Australia

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