Josh Niland, the head chef at Saint Peter restaurant in Sydney, has been praised as a trailblazer who is reinventing what can be done with a fish.
Meanwhile, his portrait, taken by fellow Sydneysider Rob Palmer, was this week praised for its "majesty and power", and its "painterliness and composition" by this year's National Photographic Portrait Prize judges, who named it the winner of this year's award on Friday.
"The sitter's embrace of the fish so eloquently conveys his identity as a chef," the judges said in their supporting statement.
And that's effectively what the three judges - National Portrait Gallery curator Penny Grist, Art Gallery of South Australia curator Nici Cumpston and artist Naomi Hobson - were looking for. An image that could tell the story of the sitter, as well as display a connection between the subject and the photographer.
But narrowing down to just one portrait that demonstrates that is a tough ask. There were between 2500 and 3000 entrants in this year's award, which was whittled down to 48 finalists in what curator and judge Penny Grist says is a strong year for the Portrait Prize.
"There's a strength and a truth and an authenticity and a strong connection with identity in the image," Grist says,
"Every year I think it's really interesting that the prize always brings out those artists who are really pushing the boundaries of portraiture. And photographic portraiture really lends itself to that exploration."
Such was the case for Writing on the Wall, by Dr Christian Thompson. At first glance the photo looks like it captured a floral arrangement, but at closer inspect you can see a pair of eyes staring from the centre of the image, and two sets of hands sprinkling wattle from one to another, as if they were hourglasses.
Of course, the inclusion of visual metaphors is not unusual for the Portrait Prize entries. In the case of this year's entry from Kelly Champion called The Champion, it came in the form of blank pages hanging behind the sitter, Susan Beale.
"Susan Beale is this incredible paediatrician who was the one who did the research and discovered the causes of sudden infant death syndrome, and has saved countless lives," Grist says.
"This process she went through of interviewing more than 500 families who had lost their babies in order to work out what was happening, is sort of represented in these black pages behind. It's a subtle background but it's a very powerful image.
"Some true Australian heroes come through and it's just fascinating to have a chance to learn about these people's lives."
Other photos, however, were more spontaneous, such as House painters by Graham Monro. As the name suggests, Monro took a photo of his two tattooed, house painters for this Portrait Prize finalist.
"This is a photographer who knew he had some awesome sitters when he saw them," Grist says.
"The choices he's made in terms of the selection of the image, it looks like it's between posed shots because there's a naturalness to their presence and their relationship with each other. But he's chosen to keep the edge of the bin in and this beautiful backdrop just highlights their tats.
"And just their lovely connection between the two of them joking around. It's so interesting how we react as human beings and the warmth conveyed between people is so palpably communicated in a really good portrait."
The National Photographic Portrait Prize is on show, along with the Darling Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery until May 10. Tickets are $15.