When photographer Rob Palmer first got the call to tell him he had won the National Photographic Portrait Prize, he was so sure that he hadn't won that he asked the caller to call back later.
The Sydneysider was in the middle of a photoshoot at the time and was adamant that the call must have been to ask him to fill out some paperwork. And so, the photographer delayed the unexpected news another six hours, before the Portrait Gallery called a second time.
It wasn't until the news was officially announced on Friday that Palmer registered how much he had actually won - $30,000 as well as $22,000 worth of photographic equipment.
"I usually go into things thinking that I don't have a chance so that' I'm not disappointed," Palmer said.
Praised for its majesty and power by the prize's three judges, Palmer's winning portrait, The mahi-mahi captured whole-fish chef Josh Niland deftly handing a dolphinfish during a shoot for the restaurateur's cookbook.
"He was just about to show us how he dissects every part of the fish so that it's all used and there's zero waste," Palmer said.
"It was just the moment where he was going to cut the fish up and he laid this giant mahi-mahi out and we were just like 'wow, stop there'. Hold that, we need to light this, this is a stunning image.
"It was this moment where it was almost like there was no one else in the room. It was just him and this fish. He had this affinity for the fish laying out before him."
Joining Palmer among the accolades was Hugh Stewart who received the Highly Commended prize for his portrait of 105-year-old dancer Eileen Krammer.
The works of Stewart, Palmer, and the rest of the 48 finalists in the 13th National Photographic Portrait Prize will be on show at the gallery until May 10.
"[It's] one of our most popular exhibitions, offering equal billing for amateur and professional photographers," National Portrait Gallery director Karen Quinlan said.
"This year we see works of astounding quality and breadth from across the nation - many pushing the boundaries of photographic portraiture, and each reflecting quintessentially Australian stories."
There was, however, a shadow cast over this year's award with Friday evening's official opening event cancelled due to the coronavirus.
The event, which would have seen the public announcement of the prize, was expected to have 500 people in attendance, meaning the event space would have been "shoulder to shoulder".
"The situation that we are in is fluid and dynamic and changing by the day," Ms Quinlan said.
"It's important to note that the health of our visitors and the wider community is of utmost importance at this time."
The gallery itself will remain open its usual hours.