A “message to the future” featuring Footscray entertainer Ocoro has snapped up the $1000 first prize in a photography contest.

Art Thai Studio photographer Wirut Khemnak won Victoria University’s Picturing Bluscray competition with his street scene portrait of Ocoro, the Footscray ‘hip-hop master’ in pensive pose and draped with the Australian flag.

Almost 100 photographers entered 218 images in the competition, judged by award-winning Age photographer Simon O’Dwyer.

Mr Khemnak said Ocoro stood out as an obvious choice. “He’s dancing every day to make everyone happy so I thought, there’s the one. I asked, ‘Can I take your photo?’ because he looked very natural.”

“Normally I am a landscape photographer but I do a lot of portraits, we shared ideas for the photo.”

Wirut Khemnak with his winning entry at the opening night of Victoria University’s Picturing Bluscray exhibition.

Wirut Khemnak with his winning entry at the opening night of Victoria University’s Picturing Bluscray exhibition.

Mr Khemnak, who arrived in Australia from Bangkok five years ago, said people still misunderstand Footscray.

“I’ve been working here for four years. When I first came everyone tells me Footscray is not a good place. But when I come here I say Footscray is a beautiful suburb, people are friendly, you can eat many types of food.”

Ocoro, known for his street performances, says he wants people to realise what a great place Footscray is.

“I live in Footscray here and every day I talk about Footscray, I try to change the environment through my dancing,” he said.

“The picture we have here is a message. Footscray looks dirty now but Footscray will become different. The name will not change but the environment will be more beautiful, that’s what I’m thinking about in the picture.”

Second prize was awarded to Brunswick resident Rosie Howell for a blue print of the Bunbury Street railway bridge while Jaye Heraud of Yarraville received  third prize for her depiction of Mazu, the Heavenly Queen, on the banks of the Maribyrnong River.

The Picturing BluScray photo exhibition is at VU, MetroWest, 138 Nicholson Street, Footscray, until July 22.