The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is an exhibition of international stature. An annual presentation of some of the most skilled, creative and discerning image-makers from across the world, it documents the rise of emerging talent and the profile of established names.
Hosted by the wonderful National Portrait Gallery, this year’s showcase maintains its status as the pre-eminent photographic prize. Competition judge and Head of Photographs at the NPG Dr Philip Prodger says that this exhibition “shows the full range of human creative expression” and describes the process of judging as “exhilarating and gruelling”.
The images on display are beautiful, challenging, difficult and stunning. There is a full range of subject – from mundane to the fantastic – and approach – from formal to candid, each with its own attributes and qualities. There is a relaxed portrait of the Obamas by Gillian Laub that offers an intimate glimpse at one of the most politically powerful couples in the world.
Look out for London College of Fashion alumna Aleksandra Kingo’s colourful portrait of French singer Yelle, as well as the amazing Sophie Green’s image Danielle – both photographers have previously been featured on Pigeons & Peacocks and it is wonderful to see them going from strength to strength. Another P&P favourite, Nadia Lee Cohen, won the coveted prize in 2012.
The work of all the participants shows that there is beauty, integrity and sense of value in every moment.
This year, David Stewart won the prestigious first place prize of £12 000 for his image Five Girls 2014, a follow up from his 2008 entry, in which he shows his daughter with her four friends sitting at a table. In the first image, the friends were just about to start their GCSEs whereas the group now have just graduated from university. This is the sixteenth year that Stewart has been selected to participate in the exhibition.
One of our favourites, however, is Jules in the Sink by Sophie Ebrard, which shows the nostalgic and intimate moment of a baby being bathed in the sink. Ebrard, who has been working as a photographer for the last five years, has recently hosted an exhibition of her work It’s Just Love – a series of images documenting the life of porn director. Jules in the Sink seems a million miles away from her previous work but Ebrard says, “my style is similar no matter what the subject – I try to find beauty everywhere.” The image of the bathing baby – Ebrard’s own son – is certainly beautiful, though surprisingly, the photographer isn’t its biggest fan: “It was not my first choice but people seem to love it. I loved the moment but I never thought of it as a great picture. Everyone else loves it though. It’s my first time here in the Taylor Wessing Prize and it’s very special that the image is of my son.” From this photograph alone, it is certain that this won’t be Ebrard’s only time in the exhibition.
One of the most magnificent things about living in London is that it provides a constant source of inspiration, and the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is absolutely inspiring. This is a must-see exhibition for all creatives, one which will stir your emotions and raise your standards, and more than likely, will make you want to rush out and buy a proper camera as soon as possible.