Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize 2014

An annual portrait photography treat

I always try to see the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize exhibition, and its predecessor the Kobal prize before that. Usually I see it at at the National Portrait Gallery but sometimes at one of its touring stops. 

Touring shows like this really helps shift the arts away from being London centred. 

The appeal of the photographic portrait

Apparently we all find looking at other people interesting which could explain some of the appeal of this show. I also enjoy this annual exhibition  because I find taking portraits challenging, so admire those who can take well crafted portraits with equally well composed subjects. 

Helen at  the British Museum

Did I mean this portait to be of Helen or the giant bear?



Raising the bar

While the quality and originality is always a strong feature of this prize something else stood out this year. 

It was the number of exhibitors who were either published or had exhibited their work elsewhere. Amongst all the photographers published in national and international print publications were several whose work I had seen in print. Sometimes where the portrait exhibited was part of a larger body of work. The number of contestants who had previous solo or group exhibitions was very high too. 

Discussing it afterwards with a friend who went with me we could not remember this being the case in previous years. Certainly the rules don’t require entries only from published or exhibited photographers. 

Perhaps it’s simply the nature of competition that contestants who know what editors and galleries are looking for will succeed?

Don’t let that sombre thought put you off seeing the exhibition. And perhaps entering next year?

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About Rick Lawrence

Making models and playing tabletop games since the late 1960s, and still enjoying it! Now working in heritage and dabbing around with photography, with quality cafe time when I can.

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