Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015
The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is an annual fixture at the National Portrait Gallery and always features some fantastic images. This year is no exception, with close to 5,000 entries whittled down to a small selection for this exhibition.
The overall winner features five young women who have graduated from university, ready to embark into the world of work. With mobile phones and coffee on the table in front of them it could be just an ordinary scene, but they have been posed dramatically so that they all seem to be staring into space in different directions with none looking at each other or the photographer — yet all contemplating their futures.
The added strength lies in that it’s a companion piece of a photograph of the same five when they were about to start their GCSEs seven years previously, to show how their fashion sense, their hairstyles and they have matured. Yet we can’t see the other photograph as the curators have chosen to not include it within this show — a terrible mistake in our view as the winning image loses its strength without the reference point and is not on the same level as last year’s stunning winner.
As for the rest of this exhibition it once again includes a few celebrity photographs, which we always think detracts from the exhibition as they lack the impact of the other shots. There are some spectacular efforts including a homeless man lost in the shadow of a traffic light, just as the world around him has chosen to ignore him — this image captures him after an entire day of fruitless begging.
Another favourite of ours are the pictures of amputee children from war zones by Kai Wiedenhofer. Rather than eliciting the viewer’s sympathy these youngsters stand proudly showing their indomitable spirit.
Unfortunately this year’s crop lacks consistency and, given the large number of entries, we were surprised by some of those that had made the final cut as they often felt like they were in a different class to the better photographs on display.
Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 is on at National Portrait Gallery until 21 February 2016. Tickets are £4 for adults, concessions £3.