Monday, 28 February 2011

Look at reality through the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize

Went to go and see the last week of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery.

"The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2010 presents the very best in contemporary portrait photography, showcasing the work of talented young photographers and gifted amateurs alongside that of established professionals and photography students.
Through editorial, advertising and fine art images, the entrants have explored a range of themes, styles and approaches to the contemporary photographic portrait, from formal commissioned portraits to more spontaneous and intimate moments capturing friends and family".

What I admired about this years exhibition is the concept of striving to find the 'real' in reality. Every image had an in depth story and truthfulness about it, nothing seemed compositioned in order to express an opinion. (All except Steven Barrittt's admitted self portrait of; Untitled from the series Analogous Mythography in which the arranged detail in this image was cleverly positioned, to form that of an obsessive Britney Spears fan - to put it frankly, though this image is not to be underestimated as simply as that).
Not wanting to take my time I found myself surprisingly encapsulated to stay at each frame longer than Trafalgar's traffic lights; what could be perceived as a simple 'headshot' became, to me, actually a door/window into not only the sitters life, but that of the photographer. By selecting just one image, caught a precise moment of innocent realism, the simple beauty in the photographers connection with the sitter. To me, that is what made the Taylor Wessing Awards the most contemporary and engaging of exhibitions I have seen.

Most of the images varied in content, tone and subject matter. What I was pleasantly surprised by was the amount of portraits that focused on the single female shots. I have to mention Abbie Trayler-Smith, with Untitled 2, (part of an ongoing series), Jeffrey Stockbridge, with Tic Tac and Tootsie (twin sisters Carroll and Shelly Mckean) from the series Nowhere but Here, Panayiotis Lamprou, with Portrait of My British Wife, from the series Human Presence and the first prize to; David Chancellor, with Huntress with Buck from the series Hunters. All of which gained places within this exhibition, all of which focused primarily on the female form/role.

Very interesting work from this years entrants!

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