For the first time ever, five photographers have been shortlisted for the £12,000 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, the major international photography award. Firmly established as the leading showcase for new talent in portrait photography, the prize is sponsored by international law firm Taylor Wessing
The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2011 will showcase the work of some of the most talented emerging young photographers, alongside that of established professionals, photography students and gifted amateurs. Selected anonymously from an open competition, the diversity of styles reflects the international mix of entrants as well as the range of approaches to the portrait genre, encompassing editorial, advertising and fine art images. The judges have selected 60 portraits for the exhibition from over 6,000 submissions entered by 2,506 photographers. The exhibition will run from 10 November 2011 until 12 February 2012 at the National Portrait Gallery, London.
As well as the first-prize winner and four runners-up, the exhibition will feature the ELLE Commission. For the third year running, ELLE magazine will commission a photographer selected for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition to shoot a feature story. The ELLE Commission was judged by the fashion magazines creative director, Marissa Bourke, together with the art director, Tom Meredith, and picture editor, Flora Bathurst.
With its substantial prize fund and high-profile exhibition and tour, the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize continues the Gallerys long tradition of championing the very best contemporary portrait photography. The following five photographers have been shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2011:
*Jasper Clarke for Wen - Born in the UK in 1978, Jasper Clarke studied at Edinburghs Napier University before moving to London to assist many high profile photographers including Nadav Kander and Liz Collins. His shortlisted portrait taken in Hackney is of Wen Wu, a Chinese artist and is from a personal project depicting artists, musicians and other creatives who live in their work spaces. Clarke says, the portraits are not intended to elicit sympathy for the cash-strapped artist; they are more a celebration of peoples dedication in following a path no matter what the obstacles. Leaving school without qualifications in 1991, Clarke began taking pictures with a camera given to him by his father. After his photographs initially being published in bike magazines he has gone on to shoot fashion campaigns for Paul Smith, Converse and Umbro.
*David Knight for Andie - David Knight was born in Oxford in 1971 and currently lives in Australia with his wife and twin boys. His portrait of 15-year-old Andie Poetschka was commissioned by Loud for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance to raise awareness of the condition throughout Australia. He says I wanted the portraits to be positive and to convey the kids in an uplifting way. You dont immediately notice Andie is in a wheelchair; you just see a beautiful young woman. The image doesnt demand you look at it, but gently draws you in. This is the third year running that Knights work has been included in the exhibition and this is his first time on the shortlist. He began his career assisting advertising photographers in London and Oxford before working in Dubai on a broad range of assignments across the region, including for Saatchi & Saatchi. He currently works in Sydney for advertising clients but manages to devote time also to portraiture and people-orientated assignments.
*Dona Schwartz for Christina and Mark, 14 months from the series On the Nest - Born in the US in 1955, Dona Schwartz is an Associate Professor specializing in Visual Communication at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota. Her shortlisted portrait is of Christina and Mark Bigelow from Minnesota in their sons vacated bedroom. The image is from her current series, On the Nest, documenting moments of change in parents lives, and this photograph explores the emotions experienced by parents as their children leave home. She says, the transition to life as an empty nester lacks formal ritual observance. In this case there is no finite gestation period and the new beginning it heralds may be more sobering. Last year, Schwartzs portrait depicting expectant parents Andrea and Brad, 16 days was chosen for the exhibition. Since earning her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania Schwartzs work has been the subject of five solo exhibitions, numerous international group shows and is held in several collections including Musée de l'Elysée, Switzerland and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
*Jooney Woodward for Harriet and Gentleman Jack - Born in London in 1979, Woodward grew up in Dorset and returned to the capital to study Graphic Design at Camberwell College of Arts, specialising in photography in her final year. Her shortlisted portrait is of 13 year old Harriet Power, a steward at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show, photographed in the guinea pig judging enclosure. Woodward says, I found her image immediately striking with her long red hair and white stewarding coat. She is holding her own guinea pig called Gentleman Jack, named after the Jack Daniels whisky box in which he was given to her. Using natural light from a skylight above, I took just three frames and this image was the first. There is something unsettling about the austere background and the scratch on her hand. After graduation, Woodward worked in the Vogue Photographic Archive of Conde Nast Publications before pursuing a career as a freelance photographer from 2009. Her series Unhidden: Documentary Photographs of Contemporary Wales was exhibited at MOMA Wales, in 2010.
*Jill Wooster for Of Lili - Born in1977 in New Haven, Connecticut, Jill Wooster has lived in New York, San Francisco and currently lives in London. Her portrait is of her friend, Lili Ledbetter and was taken at Woosters flat in Peckham. She says Lili is a complicated character. I like the way her androgyny makes her appearance seem both guarded and relaxed at the same time, capturing both her confidence and vulnerability.' The portrait is part of a series portraying women in their forties and fifties at pivotal stages of their lives, some are dealing with serious life-changing issues while others are just dealing with the the process of grower older. Wooster studied as an artist at Bard College, New York, and supplemented her post-college painting career by working as a photographic retoucher. She currently works as a freelance photographer specialising in highly stylised and manipulated fashion portraits. However, in her shortlisted portrait the only retouching was some selective blemish removal.
The prizes for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2011 and the winner of the ELLE Commission 2011 will be announced at the awards ceremony on Tuesday 8 November 2011 at 7pm. The Press View for the exhibition will be Wednesday 9 November from 10am until 12pm. The exhibition opens to the public on Thursday 10 November, and will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery, London until 12 February 2012.
The competition was judged from original prints by: Monica Allende, Picture Editor, The Sunday Times Magazine; Michael Bracewell, Writer and Novelist; Venetia Dearden, Photographer; Clare Ferguson, Consultant, Taylor Wessing; Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London (Chair), and Terence Pepper, Curator of Photographs, National Portrait Gallery, London.
Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: Five great portraits emerged from closely argued discussion amongst the judges, and from another outstanding international submission for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. This is the competition that rightly produces much creative debate about what makes an exceptional portrait today.
Tim Eyles, Managing Partner of international law firm Taylor Wessing says: The outstanding talent and vision of this years entrants is as inspiring as ever and encapsulates a fascinating diversity of experience from around the globe.'