Four 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 2012 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 5,340 submissions entered by 2,352 photographers. The exhibition will run from 8 November 2012 17 February 2013 at the National Portrait Gallery
As well as the first-prize winner and three runners-up, the exhibition will feature the John Kobal New Work Award. New for 2012 this will be awarded to a photographer under the age of 30 selected for the exhibition. The winning photographer will receive a cash prize of £4 , 000 to include undertaking a commission from the Gallery to photograph a sitter connected with the UK film industry.
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 four photographers have been shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012.
Alma Haser for The Ventriloquist
Born into an artistic family in the Black Forest, Germany in 1989, Alma Haser moved to the UK in 1995 and gained a BA in Photography from Nottingham Trent University. Her shortlisted portrait, taken in her shared house in South London, is of friends Luke and James who have known each other since they were 12. Struck by their hairstyles, Haser initially planned to take separate portraits but it was difficult to get them to concentrate so she decided to photograph them together. She says I asked them to sit on a tiny, wobbly coffee table, forcing them to almost cling onto each other. Ultimately I wanted to turn their verbal banter into a visual image. The title is designed to help viewers make up their own stories about what is going on. Chosen by the British Journal of Photography as one of the four best graduates of 2010, her work has featured in 10 exhibitions internationally and she received third place in the Peoples Choice at Foto8 Summer Show 2012.
Spencer Murphy for Mark Rylance
Spencer Murphy, born in 1978, grew up in Kent and studied at the Kent Institute of Art and Design before gaining a BA in Photography at the Falmouth College of Arts. His shortlisted portrait is of actor Mark Rylance and was commissioned for the cover of the Telegraph Magazine to mark the actors return to the Globe to play Richard III. Murphy says, Ive always enjoyed working with actors as theres no awkwardness or discomfort in front of the camera and they are able to understand direction and react to it very easily. Mark was no exception. The recipient of many awards and shortlisted for the Sony World Photography Awards in both 2010 and 2011, Murphys work has been exhibited internationally. His work has been exhibited as part of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize six times, although this is the first time he has been shortlisted.
Jennifer Pattison for Lynne, Brighton
Born in Hertfordshire in 1978, Jennifer Pattison gained a BA in Photography at the London College of Printing before beginning a career as a photographic agent and producer. Her shortlisted portrait is of her friend Lynne and was taken in the empty bedroom of a derelict house in Brighton. It is part of a currently untitled series of naked portraits and landscapes. Pattison says, There is an interesting shift in the consciousness of the sitter during the slow process of making these portraits; a moment in the quiet where they become unaware that they are naked. I capture them as they drift to another place. With no direction Lynne adopted this straightforward pose, bare and undaunted, looking straight down the lens and beyond. Pattison has worked for many photographers including David Sims and interned in the photographs department at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and is currently focusing on her own career as a photographer.
Jordi Ruiz Cirera for Maria Teichroeb
Born in Spain in 1984, Jordi Ruiz Cirera studied Design at Elisava College, Barcelona before moving to the UK and gaining an MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication. His shortlisted portrait of Maria, a Mennonite from the Swift Current Colony in Bolivia, is part of his long term project portraying the daily life of this community. He says, almost all of the houses have tables in front of their windows giving fantastic light to the scene. Sitting in front of the camera was not easy for Maria, photography is forbidden for Mennonites and having her direct portrait taken was quite difficult so I could only take two frames of her. Even though we were enjoying the situation, Maria posed with this sort of awkward expression. Ruiz Cireras work has been included in numerous exhibitions and this year he has won the AOP Student Awards as well as the Deutsche Bank Award in Photography.
The prizes for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012 and the winner of the inaugural John Kobal New Work Award will be announced at the awards ceremony on Monday 5 November 2012 at 7pm. The Press View for the exhibition will be Tuesday 6 November 10.00-12.00. The exhibition opens to the public on Thursday 8 November and will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery, London until 17 February 2013, admission £2.
The competition was judged from original prints by: Emma Hardy, Photographer, Lauren Heinz, Director, Foto8, Glyn Morgan, Partner, Taylor Wessing LLP, Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery (Chair); Sean OHagan, Writer on Photography for the Observer and the Guardian Terence Pepper, Curator of Photographs, National Portrait Gallery
The John Kobal New Work Award was judged by Simon Crocker, Chairman of the John Kobal Foundation, and writer and journalist Liz Jobey, a Trustee of the John Kobal Foundation.
Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London says: The submissions to the 2012 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize were outstanding, and it was hard for the jury to come to a final decision. I am very excited by the shortlist and hope that the exhibition will further debate around the strengths of photographic portraiture today.
Tim Eyles, Managing Partner of international law firm Taylor Wessing says: Many of the portraits selected this year have an enigmatic quality that will leave the viewer wanting to find out more. Collectively, they reflect a cultural and social variety that will doubtless come together as another hugely stimulating exhibition. Our congratulations go to all the shortlisted photographers and our thanks, as ever, to the National Portrait Gallery.