Culture Corner / Taylor Wessing Portrait Photography Prize 2017

This month sees the return of LPA's popular blog feature, Culture Corner. Culture Corner is a regular feature on the LPA blog, showcasing our recent forays into the exciting cultural scene London has to offer. From museums, to galleries, to live entertainment, this is what we've been up to recently! To set us off we bring you the fantastic Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017.  Showcased at the National Portrait Gallery, the exhibition holds 59 shortlisted works from the world's "leading photographic portrait competition, celebrating and promoting the very best in contemporary portrait photography". The photographers featured range from leading professionals to emerging talents, and the work on display is inspiring from start to finish.

This year’s competition was judged by:

Nicholas Cullinan (Chair and Director, National Portrait Gallery) David Campany (Writer, Curator and Artist) Tim Eyles, Managing Partner, Taylor Wessing LLP Sabina Jaskot-Gill (Associate Curator, Photographs, National Portrait Gallery) Fiona Shields (Head of Photography, Guardian) Gillian Wearing (Artist)

The judges awarded First Prize to the very worthy César Dezfuli with his emotive image of refugee, Amadou Sumalia (pictured below).

All the works featured in the exhibition are noteworthy, but here we wanted to share with you some of LPA's favourites. One image that particularly caught Lisa's attention, was One of Them Is a Human #1, by Finnish photographer Maija Tammi.

''There is such a strong selection of images in this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, it's tricky to choose a favourite! I totally agree with the judges on the winning image, but if I had to pick another it would be this one. I couldn’t work out why I was drawn to this portrait at first, there is just something really intriguing about it. At first glance the girl seems to have a coquettish, yet powerful air about her. When I read that the image was actually of an android it all made sense, but it was also slightly unnerving to consider one judges the appearance of an android in the same way that they would a human. Well deserved of the overall third prize and the John Kobal New Work Award.’'

Cassie's favourite came from documentary photographer Abbie Trayler-Smith, with her image Fleeing Mosul.

Here's what she had to say about it: "This was the image that impressed me the most. As well as the captivating painterly quality to the shot, the image captures an agonizing expression and message. The thought of living under Isis and being displaced from home is portrayed through the bewilderment in the girls expression. It’s a real thought provoker as well as beautiful portrait."

For Anna, Embrace, by Baud Postma stood out from the rest.

"This image particularly resonated with me because the sense of emotion and connection is so strong, yet you cannot see the subjects faces. It’s an intensely personal moment which remains quite impersonal to the viewer. So often emotion is portrayed through eye contact and facial expressions, yet here it is all conveyed through body language and the softness of the colours and light. The image is oddly calming, all while expressing deeper, more tormented connotations regarding different races and beliefs."

Clio's stand out was Maggi Hambling, by British landscape photographer Harry Cory Wright.

"I felt that the winning image for this years Taylor Wessing competion was well deserved, it's a haunting, striking image which conveys a huge amount of emotion. However if I were to pick a second favourite it would be this portrait of Maggi Hambling. I love the story behind this image, Maggi smoked a pack and a half of cigarettes while sitting for this shot. Cory Wright decided to play on this instead of letting it ruin his shot, he brought in a smoke machine that filled the orchard she was sitting in with smoke, creating this dramatic and surreal image while at the same time conveying Maggi's carefree attitude perfectly. I love the bizarre contrast of orchard, something beutiful and natural, with the smoke and the cigarette polluting the space, giving this whole image a dreamlike feel.  

Last but not least, Georgina chose GCSE, by Natahsa Alipour-Faridani as her favourite. "Although this image was shot as part of a wider series (entitled 'Results Day'), it really works as a stand alone portrait. There is a certain stillness to the shot, in contrast to the usual hysteria and excitement of your typical GCSE results day! There is also a sense of mystery, has the boy opened his results yet, or does his expression demonstrate the anticipation and nervousness one feels before they find out."

These six images are just a fraction of the inspiring work on show and we strongly recommend a visit. In addition to the work above, we were particularly delighted to see images featured from Jon Tonks and Joel Redman - both past LPA photographers!  A huge congratulations to both of them.

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017 is on display until the 8th February, and tickets are available here. Be sure to send us a tweet and let us know your favourite!