Shortlist for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 announced

Four photographs have been shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015, the major international photography award organised by the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Beginning in 1993, the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize has become the National Portrait Gallery’s signature exhibition, attracting contemporary photographers around the globe and offering extensive exposure to seasoned photographers and talented amateurs. The prize will be announced on the 10th of November 2015, with the first prize winner receiving £12,000.

The shortlisted portraits include:

Hector by Anoush Abrar © Anoush Abrar

Hector by Anoush Abrar is inspired by the dramatic chiaroscuro lighting of Baroque paintings. The Iranian-born Swiss photographer was strongly influenced by Caravaggio’s work, particularly his painting Sleeping Cupid from 1608. Abrar explains: “Somehow I needed to make my own Sleeping Cupid. I found my portrait of Hector so powerful and iconic that it inspired me to continue this project as a series called Cherubs.”

Amira and her Children by Ivor Prickett © Ivor Prickett/UNHCR/Panos Pictures
Amira and her Children by Ivor Prickett © Ivor Prickett/UNHCR/Panos Pictures

Ivor Prickett’s photograph Amira and her Children, of a displaced Iraqi family who had fled their village near Mosul after Isis took control of the area. The documentary photographer has worked extensively in the Middle East, where he took the photograph in September 2014 when working on an assignment for UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). “I met Amira and her family in the tent where they were living in at the Baharka camp near Erbil… As they became more comfortable with me being there they really started to express their closeness and became very tactile. It was a beautiful moment to witness in the midst of such a difficult situation,” Prickett explains.

Five Girls 2014 by David Stewart © David Stewart
Five Girls 2014 by David Stewart © David Stewart

David Stewart’s portrait of his daughter and her friends, Five Girls 2014, which mirrors a photograph he took of them seven years ago when they were about to start their GCSEs. Stewart says: “I have always had a fascination with the way people interact – or, in this case, fail to interact, which inspired the photograph of this group of girls. While the girls are physically very close and their style and clothing highlight their membership of the same peer group, there is an element of distance between them.” The original photograph of the five girls was displayed in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2008 exhibition and this year is the sixteenth time Stewart has had a photograph in the exhibition.

Peter Zelewski’s portrait Nyaueth was taken near Oxford Street as part of his series Beautiful Strangers. ‘The aim of Beautiful Strangers is to challenge the concept of traditional beauty with a series of spontaneous and powerful street portraits of everyday citizens who show character, uniqueness and a special inner quality, which I try to interpret in my photographs,’ says Zelewski.

The prize-winning photographs and those selected for inclusion in the exhibition were chosen from 4929 submissions entered by 2201 photographers from 70 countries. The competition was judged by Dr. Nicholas Cullinan, Dr. Phillip Prodger – Director and Head of Photographs at National Portrait Gallery, respectively – photographer Hannah Starkey, Scottish National Portrait Gallery photography curator Anne Lyden, director of Cardiff Ffotogallery David Drake, and Tim Eyles, Managing Partner of the award’s sponsor, Taylor Wessing LLP.

This year’s exhibition will also feature previously unseen prints from a new body of work by South African photographer, Pieter Hugo. The prints will form the inaugural In Focus display, an annual showcase for new work by an internationally renowned photographer, which will be exhibited alongside the photographs selected from the competition entries.

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 runs from 12 November 2015 to 21 February 2016 at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Admission is £4. For more information, visit the website.