David Titlow has won the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014, with a photograph capturing his nine-moth old son Konrad being introduced to a dog. Here are this year’s winners and other highlights from the competition…
Titlow’s winning photograph, entitled Konrad Lars Hastings Titlow, is a beautiful, intimate, unstaged shot, and just one of several in the diverse selection in the exhibition that looks towards new styles of what we might consider as ‘portraiture’.
Working in fashion and advertising, Titlow has had his work featured in publications including the Guardian, the Sunday Telegraph and Vanity Fair. He typically shoots on a Nikon D800, but prefers his “noisy and battered” Lumix GF1 for personal work including this shot.
“My girlfriend, Sandra, is Swedish and we often visit a midsummer party with her old school friends. It was the morning after a big party and everyone was a bit hazy from the previous day’s excess,” says Titlow. “I always try to have a camera with me, and as my girlfriend passed our son to friends on the sofa, the composition and backlight was so perfect that I had to capture the moment. The spontaneity of Konrad interacting with the dog and the beautiful Swedish sunlight flooding in from behind the sofa made the scene look like a painting.”
Judges included the National Portrait Gallery’s director Sandy Nairne, curator and Vogue contributing editor Robin Muir, artist Bettina von Zwehl, the National Portrait Gallery’s head of photographs collection Phillip Prodger, and business group director at Taylor Wessing LLP Niri Shan.
59 images including the winning work have been chosen from 4,193 submissions, to be exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery from 13 Nov 2014 until 22 Feb 2015.
Second prize went to Jessica Fullford-Dobson, for Skate Girl – a portrait of a seven-year-old Afghan girl at a skate school in Kabul.
‘The series reveals that Afghan girls are like any others in the world,” explains Fulford-Dobson. “What I loved about this girl, was how immaculately dressed and composed she was. The skate hall is a dusty, noisy place filled with laughter and yelps of excitement as the girls skateboard freely, up, down and around with their robes and scarves flying.”
Birgit Püve won third prize, for Braian and Ryan, from her Double Matters book featuring more than 80 sets of identical twins and triplets in Estonia. Dissatisfied with the results after an initial meeting, she returned for a further session with the boys in the shot: “This time, the boys had already become used to me, the light was perfect – all the pieces fitted together.”
Blerim Racaj won forth prize with Indecisive Monet, from a recent, unpublished series about young Kosovars, triggered by the socio-polictical landscape in Kosovo and the high level of unemployed young people. “I’m aware that almost every Kosovar is affected by painful traumas of the war, directly or indirectly,” says Racaj, who, seeking to denote the uncertain future of the teenage subjects, used black-and-white film with single flash to create a deliberately “dark, mundane environment” during the shoot.
The John Kobal New Work Award went to Laura Pannack for Chayla in Shul, depicting a rabbi’s daughter, from the Purity series that focuses on Orthodox Jewish women and girls living in Stamford Hill, north London – a project that connects with her cultural heritage.
And here are a few of our highlights from the rest of the exhibition…
Lewisham Chair of Council Cllr Obajimi Adefiranye, from the series The London Borough Mayors 2013-2014 by Ian Atkinson; a project recording the diversity of the population of London by photographing serving mayors or civic heads of all thirty-two boroughs.
Nataly Angel Miranda, from the series Dancing Like a Woman by Viviana Peretti, captures the Colombian drag artist and ‘Miss Bambuco Gay 2012′, waiting to take part in the 2013 competition.
Boy with Drape, from Heiko Tiemann’s Infliction series, photographed at a school for young people with complex social or emotional backgrounds.
Arvi, by Sami Parkkinen is a portrait of the photographer’s son aged two in his own winter coat, from an ongoing series about relationships between fathers and sons.
47 Years Later (A tribute to Diane Arbus), by Catherine Balet, is a portrait of Ricardo Martinez Paz, and is part of a series in which Balet reimagines iconic images in the history of photography in collaboration with the 73-year-old model.
Dad by Kelvin Murray captures the photographer’s father Charles, who was diagnosed with cancer a few months before this photo was taken. “Dad had always liked to be photographed and although he was very ill, seemed happy to go along with my ideas,” Murray says.
Myrtle McKnight, My Mother, from the series The Object of My Gaze, by Marcia Michael, is a portrait of the artist’s mother undressing, presenting an aesthetic that “challenges the way of looking, that lessens the gaze and dispels the normal trope of race and sex that exists in identity formation,” Michael explains.
Tim, by Laura Stevens, depicts Tim Andrews, who since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2005 has turned himself into a living art project, having been photographed by over 300 photographers. “I wanted to make a portrait that wasn’t immediately about his illness, but a beautiful and intimate image of him, connected and at peace with his body,” Stevens says.
Unexpected, by Lenka Rayn H, captures the daughter of a friend of the photographer, who commissioned a pair of portraits of his two daughters. “I expected two giggling girls, but to my surprise they were really serious and great at following my directions,” H describes. “I was able to create something totally unexpected as their father gave me creative freedom and fully trusted me.”
Embrace by Buki Koshoni, from the Ace & Marianne series, was taken just after the artist’s wife gave birth to their son. Although Koshoni had doubts about his decision to photograph the birth, he sought the reassurance of his wife: “Without a hint of self-consciousness, she allowed me to photograph the birth in its entirety. I owe this shot to her and of course my son, Ace,” he says.