It has been announced that David Stewart has won the 2015 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, as the exhibition prepares to open at the National Portrait Gallery.

Stewart won the £12,000 award for a group portrait of his daughter and her friends after the completion of their university degrees which is a re-staging of his 2008 entry, which also featured his daughter and her friends preparing to do their G.C.S.E’s.

The London-based photographer was presented the award at a special ceremony that took place last night (10th November). Talking about his photograph 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.” It is the 16th time that the photographer has had a photograph selected for the annual exhibition.

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Five Girls 2014. Copyright: David Stewart.

Anoush Abrar took second place for the photograph of a young boy which was inspired by Carvaggio’s painting Sleeping Cupid ; third place went to Peter Zelewski’s photograph of a woman he spotted on Oxford street while working on his series Beautiful Strangers; and fourth place went to Ivor Prickett’s photograph of a displaced Iraqi family who had fled their village near Mosul after isis took control of the area.

The winning portraits are all part of the annual exhibition that celebrates a wide variety of photographers work that was narrowed down from 4929 submissions by 2,201 photographers by a panel of judges – and judging by the quality of work on display it was a hard choice.

All of the subjects have different stories and backgrounds that are conveyed in extremely focused portraits taken by photographers from across the globe. No matter who is in the photograph, each image is as sharp and focused as the next and the exhibition is clear and concise, allowing the work to speak for itself.

As ever, this exhibition is a chance to explore a number of different topics that affect the subjects whether it is the devastation of war on children or marking a centenary of the first British policewoman with the power of arrest there is no limitations.

While many of the photographs have a natural feel about them, occasionally there is one or two portraits that look slightly more posed for such as Winter Virus by Sian Davey that doesn’t quite ring as true as others such as Happy Pupil of Budaka by Mark Chivers.

Yet it feels as though the exhibition has tried to fit too much in as alongside the exhibition is a new In Focus display which this year features new work by South African photographer Pieter Hugo. While Hugo’s work is extremely good, it feels a bit cramped and unnecessary when the other work on display is of such high quality – what do visitors get by seeing this work now in this exhibition?

But, what the carefully selected photograph on display do convey is the spirit, personality and even the thoughts of the subjects and this in turn captures the visitors attention and holds it throughout the exhibition.

If you love photography or looking for some inspiration then this latest annual exhibition delivers in full, but could use a little more space to allow the works a bit more room to make an impact.

The Taylor Wessing Photography Portrait Prize exhibition opens to the public from the 12th November and will be on display until the 21st February 2016. 

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