REVIEW:Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize Exhibition, National Portrait Gallery

Claudio Rasano won the annual photographic portrait prize for his photograph of a Johannesberg schoolboy –  but what is the rest of the exhibition like? 

What is always fascinating to see in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is the wide variety of work that is on display and the different approaches to photography that are used.

From the second that visitors to step into the exhibition, you enter a world that embraces humanity in all forms and challenges your perception of the world through the eyes of people with different backgrounds and talented photographers who captured them.

The third prize winner Kovi Konowiecki’s Tilly and Itty Beitar Illit is a wonderfully constructed photograph of twins that is equally balanced, a mirror image of each side and filled with wonderful colour and detail in the background.

Other highlights from the exhibition include Dexter McLean’s untitled image of his sister holding up her phone to her eye, apparently looking straight through it. The photograph is a strong message as to how dependent we are as a society on technology and how it means that we possibly don’t see things clearly.

Another strong entry was Carol Allen-Storey’s Macleen. The photograph is an image of a child clutching her doll, lying on the floor – it is a powerful image that conveys the loneliness and isolation that she must have been feeling at the time.

It is images like these that run through the exhibition, creating a memorable display of images that are aimed to challenge our perception of the world and the way in which we see it. This can particularly be seen when looking at Kelvin Murray’s Maria which at first glance looks like you are seeing an image of Maria from the Sound of Music but on a second glimpse, your eye picks up details that you didn’t notice before – such as the helmets and the falseness of the background the subject is standing in front of. It is an image that suggests we shouldn’t trust first appearances and should look at the details before jumping to conclusions.

Although the overall atmosphere is sombre, the exhibition is a celebration of great talent who see the world in a different way. A great visit for all aspiring photographers and maybe even to inspire them to enter the competition next year…

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is on display from the 17th November until the 26th February 2017. For more information and to book tickets visit:

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