Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Spencer Murphy wins Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize 2013

Spencer Murphy has won the £12,000 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2013 with a photograph of Katie Walsh, an Irish jockey who came third in the Grand National 2012 and is probably one of the best, if not the best, female jump jockeys currently riding in the UK.

Winner of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2013
Spencer Murphy with his portrait of jump jockey Katie Walsh
He was also shortlisted for last year's Prize and won Third Prize.  He's had work in the exhibition on six previous occasions.  Quality counts every time! It's a not uncommon pattern to these things for people who get shortlisted and win prizes despite the fact that the entries for this Prize are judged anonymously.  The most the judges can ask to know is the title - they have absolutely no other information.

The winning portrait and the rest of the prizewinners and other selected artists are on show to the public in the new 2013 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from Thursday 14 November 2013 until 9 February 2014.

Prizewinners - Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Competition 2013
at the National Portrait Gallery
You can see some of the selected works on the website (it's a pity you can't see them all!).

In 2013, 2,435 photographers who range from amateurs to established professionals entered 5,410.  (Figures for 2012 were 2,350 photographers and 5,340 entries - so a slight increase on both counts).

You can also download the technical details of the selected works. I've highlighted these under the prizewinners.

You can read details of the backgrounds of the shortlisted artists/prizewinners in my previous post Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2013 - Shortlist announced

The competition was judged from original prints by:
  • Sandy Nairne Director, National Portrait Gallery, London (Chair); 
  • Kate Bush Head of Barbican Art Galleries; 
  • Suki Dhanda Photographer; 
  • Tim Eyles UK Managing Partner, Taylor Wessing; 
  • Terence Pepper Head of Photographs Collection, National Portrait Gallery; 
  • Rebecca Valentine Photographic Agent

What follows covers:
  • details of the prizewinners
  • comments on the exhibition
  • tips for photographers wanting to enter next year or in the future
  • links to past reviews of this exhibition on this blog


£12,000 First Prize: Spencer Murphy for Katie Walsh

First Prize: Katie Walsh by Spencer Murphy
ISO: 160; F-Stop: 5.6; Camera: Horseman 45 HD (large format film camera)
This photograph was taken at Kempton Park Racecourse as part of a series of portraits of jump jockeys for a Channel 4 'The Original Extreme Sport' Campaign.  Katie Walsh is spattered in mud after a race.  The photograph captures what the Prize is about "an outstanding photograph which transmits the circumstances and character of a sitter or group". It's a photograph of a jump jockey being a jump jockey - there are no concessions to being female - she is a woman in a really demanding sport.

£3,000 Second Prize: Giles Price for Kumbh Mela Pilgrim Mamta Dubey and infant

Second prizewinner:
Giles Price with his on location pop-up studio portrait of
Kumbh Mela Pilgrim Mamta Dubey and infant
Shutter Speed: 1/25 ISO: 100 F-stop: 8 Focal length 125mm Camera: Phase One P65+

I had a great chat with Giles. He highlighted for me some of the contrasts within the photograph which made him think it was worth entering this competition. For the record:
  • Madonna and child composition - of Christian origin - and yet the lady is Hindu pilgrim 
  • The orange yellow of her dress complements the deep blue of the background he was using for his pop up studio
  • The infant sports a very contemporary western style onesie for babies whereas his mother is dressed in traditional fashion.
He also commented that he was now able to do a lot more 'on location shoots' since he started using an Elinchrome Quadra for his flash photography. He now gets c.600 flashes from a portable device which doesn't weigh more than 2 kilos.

£2,000 Third Prize: Anoush Abrar for "Kofi Annan"

3rd Prize: Anoush Abrar for Kofi Annan
© Anoush Abrar
Black backdrop, one flash and a reflector | Shutter speed: 1/60 | ISO: 100 | F-Stop: 16 |
Focal Length: 85mm | Camera: Nikon D800

This was a commissioned photograph and the commission included the requirement that he look down and have his eyes closed.  The photo took 3 minutes!

£1,000 Fourth Prize: Dorothee Deiss for "The twins"

4th Prize: The twins by Dorothee Deiss, 2013
© Dorothee Deiss
ISO: 100 | F-Stop: 7.1 | Focal Length: 50 mm | Camera: Nikon 800D

The £4,000 John Kobal New Work Award 2013

Elza and Nellie by Hana Knizova

© Hana Knizova
Shutter speed: 1/100 | ISO: 1600 | F-Stop: 2.8 | Focal Length: 40mm | Camera: Canon 5D mark II

The winner is Hana Knizova (08.05.1984), for her portrait Elza and Nellie from the series Family Matters

Impressions of the exhibition

Somehow this exhibition always manages to look more contemporary than exhibitions of painted portraits. I see more unusual portraits and more portraits of two or more people when viewing photographic portraiture.

Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize 2013 - gallery shot

This year there seems to be a lot more colour and less monochrome photos. The exhibition includes photographs I was surprised to see - and yet it also includes photographs which I was very pleased to see.

I very much liked the next two photographs

Hombres de Mar by Proyecto Mírame LIMA
A portrait of a fisherman and his family in Peru
Lakhsman Dongari by David Vintner
This year the exhibition also includes far more portraits of twins than anywhere else ever!  Besides the two prizewinning photos of twins, the remaining two are:

Maria and Corinne by Lydia Panas
Three Colours Red by Tom Stewart

Tips for future exhibitors

I asked one of the selectors and some of the photographers what their tips were for entries to this competition.  Here they are with a few of my own along with a few of my own
  • twins - this is apparently a perennial theme even if this year's exhibition rather over emphasises it with four separate photographs of twins and two of the prizes going to twin photos
  • red-heads - one won two years ago and they keep coming up.  On the same theme ginger cats seem to be a perennial - we had one last year and again this year (and the year before that we had a very ginger guinea pig!)
  • Gerhard Richter - he was in last year and again this year! ;)
The following are the themes which swamp the competition entries ie ones which you might want to stay away from:
  • people with piercings and tattoos
  • babies of every description
  • travel photos with a person in. (Taking a photo far away is not enough - it has to be a good portrait!)
Don't photograph a well known celebrity if you want a prize - they never ever win.

Do photograph a woman if you want to win the top prize - it's invariably a portrait of a woman that wins.

Do ask peers for opinions of whether the photograph is good enough for the competition.

Also remember a large scale monochrome photograph looks a treat in the standard black with white mat used by the gallery to frame all the photographs in the exhibition.

Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize - previous posts


Previous Years

These are links to my reviews of this competition and exhibition in previous years:

1 comment:

  1. I am so excited to spend shit loads of hours on this blog! So useful. I'm an undergraduate doing art history and am trying to make a head and tails of everything :) x


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