Thursday, November 13, 2014

David Titlow wins Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014

The photograph which won the £12,000 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize for 2014 is Konrad Lars Hastings Titlow by David Titlow.


The photographs of the prizewinners highlighted below can be seen as part of the competition's exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery which opened today and closes on 22 February 2015.

59 portraits have been selected for the exhibition from 4,193 submissions entered by 1,793 photographers.  (This competition is even more popular than the BP Portrait Award!). It seems to me that this competition becomes more international with every year that passes.
(This) showcases the work of some of the most exciting contemporary photographers from around the world, including emerging talent, established professionals, photography students and gifted amateurs.


I spoke with each of the prizewinners yesterday and this post contains the winning images and information about each photograph and the photographer - plus some views of the exhibition.  For recommendations as to how to get a photograph into this exhibition please take a look at last year's review - cited below.

Winner of the 2014 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize - £12,000

Konrad Lars Hastings Titlow
Copyright: David Titlow

The winning photograph reminds me very much of the chiaroscuro lighting seen in paintings by Caravaggio and other artists. It also has a lovely flow between the subjects.

However it wasn't set up. David's account of how it came about indicates the photo was taken very quickly. The subject is his son being introduced to a dog on the morning after the night before - which was a big party to celebrate Midsummer - on the longest day - on the farm of his Swedish girlfriend's parents (in Sweden).  They go every year - but this was the first time they'd been with their new born son.  His son has just been handed to a group of relatives and friends.

The light in the photograph is coming from the left - as it does in many classical paintings. He adjusted his camera to minimise the noise in what would be a photograph in low light.

In the foreground are the beer cans which have not yet been cleared away. The baby is outlined in rim lighting and is sitting on the knee of his girlfriend's sister. Another friend's eyes are seen peering over the top of the dog's neck. In the background is a Larsen like wall paper in very subdued light.

In summary it is both a totally natural moment and a very complex image with many of the attributes of a fine art painting.  David took lots of photos and when reviewing them this one jumped out straight away as "special".

David Titlow with his portrait of his son being introduced to a dog on a Midsummer morning in Sweden
David Titlow (b. 1963) works as a photographer in fashion and advertising. He has exhibited widely and has been commissioned by numerous magazines and newspapers, including The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph, Vice and Vanity Fair. Originally a musician from Halesworth in Suffolk, Titlow switched to photography in the early nineties and has since worked in the industry.
David maintains a daily photo blog called Die Rache. He's represented by Skinny Dip.

John Kobal New Work Award - £4,000 

This is an Award given to a photographer under thirty whose work has been selected for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition. It's the second most valuable prize being worth a cash prize of £4,000 plus a commission to photograph a sitter connected with the UK film industry for the National Portrait Gallery Collection.

The John Kobal New Work Award has been awarded to Laura Pannack for her photograph Chayla at Shul, a portrait of a young Jewish girl.

Chayla at Shul 
Copyright: Laura Pannack

This photograph is part of a long term project about orthodox Jewish women in Stamford Hill. It's taken her years to get access to the people she is photographing. Laura told me that Chayla is the only girl in her family and a very shy child who is also very quiet and incredibly modest.

It is also yet another redhead who wins a prize (see last year's review post)!

Laura Pannack with her portrait of Chayla
Laura Pannack was educated at the University of Brighton and Central Saint Martins College of Art and is now a photographer based in London. Her work has been extensively exhibited and published both in the UK and internationally, including the National Portrait Gallery, the Houses of Parliament, Somerset House, and the Royal Festival Hall.
Laura is 30 next year and she's been around photography for a long time. She initially wanted to study painting but subsequently switched to photography at university. She now focuses on social documentary and portraiture and commissions for her agent. Her self-initiated personal projects emerge over years.

In 2012 she was awarded the Vic Odden Award by The Royal Photographic Society award for a notable achievement in the art of photography by a British photographer aged 35 or under.  In 2010 Laura received first prize in the Portrait Singles category of the World Press Photo awards.

You can see more of her work on her blog (which has a lovely layout and where she posts a photograph every week) and Facebook Page Laura Pannack Photography. Her agent is Eyemade.

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize: Second Prize - £3,000

The second prize was won by Skate Girl by Jessica Fulford-DobsonHer photograph forms part of a series of photographs called The Skate Girls of Kabul, which documents young Afghan girls who attend Skateistan - a small non-profit skateboarding school that uses skateboarding as tool for empowerment and a way of connecting young people to education and cultural awareness.

Skate Girl (2014) 
Copyright: Jessica Fulford-Dobson
In 2015, Jessica will be having an exhibition of the complete series of photographs.  She's very keen that stories coming out of Afghanistan shouldn't all be bleak. Her exhibition is about a good news story and her aim is stimulate engagement with her subjects rather than being too political.
‘With the Skate Girls of Kabul portraits, I wanted to show these young Afghan girls with their skateboards within the liberating environment that Skateistan provides for them. It is here that for a few hours a week they are able to have some semblance of a childhood in a place that is detached from the war and their working life on the streets. Like so many other girls across the world, when given the chance to do something positive that they love, each starts to discover their own identity and strength, their own distinctive style and personality.’Jessica Fulford-Dobson
This is a video which provides a BBC World Service interview with Jessica about Skateistan and The Kabul girls who can skate but not cycle.  

Jessica Fulford-Dobson (b. 1969) has worked as a freelance photographer since 2000. Her photographs have been widely exhibited throughout Europe and have been published in The Telegraph Magazine, Vogue and theEvening Standard.

Jessica also has a Facebook Page Jessica Fulford Dobson Photographer

Jessica with her portrait.

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize: Third Prize - £2,000

Braian and Ryan won the third prize for Birgit Püve who lives in Tallinn, Estonia. Birgit has entered four times in total - this is the first time her submission has been selected so the prize is a big bonus!

The photograph is from Double Matters, her series of photographs of 80 twins and triplets.

Her first photograph was taken on a sunny day and produced too much contrast so she went back for a second time to try and achieve a better photograph in better light - and this was the photograph she got as a result.

I note that both the first prizewinner and this one continue the theme of "animals win prizes" which I noted in last year's review - Spencer Murphy wins Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize 2013

Braian and Ryan (2013)
Copyright:  Birgit Püve, 2013
Birgit started taking photographs in 2007, uses a medium format camera with film and now works as a freelance photographer. I noticed she was very active and took lots of photographs of the preview.
She started out as a photo editor and this now gives her an advantage in knowing what sorts of photographs an editor will like. It also means she is now very tough with herself when editing her own photographs.
Birgit Püve (b. 1978) has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions and has been commissioned by publications such as The Sunday Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Der Spiegel and Ryanair Magazine.

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize: Fourth Prize - £1,000

The final prize was won by Blerim Racaj for "Indecisive Moment".

To understand Blerim's photographs it's necessary to understand something of Blerim's background. He says his photography is has an emphasis on the philosophical and is essentially about a quest for identity.

Blerim Racaj (b. 1964) grew up in Kosovo and studied Economics.  He moved to London in 1995 when he was 30. His studies here include a BTEC course in Photography at City of Westminster College in 2004 where is now studying for an MA in Photography. He has been developing a project, entitled Kosovars, for some time. Photos from it have been published in the British Journal of Photography in 2006 and exhibited in Italy, Kosovo, Croatia and the UK.

Indecisive Moment ( 2013)
Copyright: Blerim Racaj
This photo is part of a recent and unpublished series about young Kosovars - a project triggered by the socio-political landscape in Kosovo and high level of unemployment amongst an increasingly young population. The photograph was taken at the base of the National Library, a place chosen by the sitters as an ‘escape zone’.

Racaj says:
‘The photograph signifies that moment in time infused with uncertainty and vulnerability whilst knocking on the door of adulthood.’

Impressions of the Exhibition

Here are some more visuals of the exhibition and its photographs.  I thought grouping the prizewinners near one another in one area of the exhibition - but not right next to one another made for much better viewing.

I was trying to work out what was different about the exhibition this year and decided it was that there seemed to me to be more 'straight' portraits ie with a neutral background. I must confess I prefer the ones which place the subject in an appropriate context - and it's noticeable that all the winners included context.

I particularly liked the wall of monochrome photographs - which includes portraits of Celia Paul (ex muse of Lucian Freud) and Roger Lloyd-Pack, known to millions as "Trigger".

There are a number of events associated with the exhibition of an educational nature - from weekend workshops to a workshop on Better Cameraphone Portraiture for young people.

Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize - previous posts

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

1 comment:

  1. Midsummer´s Eve is as important as Christmas in Sweden :-) Since the nights are so bright here we tend to stay up almost all night ( if not having drunk too much beer;-) )
    What a lovely photograph, it has, as you say, a flow, a movement in it.
    The wallpaper is not from Carl Larsson, but from a collection of old swedish wallpapers that has been reproduced by a swedish wallpaper company. I recognised it at once and before I read the text I thought how odd that this wallpaper is in a british context!;-)


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