It’s that time of year again; November, and the opening of the Taylor Wessing portrait photography exhibition and competition at the National Portrait Gallery.
In my review last year, I quoted the British Journal of Photography’s comment that the exhibition was becoming a ‘self-parody’ with very similar images being shown year after year. So I should start this year by congratulating the judges by electing as the overall winner a very different photograph, Konrad Lars Hastings Titlow, by David Titlow. Although seemingly a spontaneous portrait this is a beautifully composed group portrait, centred on his young son, and looking very much like a Carravagio. The picture is well outside the normal mix of Taylor Wessing work, but all the better for it.
And of course, the fact that the exhibition is becoming a little formulaic does not mean the pictures are bad. It simply means that as a potential competitor/exhibitor you are bound to be influenced by a perspective of what the judges want and the whole thing therefore becomes slightly self-reinforcing. I think it would be good for the exhibition, and for portrait photography, if they could find a way of breaking the mould and introducing a broader spectrum of current photographic practice. A photograph which exemplifies a good ‘Taylor Wessing image is this one:
I’ve included some of my favourites from the exhibition below.