Taylor Wessing 2014

Konrad Lars Hastings Titlow, by David Titlow
Konrad Lars Hastings Titlow, by David Titlow

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:

With Reg, by Jill Wooster
With Reg, by Jill Wooster

I’ve included some of my favourites from the exhibition below.

Unexpected, by Lenka Rayn H
Unexpected, by Lenka Rayn H
Celia Paul, by Nicholas Sinclair
Celia Paul, by Nicholas Sinclair
Roz Barr Architects in the Church of San Lorenzo, Venice, by Valerie Bennett
Roz Barr Architects in the Church of San Lorenzo, Venice, by Valerie Bennett
Silvio Berlusconi, by Paul Stuart
Silvio Berlusconi, by Paul Stuart
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