Sunday, August 1, 2010

entering the Taylor Wessing National Portrait Gallery photographic prize

I decided to enter this competition since I often visit The National Portrait Gallery and appreciate their contribution to photography. The kind of portrait they are looking for is stated in the rules ... "‘Portrait’ may be interpreted in its widest sense, of ‘photography concerned with portraying people with emphasis on their identity as individuals’

One portrait is of a friend with a towel wrapped around her head and called "Shashi in towel turban." It is quite a striking image with its face seen from the side and a colourful wrap around the model's head. Headgear is topical (the burqa has recently been banned in France but is still allowed in the UK) and a previous winner of the competition was of someone wearing a plastic bag over their head.

Another portrait is from my series After Vermeer; it is of the Milkmaid though I call it Milkedmaid. There are a few other updates in the image such as a carton of orange juice with Vermeer's name on it. Although the composition corresponds to the original, the lines within the image tend towards an off centre focal point loosing the balance of the original while there is also some distortion of perspective.

There is another After Vermeer portrait, this time entitled Woman with a Jade Necklace. The woman here is Chinese, an ethnic twist, but the photograph suffers from having to make what was a beige coloured top light yellow. The colour contrast works well but the overall effect may be a little tacky.

The photo entitled Palzome, the monk's daughter, I find quite intriguing as a result of the model and the background which clearly occupies half of the image. The model's face though has not reproduced well so I am considering another photograph.

The last photograph is of a teenager, only 13 in fact, posing in her ballerina costume. I had intended to photograph her in the archway of a local Tudor mansion but that location fell through at the last moment and I ended up photographing here in a corner of our garden. This maybe too eccentric a composition but the image has an atmosphere that seems to work. Its' called The Young Ballerina.

Probably I am being a bit too critical here but I do not expect to win anything although if one of the images is selected for the exhibition, it will have been worth all the effort. In fact, it is already worth the effort as it has helped me to come up with an idea or two for more original portraits and obliged me to consider the finished image.


"Thank you for entering your work into the above competition.  The judges have now made their final decision and I am sorry to inform you that on this occasion your work was not selected for exhibition.  We do however feel it is important to tell you, although you did not get in to the exhibition, your photographs did make it to the second day of judging, which is the point at which the judges make their final selections for the exhibition. This year there were 5,984 images submitted for competition and only 60 were short listed for exhibition so the competition was very strong. We wish you the very best in the continuation of your practice and hope that you will consider applying to the competition again in the future."

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