Taylor Wessing shortlist 2015

15 September 2015

Exhibitions, Competitions

Four photographs have been shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 , the major international photography award organised by the National Portrait Gallery, London.

The prize-winning portraits include Anoush Abrar’s photograph of a young boy, inspired by Caravaggio’s painting Sleeping Cupid; Ivor Prickett’s photograph of a displaced Iraqi family who had fled their village near Mosul after Isis took control of the area; David Stewart’s portrait of his daughter and her friends, which was inspired by the photographer’s fascination with human interaction; and Peter Zelewski’s photograph of a woman he spotted on Oxford Street whilst working on his series Beautiful Strangers.

The annual Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is one of the most prestigious photography awards in the world and showcases new work that has been submitted by some of the most exciting and cutting-edge contemporary photographers. Since the international competition began in 1993, it has remained a hugely important platform for portrait photographers and offers an unparalleled opportunity for celebrated professionals, emerging artists and amateurs alike.

Judged anonymously, the diversity of styles in the exhibition reflects the international mix of entries as well as photographers’ individual and varied approaches to the genre of portraiture. For the first time, photographers were encouraged to submit works as a series in addition to stand-alone portraits, and there was no minimum size requirement for prints.

This year’s exhibition will also feature previously unseen prints from a new body of work by the award-winning South African photographer, Pieter Hugo. The prints will form the inaugural In Focus display, an annual showcase for new work by an internationally renowned photographer, which will be exhibited alongside the photographs selected from the competition entries. As the first ever In Focus artist, Hugo was chosen by the Gallery for his uncompromising, insightful and occasionally provocative approach to portraiture.

The prize-winning photographs and those selected for inclusion in the exhibition were chosen from 4929 submissions entered by 2201 photographers from 70 countries.

As well as the four prize-winners, the exhibition will feature the John Kobal New Work Award. For the fourth consecutive year, this will be awarded to a photographer under the age of thirty whose work has been selected for the exhibition. The winning photographer will receive a cash prize of £4,000 to include undertaking a commission from the Gallery to photograph a sitter connected with the UK film industry.

The competition was judged from original prints by Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery; Dr Phillip Prodger, Head of Photographs, National Portrait Gallery; Hannah Starkey, Photographer; Anne Lyden, International Photography Curator, Scottish National Portrait Gallery; David Drake, Director, Ffotogallery, Cardiff; and Tim Eyles, Managing Partner, Taylor Wessing LLP.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, says: ‘The strength of the four shortlisted works reflects the outstanding level that photographers across the world are working at today. The exhibition will be especially exciting this year as we will be displaying a number of photographs that were submitted as a series of portraits, as well as new and unseen work by acclaimed photographer Pieter Hugo.’

Tim Eyles, Managing Partner, Taylor Wessing LLP, says: ‘Yet again the excitement and anticipation of seeing this year's submissions was fulfilled by their striking diversity and fascinating array of styles, settings and subject matter. Although there was much lively debate amongst the judges, it was noteworthy how the final selection had endured powerful analysis but ultimately reflected a commonality of view. The process is intense, emotional and elevating. I felt privileged to be witness to such a myriad of exciting images and talent, and learned much from the inspired approach of my fellow judges.’

The prizes for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 and the winner of the fourth John Kobal New Work Award will be announced on Tuesday 10 November 2015 at 19.00.


12 November 2015 – 21 February 2016
Admission £4Supported by Taylor Wessing


A fully illustrated catalogue including all photographs from this year’s exhibition features an interview with the In Focus photographer Pieter Hugo and interviews with the prize-winners by Richard McClure. Price £15, paperback. 

Image: © Peter Zelewski, Nyaueth.