Photographic Portrait Prize Is Mesmerising As Ever

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 51 months ago
Photographic Portrait Prize Is Mesmerising As Ever
Katie Walsh by Spencer Murphy. Copyright Spencer Murphy
Katie Walsh by Spencer Murphy. Copyright Spencer Murphy
Kofi Annan by Anoush Abrar, 2013. Copyright Anoush Abrar
Kofi Annan by Anoush Abrar, 2013. Copyright Anoush Abrar
Kumbh Mela Pilgrim - Mamta Dubey and infant by Giles Price, 2013. Copyright Giles Price.
Kumbh Mela Pilgrim - Mamta Dubey and infant by Giles Price, 2013. Copyright Giles Price.
The twins by Dorothee Deiss, 2013. Copyright Dorothee Deiss
The twins by Dorothee Deiss, 2013. Copyright Dorothee Deiss

Every year the Taylor Wessing Prize at National Portrait Gallery brings together the very best in photographic portraits from around the world — those from big news stories down to intimate personal images.

As always, political issues are strongly represented. Of these, we were particularly gripped by the image of a Sudanese refugee who has agreed to be photographed, but whose mind is clearly elsewhere as she appears lost in thought over her displacement.

Another lost looking individual is Oscar Pistorius, standing alone in a courtroom dock facing the charge of murder.

Other standout images include a world memory championship competitor — the picture of concentration as he blocks out everything else, and Sipke Visser's very personal image of his child, girlfriend and mother-in-law asleep together in the same room following an exhausting childbirth.

The colour composition in some of these photographs is brilliant, such as a Japanese woman with bright blue hair who is outshone by the even brighter hues of the products in a drinks machine next to her.

Our favourite image of the exhibition features two red-haired girls in green dresses sat on a green bench with a ginger cat across their laps — the contrast of colours is mesmerising. Unfortunately it didn't win any prizes but that might be because of its similarity to a previous winner from two years ago.

The prize winners include an image of a pair of twins who seem to merge into one, and another of Kofi Annan deep in thought as global politics weighs on his mind. The overall winner by Spencer Murphy features jockey Kate Walsh mud-splattered after a race in which she was the only female jockey. It's both a powerful photograph and politically relevant — a worthy winner.

Past Portrait Prize exhibitions have been filled with striking and deeply personal images and this year doesn't disappoint.

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2013 is on at National Portrait Gallery until 9 February. Tickets are £3, concessions £2.

Last Updated 14 November 2013