Home » Exhibitions » Exhibition Review : The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2016 at the National Portrait Gallery – 17th November 2016 to 26th February 2017

Exhibition Review : The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2016 at the National Portrait Gallery – 17th November 2016 to 26th February 2017



The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize Exhibition 2015 is an opportunity to see nearly sixty new portraits by some of the best contemporary photographers from around the world.  The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is one of the leading competitions for contemporary portrait photography and attracts a large number of submissions from professionals and amateurs. This year, there were 4303 submissions from 1,842 photographers from 61 countries. The Prize continues its tradition for diversity of subject matter submitted by a range of photographers, all competing to win one of the four prestigious prizes including the £15,000 first prize.


This year’s winner is Katlehong Matsenen 2016 from the series Similar Uniforms: We Refuse to Compare by Claudio Rasano.

Swiss-Italian photographer Claudio Rasano took the picture in Johannesburg, South Africa and focuses on issues of preserving individuality in the context of school uniforms. The photograph was shot in daylight, outdoors and in front of a plain white paper background.


The Second prize of  £3,000 went to Thea+Maxwell from the series Surfland by Joni Sternbach

American artist Joni Sternbach was born in New York and is the Visiting Artist at Cooper Union School of Art and faculty member at the International Centre of Photography and The Penumbra Foundation in New York, where she teaches wet plate collodion. Sternbach uses early photographic processes to create contemporary landscapes and environmental portraits and her work centres on man’s relationship to water.


The Third prize of £2,000 went Shimi Beitar Illit and Tilly and Itty Beitar Illit, from the series Bei Mir Bistu Shein, by Kovi Konowiecki

American artist Kovi Konowiecki was born and raised in Long Beach, California and after a professional career in football turned to photography from the University of the Arts in London. His work lies between documentary and fine art, often focusing on portraiture and telling stories that reveal his identity, including his experiences of growing up in Long Beach.

The £5,000 John Kobal New Work award went to Josh Redman for Frances.

Born in the UK, Redman was a sculptor and potter until 2012 when he took up photography seriously.


The images around the exhibition explore many different aspects of the photographic portrait and feature a few famous faces but more often the friends and family of the photographers. This year, a number of photographers have explored many different areas around the world. 


In a competition of this size, the standard is always high and the various subject matter wide, therefore it is very difficult to choose winners. However, few would argue with the competition winners who all displayed technical expertise but had a strong narrative. Outside of the competition, the exhibition this year has including some unseen prints from award-winning Spanish photographer, Cristina de Middel of prostitutes’ clients in Rio de Janiero.


This exhibition is always interesting and entertaining with some wonderful contemporary portraits, the range of photographs offer a wide variety of subject matter which provides evidence of the large number of talented photographers using their skills to record all facets of the human condition.

Tickets for the exhibition are Full price £5/concessions £4.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like to find out more about exhibition, visit the National Portrait Gallery website here.

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