It is almost a standing joke amongst many photographers, the Taylor Wessing Prize. Of course it is taken seriously by the photographic elite, academic, arts council, grant funded world but by practising photographers, no it is generally not. For a couple of years the joke was any portrait to be considered had to have a red head holding a small furry animal, previously it needed a fried egg but the overwhelming requirement was bored, the subject had to look so bored. No personality, not engagement, blank, tired, uninterested faces.
Now there is an alternative, the Portrait Salon, and looking at the images on the BBC site in the piece written by Phil Coomes I am not sure they have done much more than sweep up the not so bored, those portraits that express the smallest suggestion of subject involvement with the process that TW have rejected.
I am being reactionary but in all hyperbole there is some truth, just listen to Russell Brand rant.
This is what Phil Coomes says on the BBC website
Portrait Salon is perhaps unique in the world of photographic exhibitions as it comprises material rejected from another show. This is the fourth year that material submitted to, and rejected by, the Taylor Wessing National Portrait Gallery Photographic Portrait Prize has been brought together.
This year Christiane Monarchi (editor of Photomonitor), Emma Taylor (Creative Advice Network) and photographer Martin Usbourne (Hoxton Mini Press) selected 70 portraits from 1,184 submissions.
Emma Taylor notes that the judges had to follow their “gut instincts” when selecting images, due to limited time to assess each entry, though she feels that “there’s something rather liberating about this, something pure”.
She adds the chosen pictures are “images that made us smile, images that made us question, images so beautiful we unanimously cheered their submission”.
As you would expect, the work is engaging and diverse. It carries on the tradition of past shows and feels like one put together by photographers for photographers. The pictures are what is important, and the viewer will find much to delight.
Portrait Salon was founded by Carole Evans and James O Jenkins in 2011, and this year the show opens at Four Corners, London on 6 November. It will then tour to Fuse Art Space in Bradford, Oriel Colwyn Gallery in Clwyd, Napier University in Edinburgh as well as Birmingham, and Bristol.
Further details can be found on the Portrait Salon website.
Here is a selection of the pictures in the exhibition.
There are more to see here