Oxford School of Photography

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Category Archives: Art Photography

Alec Dawson Photographer

In his series of untitled photographs Nobody Claps Anymore, the Mexican-American photographer Alec Dawson portrays ordinary people in their homes in a downbeat, ultra-stylised manner. Nobody Claps Anymore by Alec Dawson is on show at Perugia Social Photo festival, until 28 March, which focuses on photography around social issues – this year with the theme of ‘blindness’ . Dawson, who works as a civil engineer and has no formal training in photography, keeps the houses of his subjects largely unchanged, but brings in cinematic lighting to throw sharp shadows and dramatic highlights on them

The series’ title, Nobody Claps Anymore, was inspired by an emotional realisation that I experienced when my plane landed in Melbourne. Hundreds of tons of metal, carrying hundreds of passengers, silently flared momentarily before the tires collided with the runway. The nose of the plane heaved forward. The reverse thrusters roared and rapidly decelerated the plane. As the plane turned off the runway onto the taxi-way the individual joints in the pavement were perceptible as the plane lumbered to the gate’ Eventually the plane parked and I heard the sounds of belt buckles, zippers, and the rustling of bags. It all happened in silence. Not a word uttered. No applause. The audience had forgotten to clap’

Every so often by wandering around the web something special pops out. Today it was Alec Dawson. I know his work is somehow reminiscent of Gregory Crewdson except that Dawson shoots real people in real situations rather than constructing a set. He just adds dramatic lighting and I don’t doubt manages the location and people a bit. The images are remarkable for that, their reality, is this a truth. The idea that these are true representations forces the question what is truth. Anyway I am always willing to applaud great creativity and just wish I had thought of it first although I doubt Oxfordshire would have presented such characters.

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Originally found in the Guardian, this is a good place to see interesting photography and worth checking on a regular basis. The Guardian Alec Dawson

 

Saul Leiter: Retrospective

If you don’t know Saul Leiter where have you been? His colour photography has been the delight of many photographers for years. There is a retrospective of his work at The Photographers Gallery but only until April 3rd

It seems an irony that Saul Leiter always considered himself more a painter than a photographer. Firstly, because it was the latter that made his name. Secondly, because he was pretty bad at the former. Leiter moved to New York in the 1940s, soaked up the abstract expressionist scene, and occasionally showed his twitchy, garish, overworked paintings in galleries in the East Village.

Fortunately, alongside the art exhibitions, he also visited a show of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photography in 1947. Soon after, he bought a Leica and started taking pictures on the city’s streets. And out of an alchemical relationship between the two disciplines, there came a long and astonishing body of photographic work defined by a kind of elegant, painterly formalism.

Some people might be drawn to the people in these pictures: the kissing couples, the stooped men in raincoats. But Leiter was always more poet than documentarian. Taking his cues from Mark Rothko’s colour fields, Leiter’s photographs became increasingly defined by broad, abstracted planes of colour. This reached extremes in images like ‘Purple Umbrella’: the webbed rim of the umbrella fills just the upper quarter of the image; the rest is an out-of-focus sidewalk. It’s stark, bold and astounding.

Leiter’s other great achievement was making an aesthetic virtue of all the advertising that filled the Big Apple. Pictures of neon signs shimmering in puddles and billboards reflected in shop fronts make for an exquisite kind of shorthand for the urban experience. It’s never quite a human New York that he captures. But it isn’t half stylish. 

Venue name: Photographers’ Gallery
Contact:
Address: 16-18 Ramillies St
London
W1F 7LW
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm; Thu 10am-8pm; Sun 11.30am-6pm
Transport: Tube: Oxford Circus
Price: £3, adv/concs £2.50, adv concs £2

The 40 best photos of London ever taken from Time Out

This is an interesting and varied mix of images found in Time Out magazine. Hard to know the criteria by which they have been deemed the best images of London ‘ever’ as there seems to be no discernible link or structure to them. In one instance a memorable news picture, Thatcher leaving Downing Street, in the next a man on the underground with nipple clamps. Clearly some have been chosen because they were taken by famous photographers and others because of the moment but the randomness is fun. Have a look, let me know what you think.

London, you’re beautiful. No, scrap that. London, you’re wild. Angry. Delicious. How do you sum up a city that changes its look as often as its underwear and always has plenty to say? That’s the challenge we set ourselves when we decided to draw up a definitive list of the best photographs ever taken of the capital. In making our selection we had help. Serious help: Wolfgang Tillmans, Juergen Teller, Nick Waplington, Dorothy Bohm and Eamonn McCabe are among the world-famous photographers who shaped our selection. We also picked the brains of the top London photography brass at museums including the Tate, V&A, Museum of London and Imperial War Museum. The result: a celebration of London’s architecture, its icons and its geography, but also of us: Londoners at work, at play, protesting, rising to a challenge and always ready for our close-up. 

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Ken Lennox: Margaret Thatcher leaving Downing Street, 1990

Downing Street has witnessed major political events, of course, but the actual drama mainly happens behind closed doors. Not so with Margaret Thatcher’s tearful, final departure from Number 10 in 1990, when it was hard to know which was more startling: the suddenness of her ousting, or the Iron Lady displaying human emotions.

© Ken Lennox/Mirrorpix

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Mo Farah winning the 5,000 metres at the London Olympic Games, 2012

We screamed a lot during the 2012 London Olympics: at the telly, at home, in pubs, and at each other. But nowhere was the din as loud as in the Olympic Stadium when Mo Farah claimed his second Olympic gold by winning the 5,000 metres. The sound of the 80,000-strong crowd was so loud that the camera at the finish line started to shake, warping the image. ‘Nothing captures the fervour, the noise and the enjoyment of London 2012 more than this image,’ says Time Out photographer Rob Greig. ‘It’s a picture taken by 80,000 people.’

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Bill Brandt: Francis Bacon, 1963

German-born Brandt produced mainly portraits and landscapes – and this study, ostensibly of the painter Francis Bacon, shows his mastery of both. It’s hard to tell which aspect is the most severe, the most sullenly evocative: the dark, stormy sky; the angled stripe of pathway up Primrose Hill; or the glowering snarl across Bacon’s face.

© Bill Brandt Archive

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Tom Hunter: Woman Reading a Possession Order, 1998

Bathed in a beautiful morning light, Tom Hunter’s young woman looks likes she’s stepped out of Johannes Vermeer’s seventeenth-century masterpiece ‘Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window’. The narrative, though, is pure late twentieth-century. Fillipa is a squatter reading an eviction notice from Hackney Council. Hunter, at the time a fellow member of Hackney’s squatter community, shot the image for his ‘Persons Unknown’ series. It went on to win the John Kobal National Portrait award and has shown around the world. ‘I never envisaged this response to a photograph I took of my neighbour and friend in a squat one sunny morning in Hackney,’ he says. ‘But its intimate depiction of the mother and child in a moment of vulnerability seems to resonate in a universal way.’

© Tom Hunter

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Charlie Phillips: Notting Hill Couple, 1967

A cool shot of a stylish couple. What could be simpler? Taken at a party in Notting Hill in 1967, this isn’t the most immediately momentous of Charlie Phillips’s photographs, which include images of global icons such as Muhammad Ali and the first images of a fledgling Notting Hill Carnival, as well as intimate photos of Windrush-generation west Londoners. But it’s a picture that speaks volumes about London living and loving. As Phillips remembers, at the time being in a mixed-race relationship meant you’d get ‘louts shouting “nigger lover” from the windows of their cars as they passed’. Thankfully, those days are gone, but issues of race, visibility and Notting Hill’s heritage still occupy the photographer. ‘What really pisses me off,’ Phillips told us when we spoke to him last year, ‘is when they made that horrible film, “Notting Hill”. There wasn’t even one person of bloody colour in it!’

© Charlie Phillips/www.akehurstcreativemanagement.com

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Eve Arnold: One of Four Girls Sharing an Apartment, 1961

London in the early ’60s, before it began to swing, was really more like the ’50s: a little bit dismal, a bit pokey and dowdy – still dusting itself off from its postwar blues, not yet ready to embrace the Technicolor future. Arnold’s wonderfully moody photograph seems to capture that in-between era perfectly.

© Eve Arnold/Magnum

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Tim Peake: London from Space, 2016

We’ve all been high on a Saturday night but, orbiting 400 kilometres above the earth, British astronaut Major Tim Peake takes the (freeze-dried) biscuit for altitude. Shot from the International Space Station at midnight on Saturday January 31, 2016, his image of London, its skeins of twinkling lights shining brightest around Oxford Street and Regent Street, is the most recent image in our top 40 and the ultimate establishing shot. ‘I’d rather be up here… but only just!! #toughcall,’ Peake told Twitter as he flew past at 17,150 miles per hour.

© ESA/NASA

See the rest of the 40 best ‘ever’ here

This looks more interesting photography in London, exhibitions, competitions etc

The Photographers Eye – Szarkowski

I read in a book I found online

The Frame

Since the photographer’s picture was not conceived but selected, his subject was never truly discrete. never wholly self-contained. The edges of his film demarcated what he thought most important but the subject he had shot was something else: it had extended in four directions. If the photographer’s frame surrounded two figures, isolating them from the crowd in which they stood, it created a relationship between those two figures that had not existed before. The central act of photography, the act. of choosing and eliminating, forces a concentration on the picture edge — the line that separates in from out and on the shapes that are created by it.

I think this is a very good description of what we as photographers do

Here is a link to that book

The Photographers Eye – Swarkowski

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Fred Herzog

INTERVIEW: BILLY NAME’S RARE PHOTOS OF ANDY WARHOL’S FACTORY IN THE SILVER AGE

You may be aware that there is an exhibition of Warhol prints at the Ashmolean Museum until May.

This interview in American Photo is with a photographer who worked with Warhol at ‘The Factory’

If you like Warhol this will interest you

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Velvet Underground

Billy Name, born William Linich, was a lighting designer living in Lower Manhattan in the early 60s who, in an amphetamine-fueled fugue, ‘redecorated’ his East 5th Street apartment into an art installation. He covering the entirety of his space in silver spray paint and aluminum foil. “I even painted the silverware silver,” he said. When Andy Warhol, who Billy had been seeing at the time, came over for a hair-cutting party, he asked him to do the same to a new loft he bought on East 47th Street, the site of the since-infamous Silver Factory.

Billy went over to give Warhol’s loft the same silver treatment as his own apartment, and ended up staying for several years, developing close relationships with many of the famous Factory denizens. He had never had a camera until one day, Warhol’s 35 mm fell into his lap and the rest became art history. Decades later, nearly every contemporary art museum in the world at any given time has at least some work by Warhol on view, and anything even remotely associated with the artist seems to garner instant attention.

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Edie Sedgewick

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Andy Warhol

Read more of this interview here

INTERVIEW: DUANE MICHALS ON 50 YEARS OF SEQUENCES AND STAGING PHOTOS

From American Photo

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Through February of next year, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh is hosting the first major survey of the pioneering photographer Duane Michals’ work in more than 20 years. “Storyteller” covers nearly six decades of photographs from his first encounter with the camera in 1958, through his iconic narrative sequences or “mime fables” of the late 60s and 70s, up until the colorful, painted-over tintypes he’s been making in recent years.

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Michals (b. 1932) has continually rebelled against and expanded the documentary and fine art traditions. At the onset, he baffled critics who knew not what to say of his work, rejecting the notion of the “decisive movement,” the supremacy of the sensational singular image, and the glorification of the perfect print. As an expressionist, rather than going out into the world to collect impressions of the eye, he looked inward to construct the images of his mind, exploring the unseeable themes of life, death, sensuality, and innocence.

Shooting mostly Tri-X in available light, he’s maintained a simple process all these years, whether it was for his personal work, or for the commercial work that supported it—the LIFE magazine cover, the ad campaigns for Microsoft and Pampers, an album cover for the Police. Once a radical outlier, now a father of dominant trends, he inspired generations of photographers from Jim Goldberg and Cindy Sherman, to the countless others staging, scribbling over, and painting on their photographs today.

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Read more and see DUANE MICHALS sequences here

17 PHOTOGRAPHERS REVEAL THE HARDEST LIFE LESSON THEY LEARNED WHEN STARTING OUT

I know the title bar is a bit shouty, sorry for that! This article on Featureshoot is a insight into what photographers think when starting out, it is strange that many of them seem to find the brickbats and rejections were not to be expected. These photographers do seem to be mainly aiming at the art rather than the commercial arena and that might be why they assumed their work might be accepted without question. Anyway it is a very interesting article and worth 5 minutes of your time, I should do the same but ask my commercial photographer friends

Here are a selection

Richard

Image © Richard Tuschman

Richard Tuschman: I can think of two. First, you cannot please everyone, and your audience is not going to include everyone. Find your voice, make the work you need to make, and let the work find your audience. Second, you never “arrive;” you are always on the journey. You have to keep constantly searching, learning, and reinventing yourself. There is no auto-pilot.

Leon

Self-portrait © Leon Borensztein

Leon Borensztein: That as a portrait photographer I cannot seem to please my subjects. The unsightly ones think I make them look unattractive and the gorgeous ones think I make them look unsightly. It seems that most people believe that what they see in the mirror is much better rendition of themselves than my portraits. Why did I choose this profession? I could be a prima-ballerina.

Sophie

Image © Sophie Gamand, from the book Wet Dog

Sophie Gamand: Things don’t happen to you if you don’t put yourself out there and you just can’t control everything, which is a great thing! I used to overthink a lot and stop myself from doing the things I wanted to be doing. I would find excuses; I would scare myself out of them. The day I stopped fearing or anticipating, and started actually doing, I shot Wet Dog, the series that would change my life forever. You just never know where a project will take you, so when the desire is there, just act on it: make that trip, take that photo, organize that shoot. When I shot Wet Dog I was planning on a different project, but I was at the groomer and the dogs looked cute wet, so I snapped away. That series went viral, won me awards, including a Sony World Photography Award, got me a book deal, and kickstarted my career. I could have never planned that. So stop over-planning and start doing!

Read the rest of these insights here

Photography and the art scene, selling your pictures

I subscribe to a site called Artsy, it offers works of art for sale. It is well organised and through preferences you make, lists artists and work you might be interested in and keeps you informed of auctions and so on. No I have never bought anything but I like to look.

I thought you might be interested to see some of the photography that it has for sale, not because you might want to buy but because it might give you some idea as to what you have to do to be considered an artist who sells their photographs. Of course being an artist isn’t just about what you produce but the road or how long that you took to get there, otherwise how would a drawing by Picasso on a napkin be worth anything, according to this story 25 years is the answer to how long.

So you might consider the photographs you make equivalent to some that you can see here on the Artsy photography page but that doesn’t mean yours are worth anything to a wider world. I hope you have learned that what other people think is less important than what you think about your images. You know what you wanted to achieve and whether you did, assuming you don’t fool yourself you will either be satisfied or like most of us know you have to try harder. Being creative in any medium starts with a desire to communicate and if what you produce doesn’t speak to you it is unlikely to do so to anyone else, so be honest did your intent manifest itself in your photograph? Intention is all important; serendipity is fine, happenstance, chance, luck they can all add to your images but in the end they have little to do with what you intended to offer the world as your version of what you see.

So here are some examples of what is on offer at Artsy, you may think they are worth the cost and buy or you may look and repeat that old joke. “How many photographers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?” Answer “25, one to do it an 24 to say ‘I could do that'”

From Artsy:

Arguably the most popular medium in contemporary art, photography was invented in 1839. Since then, its various forms and styles have increased almost exponentially—longstanding approaches to the medium range from documentary photography and photojournalism to photo-abstraction. At the same time, every age seems to come with its own photographic movements, and the past century has seen the influential rise of Modern Photography, New American Color Photography, Diaristic Photography, and the Dusseldorf School, among countless other styles and groups.

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JESSE BURKE Lumberjack, 2014 Archival pigment print $2,000 – 4,000
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ELGER ESSER Helensburg, 2015 Hahnemuhle Ultrasmooth 100% Cotton Rag Framed €15,000 – 20,000
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OLIVIER VALSECCHI Eagle, 2012 Lambda Print €3,000 – 5,000
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JAIME LIEBERMAN The iron chicken and the Red Bull, 2013 Painting with light on Varita paper Contact For Price
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JEE YOUNG LEE Maiden Voyage, 2009 From the series Stage of Mind €2,500 – 5,000
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YASUMASA MORIMURA “M’s Self-Portrait no 40/b” 9/12, 1995 Gelatine silver print, framed Contact For Price
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JON FURLONG Water Tower Paste Up, 2015 Fuji metallic pearl paper; Ed. 1/3 $500
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WALTER HUGO & ZONIEL Developing Shadows 6, 2011 Plaster board and silver nitrate £4,500
Here are just a few of the very varied offerings available for sale within the art market for photography, go and have a look at the rest it is interesting and enlightening if sometimes baffling. See more here

 

The 10 Most Expensive Photographs in the World

From Gizmodo we get this, I think the most expensive may have been surpassed but it doesn’t matter

Sometimes photographers amaze us with their ability to uniquely reflect the world around us and get a look at it from a different angle. Other times, they depict images so disgusting or banal that it’s impossible to understand why so many consider their photographs masterpieces. The art market is inscrutable, especially when it comes to photography. The following ten photos, ranked by worth, sold for millions of dollars at auctions over the past few years.

The Rhine II 1999 Andreas Gursky born 1955 Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 2000 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/P78372

The Rhine II 1999 Andreas Gursky born 1955 Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 2000 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/P78372 

1) Rhein II, by Andreas Gursky (1999). Sold for $4.3 million.

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2) Untitled #96, by Cindy Sherman (1981). Sold for $3.9 million.

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3) For Her Majesty, by Gilbert & George (1973). Sold for $3.7 million.

Ok there is the top three for you, go here to see the rest

News Flash

Peter Lik's 'Phantom' was sold for an unprecedented $6.5 million and is the most expensive photograph in history. (PRNewsFoto/LIK USA)

Peter Lik’s ‘Phantom’ was sold for an unprecedented $6.5 million and is the most expensive photograph in history. (PRNewsFoto/LIK USA)

Photographer Peter Lik has sold a print for a cool $6.5 million

Australian landscaper photographer Peter Lik has set a new world record after a private unnamed collector purchased one of his photos for an unprecedented $6.5 million.

The black-and-white image, called “Phantom,” was taken in Arizona’s Antelope Canyon, the Guardian reports.

 

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015

For a little while now I have written about the refugee crisis and the impact photography has had on the publics’ awareness, so serious and important stuff. However never wishing to be too intense I now have the chance to bring you news of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015. This is a very serious (sorry) portrait award and usually is won by a picture involving an animal, see last years winner and the winner from 2011 As I say it is a serious prize to win, the trouble is usually the majority of people, photographers and ordinary people alike just don’t get it. As with many areas of contemporary art the choices confuse those outside the world of contemporary art, like so many things you need to be in the club. Anyway now there is this years prize.  The Guardian article lists all the shortlist contenders, here is what they say about the images and the photographers

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Ivor Prickett’s photograph, Amira and her Children, taken at the Baharka refugee camp. Photograph: Ivor Prickett/PA

A photograph of a displaced Iraqi family who fled their village after the area fell under Isis control is on the shortlist for the 2015 Taylor Wessing prize, theNational Portrait Gallery has announced.

Ivor Prickett, a London-based documentary photographer, took the image, Amira and her Children, in northern Iraq in September 2014 while working on an assignment for the UN refugee agency.

Prickett met Amira and her family in their tent at the Baharka camp near Erbil. They had fled their village near Mosul after Isis took control of the area.

“I spent some time speaking with Amira about what her family had gone through,” said Prickett. “As they became more comfortable with me being there, they really started to express their closeness and became very tactile. It was a beautiful moment to witness in the midst of such a difficult situation.”

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Nyaueth  2015  © Peter Zelewski

Peter Zelewski is a London-based portrait and documentary photographer. Born in Detroit, USA, he moved to London in the late 80s and studied Graphic Design at North London Polytechnic. Through his fascination and love of the city, he was drawn to the streets of London to take photographs of its citizens. Zelewski now divides his time between graphic design, commercial photography and his personal street portraiture projects. Zelewski’s portrait Nyaueth was taken near Oxford Street as part of his series Beautiful Strangers. Zelewski explains: ‘The aim of Beautiful Strangers is to challenge the concept of traditional beauty with a series of spontaneous and powerful street portraits of everyday citizens who show character, uniqueness and a special inner quality, which I try to interpret in my photographs.’

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David Stewart’s portrait of his daughter and her friends. Photograph: David Stewart/PA

The fourth shortlisted work is Five Girls 2014, by David Stewart, a photographer born in Lancaster and based in London. The five girls of the title are his daughter and her friends, a group he first photographed seven years ago when they were about to start their GCSEs.

“I have always had a fascination with the way people interact, or in this case fail to interact, which inspired the photograph of this group of girls,” he said. “While the girls are physically very close and their style and clothing highlight their membership of the same peer group, there is an element of distance between them.”

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Anoush Abrar photo of a young boy, inspired by Caravaggio’s painting Sleeping Cupid. Photograph: Anoush Abrar/PA

Anoush Abrar, a photographer born in Iran who now lives and teaches in Lausanne, Switzerland, is shortlisted for Hector, a photograph of a young boy inspired by his fascination with Caravaggio, and particularly the artist’s 1608 painting Sleeping Cupid.

“Somehow I needed to make my own Sleeping Cupid,” he said. “I found my portrait of Hector so powerful and iconic that it inspired me to continue this project as a series called Cherubs.”

This is what TW say about themselves…The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 is the leading international competition which celebrates and promotes the very best in contemporary portrait photography from around the world. The selected images, many of which will be on display for the first time, explore both traditional and contemporary approaches to the photographic portrait whilst capturing a range of characters, moods and locations.

With over 2,200 entries, this year’s Prize continues to uphold its reputation for a diversity of photographic styles submitted by a range of photographers, from gifted amateurs to photography professionals, all competing to win one of the four prestigious prizes including the £12,000 first prize.

All four photographs will be included in an exhibition of the best of this year’s entries. The winning photographer, to be announced on 10 November, will receive £4,000 and a commission. The four photographs were chosen from 4,929 submissions entered by 2,201 photographers from 70 countries.

Nicholas Cullinan, the director of the National Portrait Gallery, who chaired the judging panel, said: “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.”

The exhibition of the prize winners and other entrants is at The National Portrait Gallery, London from November 12 to February 21

There are also events going on in support of the award, here is one but you can find the full list here

Weekend Workshop: Classic Photographic Portraits

28 November – 29 November 2015, 11:00-17:00
Please check signage on the day for details
Tickets: £150 (£125 concessions and Gallery Supporters) Book online, or visit the Gallery in person.

Taking inspiration from the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015, hone your skills in this two day practical workshop.

We also have a Portrait Photography Course where you will learn how to take portraits of your family, friends but generally not small animals, nor will we inspire you with images from……

Here is a link to our post about the 2014 TW prize

and here, the 2013 TW prize   and the 2012….oh and the 2011 and finally our post about the 2010  We are thorough