It is that time of year again when the various organisations hand out prizes for ‘best ofs’. I am rather conflicted by the whole process of photographic, or in fact any creative activity, held up to competition. I am never sure what wins is worthy nor that the winners are understood as the photographer intended. Many of these photography competitions stretch the idea of photography such that images grabbed from Google Streetview have been awarded prizes in the past. However, I can also accept that competition can push some photographers to achieve much better and that is to be lauded
The Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize is one that always provides much room for debate about the value of the winning entries. Once all you needed was a redheaded subject holding an animal, this year the portrait that one third prize is of an android.
This is the overall winner and many would argue that it is deserved.
Amadou Sumaila photographed by César Dezfuli, 20 nautical miles off the Libyan coast – this year’s winning portrait. Photograph: César Dezfuli/NPG
Sean O’Hagan in The Guardian, always a reliable critic says:
A handful of politicians, several refugees, various awkward adolescents, two skinheads, the inevitable young girl holding a furry animal and, breaking with tradition, an android – it’s the Taylor Wessing time of year again
This year’s photographic portrait prize, the first to allow digital submissions as well as prints, draws 59 images from 5,717 entries. As a show, it hangs together pretty well, not always the case in the past. The overall standard seems higher, there are fewer celebrities – always a good thing – and most of the portraits of refugees and asylum-seekers tend towards the intimate rather than the concerned.
The exhibition he mentions is at the NPG
16 November 2017 to 8 February 2018
The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is the leading international photographic portrait competition, celebrating and promoting the very best in contemporary portrait photography.
The Prize has established a reputation for creativity and excellence, with works submitted by a range of photographers, from leading professionals to talented amateurs and the most exciting emerging artists.
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. The exhibition of fifty-nine works features all of the prestigious prize winners including the winner of the £15,000 first prize.
Second Prize Winner
Intimately powerful … Fleeing Mosul from the series Women in War: Life After Isis by Abbie Trayler-Smith. Photograph: Abbie Trayler-Smith/NPG
Third Prize Winner
Maija Tammi’s portrait of the android Erica. Photograph: Maija Tammi/NPG
All the major papers and photographic sources have reviews on this, take your pick
The Arts Desk