César Dezfuli's teenage migrant portrait wins the Taylor Wessing prize

Spanish photojournalist César Dezfuli's image of Amadou Sumaila, a teenage migrant from Mali, has won the prestigious Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017. The photograph was taken moments after the 16-year-old's rescue from the Mediterranean Sea, twenty nautical miles from the Libyan coast in August 2016.

"I think Amadou’s portrait stands out because of the emotions it transmits," says Dezfuli. "He had just been rescued by a European vessel, apparently fulfilling his dream. However, his look and his attitude show fear, mistrust, and uncertainty, as well as determination and strength."

Dezfuli graduated in journalism and audio-visual communication from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain followed by a postgraduate qualification in photojournalism. His work documenting human rights issues has been published in numerous magazines and has been seen in group exhibitions in 2017 including First Prize in the Head On Photo Festival 2017 Portrait Category, and awards at the International Photographer of the Year Awards and the Moscow Foto Awards.

The judges said: "Against the balance and precision of Dezfuli’s composition, the directness of Sumaila’s gaze is striking and unsettling. The portrait powerfully conveys his loss, solitude, and determination."

Dezfuli was awarded £15,000 in a ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery on Tuesday.

Fleeing Mosul from the series Women in War: Life After ISIS by Abbie Trayler-Smith © Abbie Trayler-Smith

Fleeing Mosul from the series Women in War: Life After ISIS by Abbie Trayler-Smith © Abbie Trayler-Smith

One of Them Is a Human #1 (Erica: Erato Ishiguro Symbiotic Human-Robot Interaction Project) by Maija Tammi © Maija Tammi;

One of Them Is a Human #1 (Erica: Erato Ishiguro Symbiotic Human-Robot Interaction Project) by Maija Tammi © Maija Tammi;

Second prize went to British photographer Abbie Trayler-Smith for her picture of a woman on a bus from Mosul, fleeing ISIS: "I just remember seeing her face looking out at the camp," says Trayler-Smith, "and the shock and the bewilderment in her's and other's faces and it made me shudder to imagine what living under ISIS had been like."

Third prize went to Finnish artist Maija Tammi for her image of an android, as part of her series One Of Them Is A Human #1.

You can see the winners' work in an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery until 8 February 2018, including all shortlisted submissions. Find out more at www.npg.org.uk.

Main image: Amadou Sumaila by César Dezfuli © César Dezfuli