Three photographers have been shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017, the major international photography award organised by the National Portrait Gallery, London, and celebrating its tenth anniversary under Taylor Wessing ‘s sponsorship this year.
The prize-winning portraits include photographs of a migrant rescued in the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast; a girl fleeing ISIS in Mosul, Iraq; and a Japanese android called Erica.
The annual Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is one of the most prestigious photography awards in the world and showcases new work that has been submitted by some of the most exciting contemporary photographers. Since the international competition began in 1993, it has remained a hugely important platform for portrait photographers and offers an unparalleled opportunity for celebrated professionals, emerging artists and amateurs alike.
Judged anonymously, the diversity of styles in the exhibition reflects the international mix of entries as well as photographers’ individual and varied approaches to the genre of portraiture. Photographers were again encouraged to submit works as a series in addition to stand-alone portraits, and there was no minimum size requirement for prints.
In the competition’s first year of digital entry, the prize-winning photographs and those selected for inclusion in the exhibition were chosen from 5,717 submissions entered by 2,423 photographers from 66 countries. A total of 59 portraits from 50 artists were selected for display, of which 18 were part of a series.
The following three photographs have been shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017:
Amadou Sumaila by César Dezfuli
César Dezfuli was born in Madrid of Spanish-Persian origins. He works as journalist and documentary photographer and focuses on issues of migration, identity and human rights.
The sitter Amadou Sumaila was photographed in the Mediterranean Sea, in international waters 20 nautical miles off the Libyan coast. He has since been transferred from a rescue vessel to a temporary reception centre for migrants in Italy. The portrait was taken as part of Dezfuli’s work as a freelancer, documenting the search and rescue of migrants on board an NGO vessel in the Central Mediterranean Route.
One of Them Is a Human #1 by Maija Tammi (Erica: Erato Ishiguro Symbiotic Human-Robot Interaction Project.)
Maija Tammi is a Finnish artist, with a background in photojournalism, whose photographs engage with science and aesthetics. Tammi’s work has been exhibited in Europe, North America and Asia. She regularly works with scientists and is currently finishing her studio-art-based doctoral thesis. Tammy’s photograph portrays Erica, an android from Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories.
One of Them Is a Human #1 is part of a broader series which presents androids alongside one human and asks questions about what it means to be alive.
The photograph was taken at Ishiguro Laboratory, Department of Systems Innovation at Osaka University, in an experiment room where researchers work with Erica. "I had half an hour with Erica and a young researcher in which to take the photograph. The researcher told me that Erica had said that she finds Pokemon Go scarier than artificial intelligence."
Fleeing Mosul from the series Women in War: Life After ISIS by Abbie Trayler-Smith
Abbie Trayler-Smith is a documentary and portrait photographer born and raised in South Wales. Travelling extensively her work covers women’s rights, social development and the aftermath of conflict.
Her shortlisted photograph was shot outside Hasan Sham IDP camp in Northern Iraq. Trayler-Smith was there undertaking a commission for Oxfam documenting the camp where the charity was providing aid, talking to women who had lived under ISIS who were prepared to be photographed.
A convoy of buses arrived from Mosul, bringing people to safety who had escaped the battle just hours before. "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.
"To me, the uncertainty on her face echoes the faces of people having to flee their homes around the world and references a global feeling of insecurity."
The prizes for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017 and the winner of the sixth John Kobal New Work Award will be announced on Tuesday 14 November 2017.
Main image: Amadou Sumaila by César Dezfuli © César Dezfuli