Shortlist announced for National Portrait Gallery's Taylor Wessing photographic portrait prize

Tanique Williams, Cape Town, South Africa, 2018 from the series Drummies by Alice Mann

Four photographers have been shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2018, the international photography award organised by the National Portrait Gallery, London.

The prize-winning portraits include photographs of a London mother holding her baby; a child from a remote village in the jungle of Sierra Leone’s Eastern Province; a series on the all-female teams of drum majorettes in South Africa’s Western Province; and a double portrait of a pair of shoppers taken in England’s capital.

The 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. The winner of the first prize will receive £15,000, the second prize winner receives £3,000 and the third prize £2,000.

This year’s exhibition will also feature previously unseen prints from a new body of work by Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi. The prints will form the fourth In Focus display, an annual showcase for new work by an internationally renowned photographer, which will be exhibited alongside the photographs selected from the competition entries.

Kawauchi is a Japanese photographer whose work came to prominence with the simultaneous publication of three books: Hanako (a documentary of a young girl of the same name), Hanabi (which translates as ‘fireworks’) and Utatane (a Japanese word that describes the state between wakefulness and sleep.

In 2002 Kawauchi was awarded the Kimura-Ihei-Prize, Japan’s most important emerging talent photography prize, following the publication of her first photobooks. Kawauchi has had major exhibitions at Les Rencontres d’Arles, France and The Photographers’ Gallery, London. As well as being the recipient of the International Center of Photography’s eminent Infinity Award in the Art category in 2009, Kawauchi’s photography was shortlisted for the 2012 Deutsche Börse photography prize and the Prix Pictet in 2016.

The following four photographers have been shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2018:

Untitled from the series Londoners by Max Barstow

Max Barstow is a London-born photographer with an interest in images about city life, with his work inspired by a combination of studio and documentary photography. The image selected, a double portrait of two shoppers has been taken from Barstow’s series titled, Londoners.

Barstow says: "I began creating the series with the aim to make un-posed portraits with the intensity of images made by great studio portrait photographers such as Richard Avedon and Irving Penn. The photograph selected is a strongly composed and graphically-arresting image.

"It freezes a pair of friends shopping in the flow of a busy Summer Sunday afternoon in the centre of London. I believe the image is particularly interesting as a portrait in that it was taken swiftly in the middle of a crowd of passers-by – it is, unusually, both a formally successful portrait with a classic studio-aesthetic and a street photograph in the broad idiom of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Garry Winogrand."

Untitled from the series Londoners by Max Barstow

Untitled from the series Londoners by Max Barstow

Cybil McAddy with daughter Lulu from the series Clapton Blossom by Enda Bowe

Enda Bowe is an Irish photographer based in London. Bowe’s work is concerned with storytelling and the search for light and beauty in the ordinary. He has had work exhibited at Red Hook Gallery, New York, The V&A Museum, London, Fotohof, Salzburg, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, and The Visual Centre Of Contemporary Art, Ireland. The photograph selected, a portrait of Cybil and Lulu is from a series of portraits titled Clapton Blossom.

Bowe says: "The series focuses on finding the colour and beauty in the urban, the light in the grey. At the centre of the housing estate where this project was made stands a huge cherry blossom tree, the unifying heart of the estate. The beauty of the blossom, symbolising hope, optimism and new beginnings connects the people within the project together."

Cybil McAddy with daughter Lulu from the series Clapton Blossom by Enda Bowe

Cybil McAddy with daughter Lulu from the series Clapton Blossom by Enda Bowe

Portrait of 'Strong' Joe Smart from the series Tombo's Wound by Joey Lawrence

Joey Lawrence is a Canadian-born photographer based in Brooklyn, New York celebrated for both his humanitarian projects and high-profile commissions. Lawrence has built his style by dedicating a vast amount of time and resources to passion projects which emphasise the humanity in underserved communities.

Commissioned by WaterAid, Lawrence’s shortlisted portrait of Joe Smart is part of a series shot in Tombohuaun, translation ‘Tombo’s Wound,’ a remote village tucked into the jungle of Sierra Leone’s Eastern Province struggling with water-borne illnesses.

"Rather than just creating images that underscored Tombohuaun’s plight," says Lawrence, "WaterAid and I envisioned a portrait study of the community that would highlight its resilience, its fraternity, its highly organized structure, and its work ethic. These are all the traits that will enable the village to thrive and sustain its clean water resources and practices long after the NGO has completed its work."

Portrait of 'Strong' Joe Smart from the series Tombo's Wound by Joey Lawrence

Portrait of 'Strong' Joe Smart from the series Tombo's Wound by Joey Lawrence

Keisha Ncube, Cape Town, South Africa, 2017 from the series Drummies by Alice Mann

Alice Mann is a South African photographic artist based in London whose intimate portraiture essays explore notions of picture making as an act of collaboration. Her shortlisted series was shot in South Africa’s Western Province, focusing on the all-female teams of drum majorettes.

"For these girls, involvement in ‘drummies’ becomes a vehicle for them to excel, and the distinctive uniforms serve as a visual marker of perceived success and represent an emancipation from their surroundings," explains Alice. "Continuing my consideration into notions of femininity and empowerment in modern society, it was my intent to create images that reflect the pride and confidence the girls achieve by identifying as ‘drummies’."

Keisha Ncube, Cape Town, South Africa, 2017 from the series Drummies by Alice Mann

Keisha Ncube, Cape Town, South Africa, 2017 from the series Drummies by Alice Mann

Taylim Prince, Cape Town, South Africa, 2017 from the series Drummies by Alice Mann

Taylim Prince, Cape Town, South Africa, 2017 from the series Drummies by Alice Mann

The prizes for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2018 will be announced on Tuesday 16 October 2018 at 19.00.