I must admit I’m a massive fan of Magnum photographer Martin Parr’s photography and he currently has an exhibition on at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG), which is well worth a visit (on until May 27th 2019). The NPG ran a competition to encourage people who have been inspired by his work and one of my entries made it into the top 30 shortlist. It was even used in the PR to encourage people to enter.
There was a fabulous buzz around the Old Truman Brewery on the opening night of the AOP Annual Awards. The quality of work on display was quite remarkable – not only from the Main Awards but also from the Open Awards, and the AOP Assistants Awards too. I had a lovely warm feeling from seeing my print on the wall with so many other great images (it might also have had something to do with the free beer).
AOP Awards Finalist Image
The Awards themselves were presented by BBC London broadcaster Robert Elms (who sadly had his bike stolen from outside the BBC that day!) who called photographers “thieves of light, Wizards and alchemists”, and said it is a tremendous thing “to be able to salute the professionals of this industry”. You can watch a video of the Awards presentation here (my image flashes up on screen around 9:34 if you’re interested).
Next up is the Portrait Salon exhibition which is taking place at The Embassy Tea Gallery in London from November 19th – 22nd. I’m overseas for the opening night but will back in time to make it to the exhibition.
So it goes that you can’t have success without failure. Having written recently about not making it into the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, I received an e-mail from the Association of Photographers (AOP) saying that I had been selected as a Finalist for the 32nd Annual AOP Awards. If I whooted, I would whoot, whoot at this point, but I don’t, so I won’t, but I am really rather pleased.
Judging was done on digital images and I’ve had to submit a print for the exhibition. This has been made rather easy by the AOP collaborating with The Print Space, where I uploaded my file, The Print Space print it, and they keep it for mounting.
The Awards Presentation evening takes place at The Old Truman Brewery in London on Thursday October 8th, and I guess the combination of awards evening and brewery should make for a lively affair. The exhibition of the finalists prints will open on the night and will run until the 11th October, alongside ShootLDN and as part of The Old Truman Brewery’s Photoblock, before the exhibition goes on a tour of the country. There is also a printed book of all the finalists images.
My successful image is from a recent commission from Remember Creative which I wrote about here. Thanks to all involved in pulling this together.
So that time of year arrived again when I received my annual email from the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize saying that “I am sorry to inform you that on this occasion your work has not been selected for exhibition.” Not that I think I have been singled out by Taylor Wessing – I also got rejected when the event was sponsored by Schweppes, when it was the John Kobal Portrait Prize, and even the year when there was no sponsor.
This years entry.
To be fair it’s not an easy competition to get in to – this year there were 4929 prints submitted (yes you read that right – it’s a prints only competition, which I find quite refreshing in this digital day and age) of which about 60 are selected for an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London, as well as reproduced in a book. The exhibition also embarks on a national tour, so it really is quite something to be selected for.
On the other hand being rejected is now becoming the in thing due to the Portrait Salon, which is a sort of Salon Des Refusés for the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. The Portrait Salon has been running for 5 years, and showcases the best of the work that didn’t get selected. There are some really quite amazing images in the Portrait Salon by some great photographers like Julia Fullerton-Batten, Harry Borden and Kelvin Murray, so being rejected puts me in very good company!
This image won the AOP Assistants Awards in 2008, but didn’t make the cut in the TWPP.
It’s impossible to know what the Taylor Wessing judges are looking for (and some of them change every year) but there are definitely are some constants – twins and redheads being amongst them – and in some cases red headed twins! Also a lot of famous people seem to feature; smiling is generally omitted; and there is usually somebody naked. So planning ahead for next years prize I’m on the look out for some miserable, red headed celebrity twins who won’t mind being photographed naked!
I have been thinking about starting a new project and have decided that I am going to have a shot at putting together a body of work that will Try To Win The Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, which is a bit of a mouthful for a project title so I will call it TTWTTWPP (much catchier), and reserve the right to change the title if the lead sponsor changes in between now and the announcement of next years awards! I’ll post updates along the way with the work I am creating, but for now here’s a quick look back at some of the photos that didn’t get in.
I heard recently that two of my Spirit of Brooklands images have been shortlisted for the Landscape Photographer of the Year competition, which means that they will be exhibited at the National Theatre in London in November, and will appear in the associated book that is published by the organisers.
I entered the inaugural competition in 2007 and this image of Sandbags on Portobello Beach was awarded the Highly Commended category, and appeared in the Sunday Times Magazine article about the competition. I was asked at the time what the sandbags were about and said I had no idea, and that I had just found them lying on the beach. The day after the article appeared in the Sunday Times I got a call from Jephson Robb (http://www.jephsonrobb.com), a Scottish artist who said that the sandbags were part of his art installation for Big Things on the Beach (http://www.bigthingsonthebeach.org.uk), a public art trust in Portobello, Edinburgh. The sandbags were filled by the local people and then three pyramids were built from the filled sandbags.
Unfortunately I never got to see the final installation as it had been taken down by the time I found out about it, but there are plenty of photos on their website.