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Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize

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by Bryony Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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Capturing People in a New Light
Fabio, Andy Massaccesi, goat, kid, taylor wessing photographic portrait prize, national portrait gallery
'Fabio' by Andy Massaccesi, 2012 the artist

Who is this Taylor Wessing person you may ask? Was he a famous artist whose brilliant photography gave him the honour of having a prestigious competition named after him? If so, why have I never heard of him?

The answer is simple. Taylor Wessing never existed. At least not the man. After a bit of curious snooping, and the wonder of Google's search engine, I discovered that Taylor Wessing is a law firm that was founded in 1782. The company has had a relationship with the National Portrait Gallery since 2005, and in 2008, it began to sponsor their annual Photographic Portrait Prize.

Admittedly, this does not sound as glamorous as being named after a fictional artist, but it does mean that the prestigious competition can continue to run with financial backing.

2013 saw over five thousand submissions by entrants who ranged from amateurs, students, and professional photographers. Narrowing the selection down to the sixty that are now on display was no easy task, but now that all the hard work has been done, you can visit the National Portrait Gallery, and admire the winners for free until the 9th February.

There is a varied range of contemporary photography from around the world, featuring pictures of the rich and famous to family and friends. Some are formal commissions, while others are much more spontaneous. First place went to Spencer Murphy from Kent, who took his portrait of Katie Walsh at Kempton Park Racecourse while working for Channel 4. Giles Price won second place for his picture of Mamta Dubey and Infant, which was taken at the Kumbh Mela Pilgrim Festival in India. Anoush Abrah's portrait of the Ghanian diplomat, Kofi Annan, whipped up third prize, and Dorothee Deiss secured fourth place with her portrait of The Twins, which she took while visiting two elderly sisters' home.

On the 13th December, Royal College of Music will take inspiration from the exhibition for a live performance at 6.30pm.

If these photographs inspire you to improve your own skills, then on the 7th & 8th December, you can attend a weekend workshop. Younger visitors can also take a Sunday session on the 5th January. It is suitable for 14-21 year olds. If you enjoy taking self-portraits on your mobile phone to share on social networking sights, then you can find out what makes a good selfie in a discussion on the 16th January.

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Why? Fun for art lovers
When: Until 9th February
Phone: 020 7306 0055
Where: National Portrait Gallery
Cost: 3, 2 concessions
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