Parliament Hill student Simeon Aptowitzer’s review of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014 at the National Portrait Gallery.
The National Portrait gallery consists of many different types of portraiture, ranging from old paintings, to video clips of David Beckham, to a sculpture crafted out of frozen blood. However we went to the Gallery to view the annual Taylor Wessing photographic portrait prize, which featured many different celebrities as well as unknown people around the world.
When we arrived at the Gallery we were taken into a theatre to have a preview of all the photos before we went into the actual gallery. This allowed us to receive some background information on the pieces of work, which were on show in the competition. The different portraits that we looked at featured work of Sami Parkkinen, Chris Frazer Smith, and many more artists. The photography which was featured in the gallery ranged from full body shots of one person, to grouped photos as well as a dog being featured in one of the photographs, which helped to give the exhibition diversity.
We were then taken around the main exhibition to view the portraits in physical form, which allowed us to gain some further information on the work we had seen in the studio theatre. The portraits were different in the exhibition, the majority being smaller than they had appeared when first viewing them on a projection big screen. Seeing them in the gallery also provided a plaque of information next to the photo, which told us more information about the photographer, their inspiration and the person who features in the photograph.
A piece of the work that I really liked was the portrait of Steve McQueen taken by Giles Price. This portrait was very refined with no real context to it, which revealed a lot of the little details in Steve McQueen’s face. The background colour in the photo also gave the photo depth, making the all his facial features really stand out. Also, the directional lighting used in the shot was very effective and emphasised the depth of the photo, giving shadows to specific parts of his face worked really well.
A piece of work which I didn’t like was the photography of Sami Parkkinen, which was a little boy being photographed in a grown man’s jacket. The photograph was good, in terms of the lighting, the contrasting colours and the shadows created from directional lighting, but what the photograph actually consisted of is something I’m not fond of. In this photo the little boy is almost like an animal, in the sense that he hasn’t got a clue about what’s going on, as he’s being placed on a chair in ridiculous clothing, which I find discriminating towards the little boy.
Overall I did enjoy the Gallery visit, however there was some portraiture which I didn’t find particularly amazing, and found that there were very few images which I was impressed with. I felt that the theatre viewing was a nice way of viewing the photos before actually viewing them and the presentation in the gallery was good quality and refined.