We have to come clean: we rushed to the press preview of this show, which opens today, because it includes a photograph of one of us. Yep, here, below, is me, Daisy, baby Rose at my feet, photographed about a year ago by Simon Brown for a feature on working from home in You Magazine. You could have blown me down when the photographer emailed to say that it was one of the 60 photographs chosen, from the 6000 submitted (6000!), to make it into the show at the National Portrait Gallery.
But that’s what’s so great about the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition: it’s full of such diverse portraits, mostly by photographers you’ve never heard of (the images are judged anonymously), linked together not by theme or subject, but simply because each image wowed the judges 100 times more than the next. So you’ll see a portrait of footballer Peter Crouch, taken in a 15 minute sitting, alongside an image of a mother and child that took six months to retouch. The show isn’t big or overwhelming and all the shots are completely contemporary so looking round it, you get this amazing slice of international life – a young man in Ethiopia, a woman in her bed in Finland, a pair of Parisian twins. And yet because these are portraits rather than fashion shots or narratives, what you are looking at is a person being nothing more than him or herself, so after a while you feel like you’re seeing people whose lives you are familiar with. It’s a really compelling show that you can’t help but connect with. The winning image is this one, above, by Jooney Woodward, and you can see why it won, but one of the fun things to do at the show is to decide which image you think is the very best.
And while we’re on the subject of winners, we’ve got a pair of entrance tickets to the show and a catalogue to give away. To win both fill in the form below by 5pm on Friday 25 November, and we’ll pick one lucky name out of a hat.