Every year, the Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize commends the world’s most talented photographers, displaying a series of stunning portraits in the National Portrait Gallery’s hallowed halls. And now, for the first time since 2020, the Prize is returning to its NPG home, adorning the newly renovated walls. The winner of the prize has landed, whittled down from over 5,000 entries from 1,785 photographers – here’s everything you need to know.
The Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize 2023: The Winners
Narrowed down from this year’s shortlist of five photographers, the winner of the Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize 2023 is Alexandre Silberman with his portrait Diena. Taken in Paris, the photo features sitter Diena in her first professionally posed photograph, and is part of Silberman’s series NATURE which explores the intersection of human landscapes and the natural world, and how human interventions such as building a park or urban greenspace creates a hybrid reality between what is natural and what is constructed.
‘The judges felt this portrait encompassed a compelling blend of the traditional and the contemporary,’ said a statement from the National Portrait Gallery. ‘With echoes of art historical depictions of a Madonna, the monochrome palette lends a timeless, oneiric quality to the work. However, details within the image, such as the sitter’s nose ring, floral blouse and headphones, feel fresh and current and bring the portrait firmly into the present.’
Second prize was awarded to Gilleam Trapenberg for their photograph Kisha and LaDarayon, which shows a mother and son on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin. ‘The judges found this quiet and tender moment between a mother and her son who is on the brink of adolescence very moving,’ said the National Portrait Gallery. ‘The portrait draws our attention to a profound and relatable moment in the midst of an otherwise ordinary and everyday setting.’
Third prize was shared by Jake Green for Shaun Ryder, a portrait of the Happy Monday’s lead singer, and Carl Francois van der Linde for Chotu Lal Upside Down, depicting professional wrestlers from Punjab. ‘The judges were intrigued by being presented with a characterful celebrity portrait where the face is not revealed, but the personality of the sitter is still conveyed,’ the National Portrait Gallery said of Green’s work. Commenting on Francois van der Linde’s photo, it was also noted that: ‘The judges kept returning to this work to decipher the intriguing composition. The rhythm of the bodies’ shapes and forms across the image were unique and captivating.’
British photographer Serena Brown was awarded the new Taylor Wessing Photographic Commission for me nana fie, which featured the photographer’s younger sister visiting her family home in Accra, Ghana, for the first time. ‘The judges enjoyed the natural and spontaneous feel of this portrait. The sitters are casually posed, but the portrait captures their evocative expressions and emanates a sense of warmth and affection,’ said the National Portrait Gallery.
The five photographers shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize 2023 were:
- Serena Brown for ‘me nana fie’, featuring the photographer’s younger sister visiting her grandma’s home in Ghana for the first time
- Jake Green for ‘Shaun Ryder’, capturing the Happy Mondays lead singer
- Carl Francois van der Linde for ‘Chotu Lal Upside-down’, photographing professional wrestlers of Continental Wrestling Entertainment (CWE)
- Alexandre Silberman for ‘Diena’, considering the intersection of people and the natural world at La Courneuve park outside Paris, France
- Gilleam Trapenberg for ‘Kisha and LaDarayon, 2023’, picturing a mother and son on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin.
The five talented photographers were selected by a panel of judges from 5,020 entries from 1785 photographers. The panel was chaired by National Portrait Gallery Director Dr Nicholas Cullinan, who says: ‘Congratulations to the shortlisted photographers, who have demonstrated an outstanding quality of work amongst an extremely talented pool of entries. The Photo Portrait Prize is always an opportunity to showcase new and exciting photography talent, and we are delighted to be welcoming the exhibition back to the newly renovated gallery.’
Cullinan is joined by Karen McQuaid, Senior Curator at The Photographer’s Gallery, writer and photographer Caleb Azumah Nelson, author Campbell Addy, and Sabina Jaskot-Gill, the National Portrait Gallery’s Senior Curator of Photography, to select a winner for the prestigious prize.
The winner will be announced on 6 November 2023. There will also be a prize for second place and, owing to the high standard of submissions this year, a joint-third prize will also be awarded to two photographers. Plus, a commission to the value of £8,000 will be awarded to one of the shortlisted photographers, to be added to the National Portrait Gallery’s collection and unveiled at the 2024 Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize exhibition.
‘This year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize features an exceptional shortlist of talented artists,’ says Shane Gleghorn, Managing Partner at Taylor Wessing. ‘We take pride in supporting the Prize, which has gained international prestige and attracted a growing number of artists and we look forward to seeing the Prize return to the National Portrait Gallery.’
The shortlisted works are available to see at the National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2023 exhibition from 9 November 2023–25 February 2024, alongside 53 more stunning portraits and portraits by 2023’s In Focus Photographer, Hassan Hajjaj.
Tickets from £8.50. npg.org.uk
St. Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE
Featured image: Chotu Lal Upside-down by Carl Francois van der Linde from the series Our Leader; cropped. © Carl Francois van der Linde