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2017 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize


This year's portraits feature subjects such as a migrant rescued in the Mediterranean Sea, a girl fleeing the so-called Islamic State group and a Japanese android called Erica.

The photographs, which will go on display at the National Portrait Gallery, London, were chosen from 5,717 submissions and show an eclectic approach to the subject of portraiture.

One of Them Is a Human #1 by Maija Tammi

image copyrightMaija Tammi

Maija Tammi's photography examines the interaction of science and art, and she regularly works alongside scientists.

In this image, an android called Erica looks towards the camera. Developed by Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories in Osaka University, Japan, Erica is kept in an experiment room where researchers work with her.

"I had half an hour with Erica and a young researcher in which to take the photograph," says Tammi. "The researcher told me that Erica had said that she finds Pokemon Go scarier than artificial intelligence."

Tammi's project, One of Them Is a Human #1, is a series of photographs that places androids alongside one human, asking what it means to be alive.

The portrait is not of a human, but the National Portrait Gallery has decided to keep it in the competition anyway.

In a statement they say: "The gallery has decided not to disqualify this portrait though accepts it is in breach of the rules. The rules are reviewed every year and this issue will be taken into consideration for next year.

"The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is dedicated to showcasing the best in contemporary portraiture.

"There are occasions when particularly compelling portraits raise interesting questions about the genre of portraiture, and these may be included at the judges' discretion."

Fleeing Mosul from the series Women in War: Life After ISIS by Abbie Trayler-Smith

image copyrightAbbie Trayler-Smith

From women's rights to social development and the aftermath of conflict, Abbie Trayler-Smith travels extensively to document her subjects.

This image was taken outside Hasan Sham IDP camp in northern Iraq, where Trayler-Smith was talking to women who had lived under the so-called Islamic State group.

A convoy of buses arrived from Mosul, bringing people to safety who had escaped the battle just hours before.

"I just remember seeing her face looking out at the camp, and the shock and the bewilderment in her's and other's faces, and it made me shudder to imagine what living under IS had been like," says Trayler-Smith.

"To me, the uncertainty in her face echoes the faces of people having to flee their homes around the world and references a global feeling of insecurity."

Amadou Sumaila by Cesar Dezfuli

image copyrightCésar Dezfuli

Cesar Dezfuli's work revolves around issues of migration, identity and human rights. Dezfuli met Amadou Sumaila, the subject of this portrait, while he was documenting the search and rescue of migrants on board a non-governmental organisation (NGO) vessel in the Central Mediterranean route.

The portrait was taken in the Mediterranean Sea, in international waters, 20 nautical miles off the Libyan coast.

Mr Sumaila was transferred from the rescue vessel to a temporary reception centre for migrants in Italy.

The winner of the 2017 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize will be announced on 14 November. Entries will be on show at the National Portrait Gallery from 16 November 2017 - 4 February 2018.

Related Topics

  • Portrait photography
  • Photography