Portraits of surfers, orthodox Jews and South African teenagers in school uniforms will compete for this year’s Taylor Wessing portrait prize at The National Portrait Gallery in London.
The New York-based photographer Joni Sternbach is nominated for a ‘tintype’ portrait of a couple called Thea Adler and Maxwell Schultz, from a series called Surfland, created with the Victorian photography process wet plate collodion.
Sternbach is a visiting artist at the Cooper Union art school and a faculty member at the International Center of Photography and the Penumbra Foundation, where she teaches courses the wet plate collodion process
“Sternbach uses early photographic processes to create contemporary landscapes and environmental portraits and her work centres on man’s relationship to water,” Taylor Wessing said in a statement. “Her long-term projects involve the pursuit and understanding of the Western landscape and the series Surfland, which features tintype portraits of surfers.”
16.02.20 #1 Thea+Maxwell (Thea Adler and Maxwell Schultz) was taken in February 2016 at Davenport Landing, Santa Cruz, California, USA.
Sternbach says: “This is the first image I made in February when I was invited to give a talk and book signing in Santa Cruz. My hosts and I planned a shooting day prior to the event and they arranged for several local surfers to have their portraits taken. Maxwell was the first to arrive and he brought along his lovely girlfriend.
“For me, this photograph addresses many aspects of what it means to make a portrait. Faced by someone entirely unknown, I hoped to create a dynamic complexity within the picture that is both unique to that person and also understandable to others, as well as to share with the world just one moment.”
Also shortlisted was Kovi Konowiecki, from Long Beach, California, a former professional footballer who played in the US and was signed as a teenager by German side 1860 Munich, will show his images of Israeli Orthodox Jews.
Konowiecki played football in Israel before returning to his native America. He then moved to London, where he studied for an MA in photography at the University of the Arts.
He is shortlisted for two images from his series Bei Mir Bistu Shein, which portrays orthodox Jews from around the world.
The third nominee is the Swiss-Italian photographer Claudio Rasano for his image of 18-year-old South African student Katlehong Matsenen from the series Similar Uniforms: We Refuse to Compare.
Rasano was born in 1970, Basel, Switzerland. The portrait was taken in February 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The photograph was shot in daylight, outdoors and in front of a plain white paper background.
Rasano says: “Children themselves have been known to rebel against uniforms, especially as they approach the awkward age characterised by the need to fit in and the desire to stand out, all at the same time. Some experts too have spoken against school uniforms on the grounds that they suppress individuality and diversity.”
Rasano has exhibited at the oslo8 contemporary photography, 2014; Lens-Culture Exposure Awards, Photo London, 2015; Museum of African Design, Johannesburg 2015; Portrait Salon, London, 2015; Bohai Galerie, Hannover, Germany and Expo Milano, Milan, Italy among others. Rasano’s awards include the 2016 Shortlist for the Athens Photo Festival; 2015 Bieler Fototage; 2015 Leica Oskar Branack Prize and the Finalist 2015 Photography Masters Cup.
The shortlisted photographs were chosen from 4,303 submissions entered by 1,842 photographers from 61 countries.
After the winner of the £15,000 prize is announced on 15 November, the shortlisted works will form part of a wider prize show at the National Portrait Gallery between 17 November and 26 February. The annual prize, which began in 1993, and is one of the top prizes in photography.
Nicholas Cullinan, director of the gallery, said: “In an exhibition remarkable for its range of subjects and styles, the quality of this year’s shortlisted works reflects the outstanding level at which photographers across the world are working today.”
The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2016 exhibition will run at the Gallery from 17 November 2016 to 26 February 2017 before touring to venues around the UK.
More information is available here.