Margarita Teichroeb © Jordi Ruiz Cirera, courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery.
Jordi Ruiz Cirera first came across the Mennonite community in Bolivia when he was travelling in South America in 2011. "I got to know them, but wanted to do more about their community," he told BJP when we featured his work in July as part of a series on the best photography graduates of the year. "When I started my Masters at LCC, I decided to go back and finish my project. But I had already done a reportage there, so I wanted to take a different approach, choosing to shoot portraits to showcase the relations and the family roles within the community, as well as their deep isolation from contemporary society."
His portrait of Margarita Teichroeb has helped him clinch the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012 and £12,000 cash. "This portrait is a superbly constructed study of an individual subject," says Sandy Nairne, director of the National Portrait Gallery.
For the Spanish photographer, being shortlisted was a dream come true. "Professionally, it means recognition from a really prestigious institution, and a highly professional panel of judges, which makes me think things are going in the right direction – and that's always important."
As for winning the top prize, Ruiz Cirera believes it could help him develop his work. "This project on the Mennonites was self-funded, and it was not easy to spend so much time and money without knowing whether I would be able to get it back. Now, with the £12,000 he won, the photographer is planning to update his equipment and spend the rest working on personal, long-term projects, "without having to think much about whether it's profitable or not".
Photographers Jennifer Pattison, Spencer Murphy and Alma Haser, came in second, third and fourth place, respectively, earning cash prizes ranging from £1000 to £3000.
All four shortlisted photographers spoke with BJP, and these exclusive interviews can be found in a special free edition of BJP's iPhone app. Download it on iTunes.
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