Imagine you’re a photographer who has carefully edited and submitted what you hope will be the eye-catching photograph on a table covered with thousands of other equally impressive photographs before select judges. The votes are tallied, and out of 5,400 photos submitted by over 2,000 photographers only 60 are chosen for a final exhibit. And yours isn’t one of them. The work would have seemed all for naught, right? Well, enter Portrait Salon, a form of Salon des Refusés, an exhibition of works rejected from a juried art show that was first conceived in Paris in the 19th century.
Founded by Carole Evans and James O. Jenkins in 2011, Portrait Salon was created to showcase the best of the rejected images from the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, a highly regarded annual show put on by the National Portrait Gallery in London, which receives thousands of submissions from all over the world. Yet only a small percentage of those submissions are actually chosen for final selection. Of the thousands of rejected photographs, it seemed to reason that there must be a few gems , so why not give them a platform to shine?
“The concept behind Portrait Salon is to provide more photographers with exposure and opportunity, and to question the place of the Taylor Wessing Prize as a reflection of contemporary portraiture,” Portrait Salon’s co-founder Jenkins told In Sight. Jenkins and Evans decide to create Portrait Salon after they found their work turned down by the Taylor Wessing Prize one year. The duo soon found a wave of other disgruntled photographers who had taken to Twitter to express their disappointment. “We both realized that with only 1 percent of images getting through to the Taylor Wessing exhibition, there must be some great work out there which was rejected and that deserved to be seen, too,” Jenkins said.
This year’s Portrait Salon selection was made by Christiane Monarchi (Photomonitor), photographer Martin Usbourne (Hoxton Mini Press) and Emma Taylor (Creative Advice Network) who selected 70 photographs out of 1,700 submissions to exhibit. Now in its 4th year, the organization will present its new publication and winning portrait selections in a print exhibition in London for the first time on Nov. 6, 2014. In previous years, the images were shown via a slide projector. A sampling of some of the images that will be featured in the exhibition are below.