The motivations for the photographs vary widely, from explorations of societal questions to inquiry into personal history.
The winning portrait, by Swiss-Italian photographer Claudio Rasano, is of Katlehong Matsenen, a schoolboy in Johannesburg, South Africa. The image is part of the series “Simliar Uniforms: We Refuse to Compare,” which focuses on the relationship of individuality to school uniforms. Rasano explained to the National Portrait Gallery: “Children themselves have been known to rebel against uniforms, especially as they approach the awkward age characterized 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.”
Third prize winner, Kovi Konowiecki, of Long Beach, Calif., uses portraits to tell people’s stories that also unearth details of his own identity. His photographs, “Shimi Beitar Illit” and “Tilly and Itty Beitar Illit” are part of a series of inkjet prints that portray Orthodox Jews from around the world, giving insight into his lineage. The judges of the exhibition commented to the National Portrait Gallery on “Konowiecki’s striking and ornate portraits, which provide a glimpse into an otherwise inaccessible community.”
The “Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2016” exhibition is on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London from Nov. 17, 2016, to Feb. 26, 2017.