Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize

3rd Prize Winner

The run is now coming to an end at the National Portrait Gallery.

A good year I think. Better than the last few; which to my mind have been too in-crowd, with no chance of anyone not on the art circuit making a showing.

The actual top 5 were not my favorites, except for the 3rd-place image by Dona Schwartz. Overall though some really good stuff this year. Well done to the judges and the photographers.

For the first time in many years I bought the catalogue – only £15, so the reproductions are not of the highest quality, but still a worthy purchase.

Amazon – Salgado at Somerset House

Extended until December 18th.

Sky is sponsoring a save the rainforest thing with pictures by Salgado and Per Anders Petterson.

There is a free mini-catalogue with a couple of Salgado’s pictures. He is as good as ever. Lots of pictures of the very disturbing Zo’e rainforest tribe who shove these huge bones through their lower lips. I really couldn’t get used to it at all. There’s nowt as queer as folk.

Free entry, great venue – with an ice rink, free mini-catalogue. Interesting pictures including a few stunners by Salgado.

Get yourself down there.

Real Venice at Somerset House

One more week to go…

Fourteen internationally renowned photographers were invited to visit Venice and create a portfolio of images. Each photographer has donated an edition of their portfolio to be sold in aid of Venice in Peril.

Real Venice is an exhibition of a selection of photographers who have donated these images to raise funds to preserve the sinking city.

These are very good photographers. Not all to my taste, but all excellent in their own way. The exhibition itself is testament to the power of photography as art and documentary and the astonishing variety which is possible within the broad scope of this assignment.

The full website with prices and for the original artwork can be found here. The site also has decent resolution images for web viewing, so if you cannot get to London for the show then they can be seen here.

I particularly liked Hiroshi Watanabe, Jules Spinatsch, Mimmo Jodice, and the street work of Tim Parchikov. Standing above the others for me though were Nan Goldin and Philip-Lorca Dicorcia.

The catalogue is available on Amazon. I didn’t buy it on the day for two reasons; firstly my bag was already very heavy and I still had quite a bit of walking to do, and secondly at £35 it’s a bit dearer than usual. If a catalogue costs less than £25 and I like the images I will always buy it, but £35 requires a bit more thought – I have to really really like it. I think I probably will get it from Amazon at some point.

Overall – Highly recommended!!

The print room at the V&A

Is open most days. Level 4 above the Sackler wing.

I just kind of wandered in, one of the staff suggested it. They have thousands of photographs in the collection. You have to have something in mind because it’s a museum after all. You just arrive, sign in and then head over to the computer terminals where you are faced with this website:


So what would you look for? Well in the face of such uncertainty and completely unprepared? I figured I’d go for Kertesz; he is after all my favourite photographer.

So I found a few items listed. Got the box number. Went over to the desk. The helpful curator did some more digging. “Looks like there are three boxes.” she said. “Would you like to see all of them?” Still somewhat unbelieving that such a thing was possible I said “Yes please, that would be wonderful.”

About thirty minutes later… Recognise any of these? The prints were acquired by the V&A in 1976. There is no charge for this service. You can just go in there and as long as you are polite and quiet, and see some museum-quality prints of some of the greatest photographs ever made. I’m still in shock. (The collection of course is not only photographs, in fact the photos are probably one of the smallest parts of the collection.)

I love this city.

Victoria & Albert Museum

I had the day off. Two choices – either go to Somerset House to see the Venice Photos, or to the V&A to the photo galleries.

Dithered a bit then decided on the V&A because it was closer and I’d read a review, and it was recommended in Time Out. Will get to the Venice exhibition next week.

The layout of the V&A is very confusing, the photos being split across 2 locations. The temporary one being downstairs in Level 1 and the more permanent upstairs on Level 3.

Apparently the section on Julia Margaret Cameron has been recently revised or included. Interesting. All very and intentionally soft, and quite unsettling for it. As you move towards them from across the room they go from seeming reasonably sharp to getting very soft and ghostly. Obvious metaphors abound and it really is refreshing to see some classic prints that eschew the camera enthusiasts’ obsession for sharpness at any cost. Even in her day this was true, and her pictures were a reaction against that to some extent. No doubt she would be an exponent of Lomography were she alive today.

I also discovered the print room. But that deserves a post of its own.

Took the X100 along of course, made a few random shots. The V&A is a beautiful building crammed full of beautiful objects.

Even managed a self portrait.

Eyewitness – Hungarian photography @ Royal Academy

I felt like I really needed a day off.

So this morning I saw a screening of the latest cut of Trishna, which my wife is editing – wonderful film. And then swung by the Royal Academy to catch the Eyewitness exhibition.

Pretty good photos of course. Lots of good photographers. But to be honest I would have been happier if they had that many photos all devoted to Kertesz. His photos, even in that distinguished company just blew everything else away.

Took along my X100 of course, which caused two movie types to say how cool it was and started a long conversation. Everyone LOVES this camera. Took a few pics.