28-year-old London-based Spanish photographer Jordi Ruiz Cirera has been awarded the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012 for his photograph of a 26-year-old woman from Bolivia who was reluctant to sit for the camera.
Cirera was presented the £12,000 award last night at the National Portrait Gallery in London, where the winning portrait will be displayed from Thursday 8 November 2012.
Jordi’s portrait of Maria, a Mennonite from the Swift Current Colony in Bolivia, is part of his long-term project portraying the daily life of this community. He says, ‘almost all of the houses have tables in front of their windows giving fantastic light to the scene. Sitting in front of the camera was not easy for Maria, photography is forbidden for Mennonites and having her direct portrait taken was quite difficult so I could only take two frames of her. Even though we were enjoying the situation, Maria posed with this sort of awkward expression.’
Second prize of £3,000 was awarded to Jennifer Pattison for her portrait ‘Lynne, Brighton’. Her shortlisted portrait is of her friend Lynne and was taken in the empty bedroom of a derelict house in Brighton. It is part of a currently untitled series of naked portraits and landscapes. Pattison says: ‘There is an interesting shift in the consciousness of the sitter during the slow process of making these portraits; a moment in the quiet where they become unaware that they are naked. I capture them as they drift to another place. With no direction Lynne adopted this straightforward pose, bare and undaunted, looking straight down the lens and beyond.’ Pattison has worked for many photographers including David Sims and has worked as an intern at the photographs department at the V&A. She is currently focusing on her own career as a photographer.
Third place and a prize of £2,000 was awarded to Spencer Murphy for his portrait ‘Mark Rylance’. His shortlisted portrait is of actor Mark Rylance and was commissioned for the cover of The Telegraph Magazine to mark the actor’s return to Shakespeare’s Globe to play Richard III. Murphy says: ‘I’ve always enjoyed working with actors as there’s no awkwardness or discomfort in front of the camera and they are able to understand direction and react to it very easily. Mark was no exception.’ The recipient of many awards and shortlisted for the Sony World Photography Awards in both 2010 and 2011, Murphy’s work has been exhibited internationally. His work has been exhibited as part of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize six times, although this is the first time he has been shortlisted.
In fourth place with a prize of £1,000 is Alma Haser for her picture, ‘The Ventriloquist’. Her shortlisted portrait, taken in her shared house in South London, is of friends Luke and James who have known each other since they were twelve. Struck by their hairstyles, Haser initially planned to take separate portraits but it was difficult to get them to concentrate so she decided to photograph them together. She says: ‘I asked them to sit on a tiny, wobbly coffee table, forcing them to almost cling onto each other. Ultimately I wanted to turn their verbal banter into a visual image. The title is designed to help viewers make up their own stories about what is going on.’