Thursday 14 May 2015

Previously unseen prints by the award-winning South African photographer, Pieter Hugo, will go on show in the inaugural In Focus display within the National Portrait Gallery’s major global photography exhibition, the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015, it was announced today.

In Focus will become an annual showcase for new work by an internationally-renowned photographer, which will be exhibited alongside the photographs selected anonymously from the competition entries. As the first ever In Focus artist, Hugo was chosen by the Gallery for his uncompromising, insightful and occasionally provocative approach to portraiture.

Submissions for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 are now being accepted until Monday 6 July 2015. For the first time, entrants to the competition are being encouraged to submit works as a series – either a group of individual portraits based on a particular theme, or two or more photographs that form a single portrait when shown together – in addition to stand-alone portraits. One series of photographs submitted to the competition may be chosen by the judges to be exhibited in its entirety. In another change to the competition, there is now no minimum size requirement for submitted prints.

Pieter Hugo is known for his documentary-style portrait photographs of marginalised communities in Africa. His photographic projects have included honey gatherers in Ghana, boy scouts in Liberia and taxi washers in Durban. Hugo’s most recognised work is The Hyena & Other Men from 2007, a collection of striking portraits of the ‘Hyena Men’ who roam the streets of Nigeria’s cities accompanied by hyenas and baboons, performing for crowds and selling traditional medicine. The project attracted media attention in 2011 when commentators suggested that it was the inspiration behind Beyoncé’s music video for her single Run the World (Girls).

Hugo’s most recent publication, Kin, is a collection of images from the past decade and focuses on his personal experience in his native South Africa – his family, the community, and himself. Hugo has exhibited world-wide, published eight volumes of work, and won numerous international awards, including two prizes at Rencontres d’Arles in 2008 and the Seydou Keita Award at the Bamako Encounters African Photography Biennial in Mali in 2011. Hugo was also shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize in 2012.

The Photographic Portrait Prize, sponsored by Taylor Wessing since 2008, is one of the most competitive photography awards in the world and showcases the work of some of the most exciting and cutting-edge contemporary photographers. Since the international competition began in 1993, it has remained a hugely important platform for portrait photographers and offers an unparalleled opportunity for celebrated professionals, emerging artists and amateurs alike.

Selected anonymously from an open competition, the diversity of styles in the exhibition reflects the international mix of entrants as well as the range of approaches to the portrait genre, including formal, candid, and experimental images.

Dr Phillip Prodger, Head of Photographs, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize has always been distinguished by its creative, forward-thinking approach to portraiture. These exciting changes are being made in response to demand and changes in contemporary artistic practice.

‘Pieter Hugo is one of the most exciting contemporary portraitists working today and I am delighted that he will be producing new work for this year’s exhibition. We encourage entrants to interpret ‘portraiture’ in the widest possible sense and Hugo’s compelling images are an excellent example of how diverse photographic portraiture can be.’

Tim Eyles, Managing Partner, Taylor Wessing LLP, says: ‘The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize marks an exciting time of year for Taylor Wessing. We place great importance on supporting creativity in our community, and by participating in this exciting artistic venture we closely connect our firm’s culture and values to our ongoing support of the arts. Every year the images submitted for the Prize are challenging, thought provoking and beautiful in their own different ways. We look forward to seeing what this year's entries will bring.’

The competition is open to anyone over the age of 18. Full information about how to enter, including entry forms and rules, can be found online at . Also featured on the website are four short videos in which renowned contemporary photographers reflect on the competition and what winning or being shortlisted for the Photographic Portrait Prize has meant to them.

This year’s judging panel will include Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery; Dr Phillip Prodger, Head of Photographs, National Portrait Gallery; Hannah Starkey, Photographer; Anne Lyden, International Photography Curator, Scottish National Portrait Gallery; and Tim Eyles, Managing Partner, Taylor Wessing LLP. One further judge is still to be confirmed.


12 November 2015 – 21 February 2016

Admission £4 (concessions £3)

Supported by Taylor Wessing

Deadline for submissions: Monday 6 July 2015


A catalogue featuring all the selected photographs will accompany the exhibition (RRP £15).

For further Press information and image requests please contact:

Sylvia Ross, Press Officer, National Portrait Gallery

Tel: 020 7321 6620 (not for publication) / Email: [email protected]   

To download Press images:

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place WC2H 0HE, opening hours Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 10.00 – 18.00 (Gallery closure commences at 17.50) Late Opening: Thursday, Friday: 10.00 – 21.00  (Gallery closure commences at 20.50) Nearest Underground: Leicester Square/Charing Cross General information: 0207 306 0055  Recorded information: 020 7312 2463  Website 


The winner of the First Prize will receive £12,000. The Second Prize winner receives £3,000, the Third Prize £2,000 and the Fourth Prize is £1,000. For the fourth consecutive year, the John Kobal New Work Award will be awarded to a photographer under the age of thirty whose work has been selected for the exhibition. The winning photographer will receive a cash prize of £4,000 to include undertaking a commission from the Gallery to photograph a sitter connected with the UK film industry.

Taylor Wessing is a full-service international law firm, with more than 1,200 lawyers in 26 offices worldwide, working with clients in the world’s most dynamic industries. We take a single-minded approach to advising our clients, helping them succeed by thinking innovatively about their business issues. Our focus on the industries of tomorrow has enabled us to develop market-leading expertise in: Technology, Media and Communications, Life Sciences, Private Wealth and Energy. At Taylor Wessing we are proud of our reputation as a forward thinking firm. Taylor Wessing was named Law Firm of the Year at The Lawyer Awards 2013.

Pieter Hugo (born 1976 in Johannesburg) is a photographic artist living in Cape Town. Major museum solo exhibitions have taken place at The Hague Museum of Photography, Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, Ludwig Museum in Budapest, Fotografiska in Stockholm,  MAXXI in Rome and the Institute of Modern Art Brisbane, among others. Hugo has participated in numerous group exhibitions at institutions including Tate Modern, the Folkwang Museum, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, and the São Paulo Bienal. His work is represented in prominent public and private collections, among them the Museum of Modern Art, V&A Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, J Paul Getty Museum, Walther Collection, Deutsche Börse Group, Folkwang Museum and Huis Marseille. Hugo received the Discovery Award at the Rencontres d’Arles Festival and the KLM Paul Huf Award in 2008, the Seydou Keita Award at the Rencontres de Bamako African Photography Biennial in 2011, and was shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2012.