Taylor Wessing Prize at the National Portrait Gallery

-This exhibition is now closed-

The 2012 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery features competition entries by some of the world’s best contemporary photographers.

The most successful portraits in the exhibition highlight the reactions of normal people to the camera’s presence, from the endearing self-consciousness of the young women in Zed Nelson‘s Roumelia and Moesha to the calm confidence of Jennifer Pattison’s topless subject in Lynne, Brighton. Mark McEvoy‘s Dahlia, 7 Weeks, a passport-style snapshot of the photographer’s baby daughter, is one of my favourites for the honesty of the baby’s naïve, startled expression.

The PR-conscious celebrity portraits in the exhibition belong to an entirely different genre; David Clerihew’s bizarre, tense portrait of Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton feels like a particularly cynical attempt at celebrity brand management. On the other hand, Nadia Lee Cohen’s carefully staged and symbolic American Nightmare makes for a fabulously camp addition to the show.

The exhibition is open until 17 February.