Genesis have a long history of working with photographers to achieve exceptional results for entries for the National Portrait Gallery’s Photographic Portrait Prize, in its many incarnations over the years. In our fourth Taylor Wessing Client Spotlight, photographer Paul Stuart shares insight into his portrait of Centenarian John Harrison which features in this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery…
On his practice…
“I studied a BTEC Media Studies course in the 90’s. Initially I was interested in working in Film & TV but photography seemed to have much more freedom and I liked the fact that I didn’t have to rely on anyone else.
I find people fascinating and portraiture enables me to explore my curiosity, it gives me “a passport to be nosy”. The engagement with my subject is the most important thing for me. A portrait is only a version of truth. A camera can take a relatively realistic impression of likeness but what it does exceptionally well, is capture a moment; an atmosphere. However, creating atmosphere and capturing a decisive moment is difficult. I give a lot of thought to light and environment but also how my behaviour will influence the subject. Silence is a powerful tool.
Vermeer & Rembrandt’s use of daylight were big influences on my practice and Lucian Freud is someone I often look at – I like his unflattering realism and the psychology that exists between artist and model. Photographically, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Magnum, Philip-Lorca di Corcia, and Paul Seawright have all influenced me.”
On his image in The Taylor Wessing exhibition…
“I’ve entered the prize for the past three years, and this year I entered five images which I decided to print these as Lambda C-type prints as large as the rules allowed. This is the first year I have entered personal work, however, stylistically I don’t think my work has changed in this time. The portrait of John Harrison that is exhibited as part of the portrait prize exhibition is part of my Centenarian project of 100, 100 year olds.
With continued increase in life expectancy, the ONS estimate there will be more than half a million people in the UK aged of 100 by 2066. Living beyond 100 will become the norm for children born within the next generation. I am interested in the quality of life and general well-being of living this long and to open a conversation about the consequences.”
On entering the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize…
“I don’t think about what the judges are looking for when I enter; I prefer to concentrate on what I like. The rules are changing with the submissions from next year, so it will be easier to enter but harder to get accepted. The only advice I could give is to go with what you believe in.”
The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize
17 November 2016 – 26 February 2017
The National Portrait Gallery
St Martin’s Place