It’s That Taylor Wessing Time of Year

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With only three days left to enter the Taylor Wessing photographic portrait prize, I am still deciding what to enter. I have one definite portrait in mind and one other that I’m not so sure about. The Taylor Wessing has the most complex entry system of all the competitions I’ve entered. All the others accept digital files. Taylor Wessing requires A3 prints, minimum. Here’s what this involves for me.

– Entry fee of £26 per image.

– A trip to London with my negs, to my printer to get the prints made and approved that same day. No one in Bristol prints C-types from negs these days and there is no point entering with an inferior quality print.

– the size A3 (not a photographic paper size) needs to be printed on 24×20 paper costing £105 +VAT, really hoping the lab will do me a deal.

-Courier fee £30 to pick up the prints, packaged to exact requirements, the day before I leave to go on holiday. Delivered during the exact dates and office opening hours. I could use special delivery, but they don’t guarantee delivering within these times and not on Saturdays.

So even if I manage to get a cheep ticket to London, we are talking hundreds of pounds to enter two images. This expense makes taking a risk less likely. The chances are your going to play it safe and it makes me wonder if this effects the overall entries.

I have lost count of the number of times I’ve entered the competition, but I think this year could be my 7th attempt. So why bother with the expense and complicated entry system? Because the majority of my work are portraits and TW is the largest, most high profile, photographic portrait prize in the country. It’s preferred style may be traditional and lack surprises, but it’s always controversial. We love it and we hate it and it is an institution in itself.

This year, for the first time I’ll also be entering Portrait Salon. Now in it’s fourth year, Portrait Salon only accepts the rejected images from TW -genius! With around only 60 images selected by TW and 6,000 rejected each year the PS is a really high calibre selection of work, more interesting that TW, and more in line with current photographic practice.

So this year I can spread the expense across two competitions. I can afford to take more risk and I feel like playing a wild card along with my safe bet. But the gamble this year feels more like betting each way.



  1. Excellent comment on Taylor Wessing Kirsty.
    Do hope I will see your portraits hanging in the NPG this year.
    Best of luck.

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