Carole Evans and James O Jenkins / Portrait Salon: Fifth Anniversary

Carole Evans and James O Jenkins / Portrait Salon: Fifth Anniversary


Portrait Salon is 5. 

In 2011, two photographers were curious. What were the images that didn’t get into the Taylor Wessing Prize, run by the National Portrait Gallery, like? To find out, we set up a hotmail account, a twitter handle, and printed some cheap flyers… in a few weeks we had around 600 images and Portrait Salon was born. From that moment on, we decided not to show everything, but invited judges to make a selection. In the last four years, we have shown work by over 200 photographers, worked with ten judges, exhibited in eleven venues across the UK, and published four newspapers. But every year we were asked the same questions; “Why don’t you show all the rejected images you receive?” “We submit prints to Taylor Wessing, why don’t you show those?” 

So this year, to mark our fifth birthday, we’re showing one print from each photographer who sent work to us. 368 photographs, all submitted to the Taylor Wessing prize, and all rejected. All displayed at Embassy Tea Gallery in London for a few days in November, before touring to The Reminders Photography Stronghold in Tokyo, Japan in February 2016.

This year, the National Portrait Gallery received submissions from 2,201 photographers, so we are representing almost 20% of entrants. It is an eclectic mix, ranging from the formal studio portrait to the family snapshot. This year’s Salon will not be to everyone’s taste, but the point of showing work by everyone this year is to exhibit the breadth of work that is submitted to the National Portrait Gallery each year.

The definition of a portrait is broad, something which is reflected in the Taylor Wessing prize and noted by Phillip Prodger, Head of Photographs at the NPG. He has been kind enough to give us an interview, in which he explains the judging process, his thoughts on photographic portraiture, and the place of the Taylor Wessing Prize in the current photographic climate.

We have changed the format of the publication, too. Not a newspaper, as in previous years… but a DIY sticker book. It would have been impossible to put 368 images into any sort of publication, so we’re giving you a chance to create your own catalogue. Fill the allotted spaces with your favourite portraits, swap with others, do what you want. In addition to this, judges we’ve worked with in the past tell us their favourite images from previous years, as do our kind sponsors.

Portrait Salon would not exist without the very kind support of our sponsors, many of whom have been with us since the first funded Salon in 2012. They’ve been an integral part of Portrait Salon, providing so much more than financial support. We owe much of our success to them, and we hope that you will enjoy reading about what they do too.

Portrait Salon 2015 is a celebration. It’s a thank you to our sponsors, collaborators and supporters. But mainly, it’s a thank you to the photographers. Thank you for continuing to have pride in your work. Thank you for submitting to the Taylor Wessing Prize. Thank you for submitting to Portrait Salon.

And Happy Birthday to us.

  – Carole Evans and James O Jenkins


Portrait Salon 2015  exhibited at Embassy Tea Gallery, London, in November 2015 with 570 attendees voting for ‘people’s choice’ portraits; 1st place was Alan Powdrill, 2nd place Julia Fullerton-Batten, 3rd place was Phil Sharp and 4th place Matt McPake.

Portrait Salon will travel to The Reminders Photography Stronghold Gallery in Tokyo with Yumi Goto from 13th to 28th February 2016. The opening will be from 4pm on 13th February and is open to all, and please visit the Facebook event page for the exhibition here.