Category Archives: Portraiture

Photo Competition: Visual artist Lucia Pizzani and filmmaker David Jackson win Hotshoe Photofusion Award 2014

Now in its fifth year, I was delighted to announce the winners of the Hotshoe Photofusion Award 2014 at the gallery last week (11 December) with a short comment on the work, which I have reproduced below. The winners are:

Lucia Pizzani for her Impronta series 2013 of ink-jet prints derived from the wet-plate collodion process. The work is a hybrid of sculpture, performance and photography and engages with the idea of the chrysalis on a number of levels, including its physical form through the use of specially-made chrysalis costumes. This series of delicate and slightly bizarre black-and-white images recalls the style of 19th-century Victorian ethnographic portraiture and suggest women on the verge of emerging, as well as ideas of metamorphosis and transformation. (photo above © Lucia Pizzani)

Film Still_04 Film Still_03 Film Still_02
David Jackson, This Is Not My House is a short film of 14 minutes shot in Malta and centred on the filmmaker’s widowed father. Gentle and beautifully crafted, the film avoids the usual clichés and instead offers a series of tenderly stitched vignettes that give a sense of the now increasingly solitary life of his ageing father. At one point in the film there is a short exchange between father and son, who also share the same first name, that conveys so much about their relationship and a growing similarity in mannerism, posture and even dress. (film stills above © David Jackson)

The winner/s receive a feature (in this case I have interviewed the winners for a post next week) on, and a free annual magazine subscription. Previous winners received a feature in the magazine but since it has changed to a quarterly frequency, this is no longer the case.

Since I started judging the selection in 2010, there have also been changes in the way the award is organised. For the first two years, I judged the winner from a shortlisted selection of six photographers and visual artists on show at the gallery. Since 2012, Photofusion has organised a salon-style hang showing single images from its members and this year for Photofusion SALON/14 there were over 1200 images from 140 artists.

People often ask me about judging photo competitions and in an early post, Discovering Your Competitive Side, I talked about how I select work. This year, as in previous years, I asked Photofusion to send me a folder with all the entries stripped of the photographer’s name so that I only have a number for each entry, plus an artist statement and CV with the names removed. In my line of work, there is, inevitably, work that I may recognize, but that is the nature of photo competitions so I try to maintain as much parity in judging the work as I can.

I like to look at the work first, reflect on it, return to it, and see which images stay in my mind over a couple of days. I also read the artist statement once I have looked at the images, not before, as they can help anchor the work, point to conceptual aspects that may not be gleaned solely by looking at the work, and suggest points of investigation by the photographer. Lastly I look at the CV, although in most cases I do not refer to this at all. I am only interested in the work submitted and supporting statements or captions, it makes no difference to me whether someone studied at the Royal College of Art, or a lesser-known institution or whether the entrant is self-taught. For me, it is about the work, not the perceived pedigree.

I then whittled 100 folders of single images down to a longlist of around 20, for which I requested any further images by the photographer who was, at this stage, named. For those of you who are interested here is the longlist:

Wendy Aldiss; Valerie Bennett; Tom Broadbent; James Clark; Scarlett Crawford; CJ Everard;  Gabriella Fabrowska; Keith Greenouth; Robert Hackman; Grace Hardy; Esme Horne; Aron Klein-Barge; Lucy Levene; Emilia Moisio; Vincenzo Sassu; Heather Shuker; Emma Evelyn Speight; Nai Wen Hsu; Remy Whitling

Moroccan stylist and photographer Hassan Hajjaj goes pop in The Future of Fashion Show Holland

Khadija Lagnawia, 2013
Metallic Lambda print on Dibond with wood and found objects, 52.5 x 37 in. Courtesy of the artist and GUSFORD | los angeles

Summer may be on the wane but these bold bright portraits should cheer you up. Thanks to record producer and DJ Mark Moore for pointing me to this recent article on The Huffington Post about 53-year-old multidisciplinary artist Hassan Hajjaj who was born in Morocco and “moved to London in his teens, at the height of the punk craze”.

“For the last 15 years, he’s joined the two cultures, splitting his time between Marrakech and London as he turns out densely textured portrait photography that plays well in the West but requires North African artistry to even exist at all… His subjects are his current friends, who pose and dress in ways that translate into arresting hybrid art.” The Huffington Post

His flamboyant Pop-Up Pop-Art portraits combine elements of the traditional studio portrait with African-inspired textiles and props made from domestic and recycled bottles, tins and packets of food. Hajjaj is a self-taught artist, influenced by hip-hop, reggae and the club scene.

V.B.F., 2013

Metallic Lambda print on Dibond with wood and found objects, 35.5 x 25.5 in. Courtesy of the artist and GUSFORD | los angeles

His work can be seen in the upcoming The Future of Fashion is Now exhibition on show from 11 October 2014 to 18 January 2015 at Museum Boijman Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. “The exhibition examines the critical stance that young fashion designers worldwide are adopting with regard to ‘the fashion system’ and the role of clothes in contemporary society. Designers with non-Western backgrounds and designers from countries bordering Europe, where until recently there was little or no tradition of fashion, are actively seeking to transform the fashion system.” From Taymour Grahne Gallery website

Mr J. James, 2013

Metallic Lambda print on Dibond with wood and found objects, 36.5 x 25 in. Courtesy of the artist and GUSFORD | los angeles.

Photo News – Three days left to make a pledge for Tal Shpantzer’s crowdfunded The Petal Project

All images © Tal Shpantzer 2014

“Reinforcing the relationship between natural forms, underlines the essential inter connectivity of all beings.” Tal Shpantzer

After a long break, a time for some R ‘n’ R, I wanted to let you know about a crowdfunded project The Petal Project by Tal Shpantzer. The Petal Project is an ongoing portrait photography series shot in Greenpoint Brooklyn, NY studio, from 2010 to present. Tal has set up a crowdfunded campaign to make this record into a first edition printed photo book with a run of 500 copies and it has just three days to go (2 July).

Tal Shpantzer is a fine art portrait and fashion photographer who says of the work: “I am captivated by the dialogues that emerge through each woman and petal portrait. A raw and unpretentious moment can reveal complexities, evoke imagined histories, and hidden truths.”


“The project began with a portrait of a friend. Exhibiting this first Petal Portrait in a Chelsea gallery, people immediately responded to the provocative expression of femininity, inner power, fragility, strength and sensuality I was able to capture between woman & petal. I decided to continue with a series, restaging that initial photo with different women and flowers.

“I began photographing women around me that I found inspiring: friends, family, colleagues.  As the project grew, a mosaic emerged; an increasingly dynamic and diverse group of women brought their individually unique presence to each sitting creating a rich and complex dialog… Each Petal Portrait has been an empowering and collaborative experience. ”

The series is rooted in her own experience with the reconfiguration of personal memory after a yearlong period of amnesia. Her work in photography and image-making has been published and exhibited nationally and internationally, and featured in HBO, MTV, TOPMAN Generation Magazine, Rolling Stone, Italian Vogue, Creem, Kid- In & W Magazine. The Petal Project has been chosen to be in the Saatchi online Curated Collection. You can find out more on her indiegogo website page The Petal Project.


PHOTO OPPORTUNITY – In Pictures photo agency looking to take on new photographers for representation

UK - TUC protest march - Anarchists demontration cuts through central London. Photo Mike Kemp

UK – TUC protest march – Anarchists demontration cuts through central London. Photo Mike Kemp

China - Liaoning - Dalian, Russian tourists drawn to Bohai sea beaches.

China – Liaoning – Dalian, Russian tourists drawn to Bohai sea beaches. Photo Fritz Hoffmann

It makes a change to be able to post a call for photographers that could actually lead to work. If you are a professional documentary style photographer working in news, features, travel or street photography, In Pictures would very much like to hear from you.

In Pictures is an independent photo agency representing the work of documentary photographers for licensing as features and single images on a non-exclusive basis. Founded by editor/photographer Mike Kemp,with distribution via Corbis and direct through

Uruguay - Vichadero - Portrait of Gaucho on ranch.

Uruguay – Vichadero – Portrait of Gaucho on ranch. Photo Christopher Pillitz

Send a link to your website and a brief introduction about your work and what you do.

Please email your introduction and link to Mike Kemp:

In Pictures is interested in both London based photographers, and those who are further afield, so if you know of anyone who may also be interested, please feel free to pass on this invitation.

Rwanda - Kibileze - Narcisse prays with his family at home, Photo Stuart Freedman

Rwanda – Kibileze – Narcisse prays with his family at home

United Kingdom - London - Stamford Hill Orthodox Jewish Men

United Kingdom – London – Stamford Hill Orthodox Jewish Men. Photo Andrew Aitchison

There are some excellent photographers included in the list below, who are represented by In Pictures:

Andrew Aitchison (photo above)
Anna Kari
Barry Lewis (photo below)
Chien-Min Chung
Christopher Pillitz (photo above)
Fritz Hoffmann (photo above)
Guilhem Alandry
Jenny Matthews
Kieran Doherty
Kristian Buus
Louis Quail
Manca Juvan
Michael Amendolia
Mike Kemp (photo above)
Mimi Mollica
Paul Hackett
Phil Clarke Hill
Qilai Shen
Richard Baker
Roger Hutchings
Stuart Freedman (photo above)
Tessa Bunney

UK - Literature - British writer Will Self.

UK – Literature – British writer Will Self. Photo Barry Lewis

Photo Stroll LOOK13 Liverpool International Photography Festival Pt 1 – Rankin’s Alive: In the Face of Death

The second edition of LOOK13 Liverpool International Festival (17 May -15 June 2013) opened in May and closed this weekend, but you can still catch some of  the exhibitions taking place in Liverpool.

In collaboration with some of Liverpoolʼs well-known museums and galleries, LOOK/13 presented “a diverse programme of contemporary and historical exhibitions” that includes new work by the portrait photographer Rankin, Alive: In the Face of Death (until 15 September) at the Walker Art Gallery in a show in which he “sets out to explore and challenge our perceptions of death”; rarely-seen early photographs by Martin Parr and Tom Wood in Every Man and Woman is a Star (until 18 August), and Double Take: Portraits from the Keith Medley archive (15 September). Bringing together influential and established photographers, presented alongside international emerging talent, LOOK/13 explored ideas of subjectivity and selfhood, based around the question, ʻwho do you think you are?ʼ.

Today’s post is a Photo Stroll through, Alive: In the Face of Death – a slick offering encompassing a diverse range of photographic approaches to the subject of death, which will also be the subject of a BBC2 Culture Show documentary this summer. The Walker Art Gallery is impressive and the space given over to the show is substantial – there’s even a wall for visitors to record their responses to the show with coloured post-it notes and details of The Dying Matters coalition, an organisation that seeks to encourage more open discussion around dying, death, and bereavement.

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Alongside portraits of those who are terminally ill, or who have faced death, are photographs of people whose business is death  – from a gravedigger and the only UK maker of death masks, to a studio where the ashes of a loved one can be incorporated into cremation tattoos. Rankin’s own responses to the subject feature too, reflected in a series of self portrait, as well as in his ‘life’ masks, including the one captioned, Michael Jackson, which caused some confusion.

From skulls – whether they are Vanitas, Day of the Dead, Damien Hirst or Salvador Dali-influenced ones – to ‘life’ masks, Rankin hones in on familiar symbols of death, borrows heavily from them and then offers back his collection of works beautifully packaged. His heart-shaped display Anne + Roy is a tribute to his now dead parents and the variously-sized photos of his parents mirrors the ongoing fashion in contemporay photography for the vernacular, the personal archive and the family album. Death is an emotive, and often gloomy, subject but in Alive: In the Face of Death, Rankin celebrates life.