Portrait Salon

Second Chance Salon


We’re very pleased to be featured in this week’s Professional Photo Magazine which is out today. We spoke to Terry Hope about why Portrait Salon was set up and about some of the plans we have for Portrait Salon 2015.

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The magazine has also kindly offered a downloadable voucher for this issue (No.110) which is usually only available to featured photographers. All you need to do is print it out and take it to WHSmiths. Many thanks to Terry Hope and Roger Payne.

AP Magazine

We’re pleased to have a feature about why we set up Portrait Salon in this month’s Amateur Photographer Magazine. (Click on the images to enlarge and read).

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The Portrait Salon touring exhibition opens at it’s fourth venue on Monday 23rd February, at Gallery D at Edinburgh Napier University. Please do spread the word – more details about the exhibition can be found below. The exhibition is in Scotland until the 7th May before travelling to Birmingham.

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We hope you’ll join us at 6.30pm on Thursday 6th November for the launch of Portrait Salon 2014 at Four Corners Gallery, London or at Sticky Mike’s, Brighton with Miniclick. The prints of the selected images will be on show and this year’s publication will be available. The exhibition will then tour the UK into 2015.

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Happy New Year all! We are starting the new year with a bang, with our first ever PRINTED exhibition of the Portrait Salon 2013 selection. The exhibition will launch the new Fuse Art Space in Bradford, which is run by PS ‘12 selected photographer Sarah Faraday.

The launch is on 10 January, and there will be live music by BJ Nilsen as well as our exhibition and an opportunity to browse their shop, which will of course be stocking our newspaper.

James and I will be giving a talk on 15 February, sometime in the day time. More on that at a later date.

Check out the new Fuse website for more information on what they’ll be doing – it looks like a very exciting space!


Portrait Salon 2013, at Four Corners. Thank you all for coming – it was a great night! Photographs by Joe Plommer: http://www.joeplommer.co.uk/


This morning the BJP dropped on the mat. The predictable November Portrait Issue… to tie in with Taylor Wessing.

But what’s that I read in the editor’s foreword? Has the BJP finally realised what we all knew all along? “There are, as ever, striking and perceptive images among the 60 that go on show at the NPG in London in mid November, but collectively the pictures represent some kind of timewarp, where identical twins, sallow youths and freckled redheads are taking over the world.”

Simon Bainbridge goes on to say:
“Look out for this year’s most TWPPP-esque photograph featuring 2 lookalike red-haired girls wearing contrasting green jumpers, sat on a green bench against a green backdrop, sharing space with a giant ginger tomcat. Either the photographer thought they had struck Taylor Wessing gold, or someone’s taking the piss. The judges, who change round each year, tend to get the blame, but its the photographers, who keep entering the same pictures, hoping to replicate previous year’s successes but end up damning the competition to endless repetition.”

Portrait Salon was formed three years ago because James and I were fed up with the monotony of the Taylor Wessing. We were curious; we wanted to see whether what Simon Bainbridge states here is true. Did photographers really submit what they thought was going to get in? Or did it go deeper than that?

So we did an experiment. We set up this blog, set up an email address, and asked as many people as possible to send us their rejected entries. While there were an abundance of redheads (but haven’t redheads always been muses in the arts? Think of the pre-raphaelites, for one) there were LOADS of other, different types of portraits. And non portraits. That was perhaps the biggest surprise – that people entered images which weren’t actually portraits, but maybe more documentary or candid images… but that’s another argument.

Yes, the judges do change each year, but only four of them do. Two of them stay the same. And, so we’ve heard from photographers who have been honoured to be judges in the past, it’s those two same people who have the upper hand in the judging process. The Taylor Wessing Prize is really the work of Sir Terance Pepper and Sandy Nairn; it is what they want to show the world. To blame the photographers seems to be a little blinkered and very unfair.

This year, for the first time, Portrait Salon will show ALL the images which we received at Four Corners in Bethnal Green from 12 November. We will also be chairing a panel discussion about judging and the point of competitions, on 14 November at the same place. This will be free, and the panel consists of Harry Borden, ex-judge of TW prize, Eleanor Macnair, who used to work for National Portrait Gallery in the marketing department, and Steve Macleod from METRO Imaging, one of our sponsors who’s been a judge for many photography competitions.

Our message to BJP is this; come to our launch night, come see the images which have been rejected from Taylor Wessing prize, chat to photographers who are frustrated with it being the most important competition of the photography calendar. And open your eyes to what smaller organisations are doing to provide a true representation of contemporary photographic portraiture.