Taylor Wessing photography prize latest annual event to migrate online

Image: Last year's Third Prize winner, The Hubbucks from the series England by Garrod Kirkwood © Garrod Kirkwood

The annual Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is the latest fixture of the cultural calendar to transition from a physical exhibition to a digital show, but this particular shift wasn’t brought on solely by coronavirus.

The work of this year’s finalists will be displayed as a virtual exhibition on the National Portrait Gallery’s website, opening up the photographic portraits to the largest global audience in the prize’s history.

Unlike many industry staples to have been disrupted solely by the pandemic – the Turner Prize was cancelled and the BP Portrait Award moved online – it was always planned for 2020’s Taylor Wessing exhibition to be a digital offering.

With the National Portrait Gallery closed until spring 2023 for its landmark redevelopment work, the scheduling of the photography event would never have been able to welcome visitors in person.

The international photographic portrait competition is welcoming submissions until 5pm on Tuesday 22nd September 2020, with entry fees reduced to £20 to reflect the change in format. The winner of the competition will receive £15,000, with second prize receiving £3,000 and third prize £2,000.

This year for the very first time, shortlisted works will be displayed in a virtual gallery space that replicates the rooms of the National Portrait Gallery. The People’s Pick feature of the annual prize will also run online, offering the public chance to vote for their favourite portrait.

“I hope that by displaying the exhibition online we will be able to share the very best in contemporary portrait photography with audiences across the world, many of whom would not ordinarily have the opportunity to visit the exhibition in London,” says Dr Nicholas Cullinan, director of the National Portrait Gallery.