Girl and Guinea Pig Scoop Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize

Jooney Woodward wins 2011 National Portrait Gallery photographic prize for image of young girl and her pet

A photograph of a 13-year-old holding her pet guinea pig has been awarded the 2011 National Portrait Gallery photographic prize – the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. The photograph that topped this year’s 6000 entries was taken by 32-year-old photographer Jooney Woodward, who will now receive £12,000 in prize money.

The picture was taken while Woodward was scouring the sheepdog trials, livestock competitions and regimental bands at the agricultural show in Builth Wells, Powys, for subject material. But it was not until she found the 13-year-old girl Harriet Power, clutching her guinea pig Gentleman Jack, that Woodward had the money shot. As she explains ‘I found her image immediately striking with her long, red hair and white stewarding coat’; ‘Using natural light from a skylight above, I took just three frames and this image was the first’.

Speaking of her artistic process, Woodward told how she doesn’t ‘mess around with Photoshop so what you see is what you get’; in her opinion ‘Enhanced images can portray a false sense of reality’ whereas she means for her work to ‘celebrate the people and places as they appear every day’.

This technique has evidently paid off, with the director National Portrait Gallery Sandy Nairne describing the portrait as a ‘brilliant, empathetic study of young woman’.

The 2nd prize went to a photograph by London photographer Jill Wooster, taken of her her friend Lili Ledbetter, from a series of images of women at pivotal stages in the lives.  3rd Prize went to a portrait of a couple in Minnesota by Dona Schwartz. The pair were shot in the vacated bedroom of their son, which forms a part of a series documenting moments of change in parents’ lives.

4th prize went to an image of a Chinese artist by Jasper Clarke, 33, and 5th prize went to David Knight, 40, for a portrait commissioned to raise awareness of cerebral palsy.

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