Taylor Wessing portrait prize

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David-Chancellors-Huntres-001

The prize went to David Chancellor, via The Guardian.

There Are 12 Comments On This Article.

  1. Love the picture. I am wondering how that girl hucked an elk on top of the horse. I bet the horse was like ” hurry up and take the shot, I got an elk on my back!”

  2. Seems that South African Women who hunt are a lot stronger than they look. Looks like a Roan Antelope though. I would love to spend about a year in Africa shooting portraits of the people there. I think the horse is thinking get this appetizer off my back before some lion thinks its dinner time.

  3. Taylor Wessing is the wankerfest of all the wankerfest photo contests, so lame it makes PDN look cool.

  4. i have a hard time stomaching the idealization, the glamourization (i wish that was a word), the glorification, the “look how cool and sexy it looks to kill animals for sport,” part of this picture.

    Kill an antelope and you get a sexy gal to go with it.

    In our day and age, it is hard to stomach this picture, and reprehensible that in choosing this portrait as winner, an organization of artists is promoting, supporting, deifying, the ongoing assault on the animal species of the world, half of which, mind you, are on the verge of extinction. A new generation of kids are now exposed to the idea that killing animals for sport is the next big thing in photography.

    As a photog who was thought the ways of hunting as a child growing up in South-America, but who was exposed to American ideas (only wish they applied to humans, too, in some states) that life is sacrosanct in all forms, i find this repulsive and contemptible. Beyond measure. And that a photog uses it to aggrandize his career and craft turns my stomach.

    Might as well go back to taking those awful 19th C. portraits of white hunters.

    Half of the world species wil lbe gone within the next few decades. Does Mr. Chacellor know that with this picture he is contributing to that slaughter?

  5. Well said Marco Aurelio. You hit the nail right on the head. Killing animals is so yesterday. If it ever has been necessary since we stopped needing to kill animals to eat. There is nothing beautiful about a dead animal.

  6. @ Marcus, Cynthia Wood and Vee. I would respectfully suggest that you re-examine the work of David Chancellor.

    This is documentary photography and while your opinions about hunting, the sanctity of all life and brutality of killing are entirely valid, the assertion that this was somehow a shallow thoughtless staged picture is not only wide of the mark and poorly informed but also belittles Chancelor’s work as a photographer and undermines your own strongly held beliefs.

    To me the picture is a quite shocking rejection of hunting. The contrast of someone so young with such an ugly act, seemingly unaffected by what she has done or participated in. Really I find it to be the opposite of all the things you accuse it of being.

    South African society has always had very different paradigms of behavior and I don’t believe that anyone who has taken the time to acquaint themselves with Chancellor’s photographs could ever think this was in any way a glorification of the practice so much as an examination.

    As for his entering for self-aggrandisement, I would say two things:

    Firstly, he has proved himself as a photographer in enough different disciplines that he should be at least suspected of good intentions and not written-off without thought.

    Secondly, let us not kid ourselves. We do not take photographs to remain anonymous. We do so to communicate and contests are part of that process. If we succeed we will inevitably receive plaudits and praise. But if you make a photograph that you truly believe to be important, why would you NOT enter it to competitions?

    Take a look at his work. You may or may not like it. But it definitely deserves at least your considered and informed opinion rather than your gut reactions.

    As a parting salvo, the description of a 14 year old girl as sexy is inappropriate.

    • Hi Justin, thank you for your reply. a bit dreary and rainny here in Medellin, Colombia. My desktop crashed a week ago, and was out in the Andes countryside working on a long-term project. Thus my delay in reading your thoughts, for which I apologize, and in sending back some civil thoughts in response.

      No need for salvos, friend. We are adults, and intelligent, and civil. We have the capacity, tools, and character to engage in an exchange of ideas without any ill-will or conflict. Isnt there already too much acrimony in our society?

      Justin, it was a very thoughtful and considered opinion. The gut reaction was secondary, and if I am guilty of anything it is perhaps that the tone should have been more measured. But, I have seen animals being killed, first hand, and killed some myself as a child in hunting. And my memories are not pleasant at all. Not pleasant at all.

      No, it is precisely because the feel of this photograph is the exact opposite of “shallow, thoughtless” that I had such a strong reaction. Indeed, it comes across as very well thought out, conceptually and emotionally complex, with a great deal of depth, superb in technique, and that includes some gauzy (idyllic) filtering in post-production, and whether you or I or anybody likes it or not, it is a “glamour” shot (look up Vogue African editorials from the 70s and 80s under editor Sara Jane Hoare): the late afternoon warm light, the impeccable dress–I have hunted as a child, Justin, your clothes get really messy because you have your body and nose to the ground all the time, in fact, it is highly preferable to mess yourself up with soil and grass for a host of reasons which would be another hunting story for another day–, the appearance of a young woman who may come across as a teenager or a young adult (I hope you realize human beings don’t have age numbers typed across their foreheads, and a 12 year old in many cultures will look 21 without effort), and who is conspicuously and consciously made to appear “sexy”. Let me reiterate, her “sexiness” is purposeful in the picture, it is what the author has constructed and wants us to see. Would the picture have won with a 55 year/old male, Idaho hunter uglier than thou or I and messy to the tilt? To me, it is very evident that the author was aware that he was portraying her as “sexy.” That was what I expressed. He means for us to see her as sexy. It’s called a sexually explicit objectification of a woman, and in this case of a child. That is what comes across because the author has manipulated the scene in such a way that he is making her appear “sexy.” I am not calling her “sexy.” I am accusing the author of being conscious about portraying her as sexy. Of knowingly, pardon the redundancy, “knowing” the sexually-explicit effect it would have on the viewers of the picture. And, consequently, I am accusing the editors and/or the judges who selected this picture as winner of partaking in that little wink wink moment of the collective “male gaze.” I would bet a dollar all the judges were men. Which, if you realize what I am saying, now that I you inform me the girl is just 14 years-old, it is even more reprehensible, because the author is sexualizing a minor. If you think I am over-reaching, just ask any woman in your life how she feels about the sexually objectification of their bodies and the sexually-charged visual representation of women in the media at large. Ask them how they are made to feel by the inane number of sexually-coded imagery in all media today.

      Unfortunately, Justin, and awfully, outside of the non-puritan-U.S. world, almost every girl on earth 12 years old or younger or older is seen as sexually-exploitable material (look up stories by nytimes op-ed editor Kristoff). She is defined as sexual property. European and American tourists flock by the hundreds of thousands to places in the East where for a few dollars they can buy sex with girls as young as ten. One of the reasons that occurs is because visual material, ehem, photographs, and the like, that sexually objectify women and girls carpet the internet. On some level, and in the same manner, this picture is feeding a sexual fantasy for many men, Justin. It may not be the case for you, and certainly it is not the case for me… since it is precisely that misplaced fantasy I was reacting to, thus my original strong reaction, but it is the case for many men out there, and now young photographers who would want to emulate the aura and tone of this picture. Why do you think the young Britney Spears appeared in catholic, school-girl uniform on her early videos? Down here in Colombia girls 10-12 years old are used in publicity campaigns to model underwear. Today, in the 21st Century, I find that unconscionable. And that is one of the things I am reacting against, when I said that what the photograph was saying is… “go kill an antelope and you get a sexy girl to go with it,” or look… “hunting is sexy.” The perpetual, cliché, anachronistic, tired, sexual objectification of the woman body as male property, and as object to be fanatsize about and swexually coveted and possessed. Hey, I can be a manly hunter, and I will get access to a hot young girl. Who cares if she is 12 or 14 or 16. If you read about pedophilia, sex slavery in the world today, that is exactly what a high number of men fantasize about.

      It is my humble opinion that the author was very aware of the sexuality in this picture, and it is my humble opinion that the judges played their wink wink we are in the game moment. Personally, I am sick and tired of magazines, editors, galleries, media who can not conceptualize anything better than sexual objectification of women. Every damn magazine in our own industry can not sell photography equipment without showing breasts and cleavage. It’s so 19th Century.

      Now, I firmly believe a single picture should stand completely on its own. It should tell us the story and should also tell us the moral compass and gravitas of the author. It shouldn’t be showing us his semi-erect penis in coded language veiled with gauzy, vogue-like, filtery veneers . It shouldn’t be sexualizing a minor to prick sexual role fantasies and associate them with hunting endangered species. It shouldn’t be glamorizing the killing of animals for sport.

      Whether he was conscious or not that someone like me would read through the coded (albeit, traditional) language is not an excuse in our day and age. Read Derrida, read Barthes, Foucalt, Camille Paglia, and understand that the social sciences have new proposals for what it means to visually interpret human beings in the early 21st Century. If you are a visual thinker today, it is your moral responsibility to be exposed to the deconstruction of language and its signifiers, to the dialectics of Power & patriarchies, to structuralism, to the sexual objectification of women in media, to the male gaze, and to the awful dilemma of the extinction of species on earth. I doubt he did not know what he was doing. If that is the case, then it is time to catch up to the 21st century. Women should no longer be used as sexual property. And animals should not be hunted for sport and shown as glamour trophies.

      I am sure the author has some terrific and beautiful and thoughtful work. But as a visual thinker versed in contemporary social sciences, I can only opine on this picture because its coded language is antiquated, and now offensive. We have a saying here in Colombia, this is a case of one hand badly bungling what the other hand so tirelessly built. I think this picture fails because it conveys signifiers that are no longer relevant in a healthy society, and by choosing it as a winner, very poorly informed judges are perpetuating the glamorization of killing animals for sport, and the sexual objectification and exploitation of teenage girls.

      Justin. It is just one’s man “informed opinion.” No more. Not an attack. Not a denigration or belittling of the author. Just an opinion with sincere civility.

      Saludos from the Andes.