Party of the Week: Snapping the snappers

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The Independent Culture

Fresh from the choking press scrum sparked by Annie Leibovitz's starry presence at the National Portrait Gallery some weeks ago, the gallery's director, Sandy Nairne, emerged bright-eyed and unjaded from a cloud of party-goers at the reception party for the annual Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize.

What he loved about the competition, he said, was the sense of "capturing a moment forever". The bash had lured luminous faces, both in the images hanging on the walls as competition entries, including pictures of Antony Gormley, Iris Murdoch and Louise Bourgeois, and the celebrity guests who meandered around the gallery.

Scott Douglas, a Scottish photographer who had captured a thoughtful image of Bourgeois in her Parisian study, pulled out his iPhone to reveal an alternative portrait of the artist. Beside him, Tracey Emin pointed in preference to the image. "What makes a good portrait for me is not how good you look. I've had portraits of me that make me look fat, and some which show me as having bad skin. There are others which have been touched up," she said.

Jerry Hall expounded her own theories on the subject. "I don't like portraits that have been staged. I like an image with some poetry to it," she said.

The guests marvelled at the painterly quality of the winning image by Lottie Davies, who had created a Carravaggio-style portrait of a mother surrounded by quintuplets. The runner-up, Hendrik Kerstens, was also there to soak up the praise.