British photographer inspired by family at prayer wins place on portrait prize shortlist

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The Independent Online

Ric Bower, 38, who lives and works in west Wales and is the only British photographer to make the list, is joined by German, Australian and Swedish contenders - all now based in the UK - for the prize which is in its third year under the current sponsors.

His work, Three Generations (from Prayer), depicts his children, Sharon and Jasmin, his wife Amber, and mother-in-law Mary West. It is part of a series exploring how and why people pray and was taken during the spring harvest Christian festival at Butlins Minehead, in Somerset, earlier this year.

His place among four on the shortlist from 6,000 images submitted comes just after he graduated with a first-class degree in photography from Coleg Sir Gar (Carmarthenshire College).

The first of his rivals is Philipp Ebeling, 28, who was born in Germany. His work, Georgina, Royal College of Arts, London, was a commission to photograph winners at an award ceremony last year. "I had never met her before and haven't seen her after," he said.

Ebeling previously won the 2004 Observer Hodge Photographic Award for a series of photographs shot during a flurry of snow in Whitechapel market in east London.

Shara Henderson, 27, a photography graduate from Australia who now freelances in London, is shortlisted for Girl with Baby - Poland. The portrait of Agnieszka Stasiak and Dominika Jedrzejczyk was taken in the Polish town of Brzeg Dolny near Wroclaw in the summer of last year while Henderson was on a visit to her partner's relatives. She said capturing the "strength and beauty" in each was helped by the language barrier that existed between them.

The final contender is Magnus Reed, 40, a Swedish-born photographer now living in Sussex. Although his work has included reportage on the war in Afghanistan and a documentary on the beatnik generation, he found the subjects of his shortlisted work, Amy and Jack, near his home.

"I had found Jack [Field] and Amy [Ruse] on the streets of Brighton and asked if they would like to do a sitting," Mr Reed said.

The winner will be announced on 7 November and will go on display at the National Portrait Gallery two days later with the other prize contenders and 56 other works selected from the submissions.

A smaller prize of £5,000 sponsored by Deloitte will be presented to the best portrait taken by a photographer aged 25 or under.

The portrait prize exhibition will run to 12 February and then tour to the Lighthouse arts centre in Poole, Dorset.

The Shortlist

'Girl with Baby - Poland' by Shara Henderson

The portrait of Agnieszka Stasiak and Dominika Jedrzejczyk was taken in the Polish town of Brzeg Dolny near Wroclaw in the summer of last year while Henderson was on a visit to her partner's relatives.

'Amy and Jack' by Magnus Reed

Reed found the subjects of his shortlisted work, Amy and Jack, near his home. "I had found Jack [Field] and Amy [Ruse] on the streets of Brighton and asked if they would like to do a sitting," Mr Reed said.

'Three Generations (from Prayer)' by Ric Bower

Showing Bower's children, Sharon and Jasmin, his wife Amber, and mother-in-law Mary West. It is part of a series exploring how and why people pray

'Georgina, Royal College of Arts, London' by Philipp Ebeling

A commission to photograph winners at an award ceremony last year. "I had never met her before and haven't seen her after," he said.

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