Commercial photographers vie for artistic prize

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The Independent Online

They all earn a living in the hard-nosed world of commercial photography, whether shooting advertisements or carrying out editorial assignments for magazines. But they are now bidding for artistic recognition, too, in the final of the £12,000 Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Four photographers have been shortlisted from more than 2,000 who submitted 5,065 prints in the fourth year of the NPG's international award.

The contenders are Anna Bauer, 40, a German-born photographer now living in the United States, Richard Boll, 29, who was born in Kenya and raised on the Isle of Wight, Kyoko Hamada, 33, who has lived in the US since leaving Japan aged 15, and Kiran Master, 46, who was brought up in Pinner, north-west London.

Their work will be shown in a special exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery alongside another 50 of the submitted portraits. Sandy Nairne, director of the gallery, said: "This is an exciting shortlist, demonstrating once again the vitality of photographic portraiture."

Anna Bauer, a magazine photographer and photographer's assistant, took pictures of her half-siblings in her native Germany for a series entitled Them, Growing. A portrait of her 12-year-old half-brother Henry and his friends, Jings, Living Room, has been shortlisted. "I photograph my half-brothers simply because I'm interested in experiencing their way of seeing and doing. Since I don't live with them, I view them almost like a visitor," she said.

Richard Boll specialises in still-life and architectural photography for clients but his submission features informal portraits of passers-by, one of which is entitled Joe, in his hometown of Brighton. "Joe immediately interested me. It was a quick encounter, three or four minutes, most of which was spent persuading him to pose. Joe insisted he wasn't photogenic. I disagreed," Boll said.

Kyoko Hamada, who has worked for The New York Times and The Washington Post, is influenced by British Pop Art, particularly David Hockney. "His use of space seems so simple on the surface, but it is actually rather organised. There's quirkiness and a sense of humour in his art too," she said.

She came across her subjects, Emily and her Grandmother, as the pair were rehearsing a song for a family celebration on the shores of Lake Placid in New York.

Kiran Master, a commercial photographer who has won two Golden Lions at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes, chose the actress and model Michelle Connolly for his Untitled entry. "The portrait isn't about Michelle, she's just one element in the image. The photograph is more an expression of my conscious or subconscious preoccupations," he said. The winner, chosen by a panel including Sandy Nairne and Grace Lau, will be announced on 6 November. The exhibition runs from 8 November to 18 February.

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