Plus-size model portrait up for major photography gong

A portrait of a near-naked, plus-size model has been shortlisted for a major photography award.

Three photographers – all of them are women – are in the running for this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize.

Yolanda Y Liou, who wanted to capture “being comfortable in your own body” is shortlisted for her image of Enam Ewura Adjoa Asiama.

“The expectation of being skinny as standard is relentless in Asian culture,” the 30-year-old Taiwan-born photographer, who lives in London, said.

Enam Ewura Adjoa Asiama by Yolanda Y Liou (Yolanda Y Liou/PA)

“I’ve experienced the stress of this since a very young age. I was taken by Enam’s confidence and charisma.

“A key component of the photo was to demonstrate self-love and being comfortable with who you are in your own body.”

A second shortlisted photographer, Alys Tomlinson, 45, took black and white portraits of London school leavers dressed up for their cancelled end of year prom.

She photographed local teenagers in what they would have worn, but captured them in their gardens, backyards or local parks.

Jack from the series Lost Summer by Alys Tomlinson (Alys Tomlinson/PA)

“There is a vulnerability and sadness to the portraits, but also a resilience,” she said.

“The school year ended abruptly, with no opportunity to say goodbye to friends and nothing to mark the occasion of leaving school.

“I wanted to photograph each teenager framed by nature, merging their inner and outer worlds.

“There is a quietness to the images and they represent a loss and longing, but also celebrate each teenager as an individual, navigating this extraordinary time.”

Lydia Goldblatt, 42, is shortlisted for an image of her three year old-daughter in her garden during lockdown.

Eden by Lydia Goldblatt (Lydia Goldblatt/PA)

“In such close, sometimes blissful, sometimes painful proximity to my children, I am aware of all that remains unknown. We are fused and separate, elusive,” she said.

The international photography award is organised by the National Portrait Gallery, which is closed until 2023 for redevelopment.

Photographs will feature in an online exhibition on the National Portrait Gallery’s website, in a “virtual gallery space” that replicates the London gallery’s walls.

Gallery director Nicholas Cullinan said that the “entries demonstrate an extraordinary range of themes and styles in what has been an unprecedented and challenging year for portrait photography.

Alys Tomlinson for 'Samuel', 'Jack' and 'Jameela' from the series 'Lost Summer' #PhotoPrizepic.twitter.com/8Leh2miWpG

— Portrait Gallery (@NPGLondon) November 3, 2020

“I am delighted that through our online exhibition we will be able to share these outstanding portraits with audiences across the world, many of whom would not ordinarily have the opportunity to visit the exhibition in London,” he said.

The shortlisted works were chosen from 5,531 submissions entered by 2,169 photographers from 75 countries.

They were judged anonymously by a panel of judges including Edward Enninful, editor-in-chief of British Vogue.

The winner, who will receive £15,000, will be announced on November 24.

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