Portrait of rescued migrant wins £15,000 prize for photographer

A photograph of a migrant taken just moments after he was rescued from the Mediterranean Sea has won a National Portrait Gallery award in the UK.

Spanish freelance photographer and journalist Cesar Dezfuli was named winner of the £15,000 (€16,730) Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize for his shot of Amadou Sumaila, who was rescued 20 miles off the Libyan coast.

Dezfuli found his subject while documenting the search and rescue of migrants on board an NGO vessel on the central Mediterranean route.

Amadou Sumaila by Cesar Dezfuli (Cesar Dezfuli)
Since having his portrait taken, Sumaila has been moved to a temporary reception centre for migrants in Italy.

The winner of the £3,000 second prize is a photograph of a girl fleeing Islamic State, sometimes referred to as Isis, in the Iraqi city of Mosul shot by Abbie Trayler-Smith.

Her shortlisted shot of the young woman was taken as a convoy of buses arrived bringing people to the safety of the Hasan Sham camp in northern Iraq.

Trayler-Smith said: “I just remember seeing her face looking out at the camp, and the shock and the bewilderment in her’s and other’s faces and it made me shudder to imagine what living under Isis had been like.

“To me the uncertainty in her face echoes the faces of people having to flee their homes around the world and references a global feeling of insecurity.”

The £2,000 third prize and winner of the £5,000 John Kobal New Work Award goes to Finnish artist Maija Tammi, who photographed Erica, an android, as part of her One Of Them Is A Human #1 series.

The project presents androids alongside one human and asks questions about what it means to be alive.

The John Kobal New Work Award is given to a photographer under 35 whose work has been selected for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition.

The international competition, which has been running since 1993, attracted 5,717 entries by 2,423 photographers from 66 countries.

The winning portraits will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery from November 16 to February 8 2018.

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