David Cantor TWPPP success

17 December 2016

Region: Headquarters

© David Cantor, Abdel. Society member David Cantor LRPS has had a portrait accepted in to the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2016 exhibition. David's image, Abdel,  is being used to promote the exhibition which is on at the National Portrait Gallery, London, until 26 February 2017. 

We took the opportunity to ask David about how the image came about, his Society membership and current and future projects. Read his answers below. 

Where was your photo taken?

The image was taken in May of this year. I'm doing a tattoo parlour project and had just dropped off a print to one of my subjects and started looking for some footwear in a shop selling upmarket trainers on Shoreditch High Street, East London

Was it planned? 

No, it was a chance encounter with a fellow shopper. Many of my photographs come about as a result of approaching complete strangers. The young man was so stylish with his wide-brimmed red hat and great dress sense, he was a photographer’s dream. After a few head shots, I asked him to stand sideways. The profile was the last of six photos.

How much time did you have to take it?

The capture took place over just two minutes, the whole encounter lasted about five minutes

Who is this man?

His name is Abdel. He was born in West Africa, raised in Portugal and is now living in London.

What gear and settings did you use? 

My camera of choice is an Olympus OM-D EM-5. I used a 12-35 mm lens. Aperture f/2.8. ISO 800. Auto White Balance. Shutter speed 1/50th

How was this image lit? 

I used the ambient light in the shop and looked for an uncluttered background

How did you find you’re gear helped you in this situation?

The 5 axis stabilisation on Olympus cameras is brilliant, enabling a shot like this to be taken hand held and the sensor renders skin tones very accurately.

© David CantorWhy did you decide to enter this into the Taylor Wessing competition?

I feel that this image is probably one of the best that I have taken, it is very special to me. I like the simplicity of the composition, the subject’s dignity and his far away gaze. I was encouraged by family and a few friends to ‘have a go’. So I did!

David spoke to Brick Lane Life and your can read more here: http://bricklanelife.weebly.com/background.html


1. How has being a member of the RPS helped your photography?

The distinction route definitely helped to improve my technical and presentational abilities.  Once one has raised the bar on that front, it's then possible to concentrate on self-expression rather than how to operate the equipment.  The support of other members has been invaluable and I am very grateful for the encouragement I received while considering entering the Taylor Wessing competition.  I am thinking particularly about people such as Monica Weller FRPS, Roni Barrett FRPS, Steve Kingswell ARPS and Sue Roche ARPS, all of whom have become firm and valued friends.

2. What are you working on at the moment?

I have an unfinished project covering tattoo parlours in the East End of London and have a cluster of shops where I have developed a good working rapport.  It’s challenging at times but very rewarding and I have met some extraordinary and generous-hearted people.  A tattoo is under consideration!

The current status of the project may be seen here: http://bricklanelife.weebly.com/tattoo-project.html

3. What directions do you see your photography moving in the future?

I love what I do now which is mainly Street Portraiture and this will continue to feature in my photography. That said, I see myself taking a more documentary approach and have a project in mind that will look at displacement and demographic changes.

Michael Pritchard

See more about the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize here: http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/twppp-2016/exhibition.php

Imges: © David Cantor