David Chancellor’s photo of 14-year-old Josie Slaughter on a horse carrying a dead buck beat 6,000 submissions to win Taylor Wessing prize
An arresting image of a teenage girl on horseback with her trophy of a hunted dead buck was last night named winner of a major photographic portrait prize.
The photographer David Chancellor was given this year’s Taylor Wessing photographic portrait prize at a ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery in London forhis submission, Huntress with Buck.
The image shows 14-year-old Josie Slaughter from Alabama on her first hunting trip to South Africa. Against a stunning background and sky, she looks impassively in to the camera, holding the dead animal’s antlers up to prevent it flopping lifelessly over the horse’s neck.
Chancellor said the location and light were key to the image’s power. “Josie had hunted her buck earlier in the day and was returning to camp,” he said. “As we arrived, the sun set below the cloud cover and I had almost unreal light for around a minute.
"The contrast between the peace and tranquillity of the location plus Josie’s ethereal beauty and the dead buck was what I wanted to explore. Here was a vulnerability and yet also a strength."
Chancellor, who wins £12,000, took the photograph – shooting Kodak 160VC 120 film on a Mamiya 7 II camera – as part of a bigger project documenting hunters and the hunted.
He said he wanted “to explore the intricate and complex relationship between man and animals and how both struggle to adapt to their changing environment.”
Chancellor, who divides his time between London and Cape Town, said he tried to remain objective about the subject matter: “The aim is always to be detached. In reality that’s rarely possible, but I do hope I can observe without an agenda and without the necessity to shout.”
Sandy Nairne, director of the National Portrait Gallery and chairman of the judges, called Chancellor’s image “a powerful and beautiful portrait, a worthy winner amidst a strong international submission”.