Photography students at the National Portrait Gallery
Photography students from the University of Plymouth have had their work selected for a special exhibition by the National Portrait Gallery.
Called Photo Portrait Now, the exhibition is a culmination of a year-long high-education partnership programme bringing together Gallery curators, leading contemporary photographers and second-year photography students from five universities across England and Wales.
The showcase – running until 8 September 2024 – is designed to foster new creative talent, and students were invited to submit entries for consideration following a visit to London in December.
Jenna Kain, Madelyn Latimer-Hicks, Max Pattenden and Jordan Tucker saw their work selected after a curated process, and they travelled up to London for the opening.
Max Pattenden and his portrait at the National Portrait Gallery
Max Pattenden with his portrait of classmate, Jenna, which was the lead picture advertising the exhibition 

Having my work displayed in the National Portrait Gallery was a massively inspiring experience, and my image being chosen as the front was really exciting.

The style of my portraiture for this project was influenced by a sense of melancholy and discomfort, and the bleak, monochrome images reflect this – I found myself utilising wide and open backdrops for the portraits I created to evoke a feeling of being lost or confused.
I can’t thank the NPG Staff enough for the opportunity, alongside my lecturers at the University for arranging the collaboration and the connections I have made throughout the Photo Portrait Now project.

For aspiring photography students: make yourself uncomfortable more often. I have lately been trying to push the boundaries as to what I believe I am capable of with my work and regardless of the outcome, I have been learning more about myself and who I am as an artist.

I really do believe that the only way to succeed is to be obsessive over ideas that you have, and to never let ideas sit on paper.
BA Photography student, Max Pattenden
Jordan Tucker and her picture at the National Portrait Gallery
Jordan Tucker and her picture at the National Portrait Gallery 

Having my work exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery is an incredible opportunity, I feel seen, I feel heard. I've got my story out into the world which has been the most challenging thing I have done through photography.

My family is the topic of the piece and ultimately, they are my inspiration. I hope that I can inspire others to talk about their family struggles, as talking is always the hardest but most crucial step in healing.
BA Photography student, Jordan Tucker
Challenging concepts of place, community, relationships and belonging, the Gallery chose portraits to showcase a wealth of new stories that delve into life in Britain today. The photographers were also encouraged to take inspiration from pieces exhibited in this year’s Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize, the Gallery’s annual photography competition that showcases the very best of contemporary portrait photography globally.
Photo Portrait Now features 92 portraits altogether and is funded by The National Heritage Lottery Fund and Art Fund.

The University has historically had a strong relationship with the National Portrait Gallery, so to have this opportunity shared with them is just brilliant. Our second-years really engaged with the process when they were given the brief, and we’re very proud of them all – the team from the Gallery was so impressed by the standard of all the students who entered.

The four eventually selected have had an amazing opportunity to meet photographers in the Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize, as well as other industry experts. This is only the beginning and I look forward to seeing what they create in their third year and future careers. 

Angus FraserAngus Fraser
Programme lead for BA Photography at the University of Plymouth

It’s been a pleasure to work so closely with staff and students from the University of Plymouth as part of Photo Portrait Now, and I’ve been incredibly impressed by the professionalism shown by all of the participating students over the year.

Inspiring the next generation of world-class photographers, Photo Portrait Now has provided opportunities for talented groups of young people to exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, network and connect with industry leaders, supporting their pursuit of creative careers.
Clare Freestone, Curator of Photography at the National Portrait Gallery 
BA (Hons) Photography facilities