The National Portrait Gallery has announced the four photographs that have been shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014, the Gallery’s major international photography competition.

A seven year-old Afghan skate girl, by Jessica Fulford-Dobson; identical twin boys kneeling next to their great grandmother’s hen in the Estonian countryside, by Birgit Püve; a group of young Kosovars, by Blerin Racaj; and the photographer’s baby son being introduced to a dog, by David Titlow, are this year’s prize-winning photographs.

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014 exhibition (13 November 2014 – 22 February 2015) will showcase the work of some of the most exciting contemporary photographers from around the world, including emerging talent, established professionals, photography students and gifted amateurs. Selected anonymously from an open competition, the diversity of styles reflects the international mix of entrants as well as the range of approaches to the portrait genre, encompassing editorial, advertising and fine art images. The judges have selected 60 portraits for the exhibition from 4,193 submissions entered by 1,793 photographers.

The following four photographers have been shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014:

Jessica Fulford-Dobson for Skate Girl

Jessica Fulford-Dobson (b. 1969) has worked as a freelance photographer since 2000. Her photographs have been widely exhibited throughout Europe and have been published in The Telegraph Magazine, Vogue and the Evening Standard. The shortlisted photograph Skate Girl is from the series The Skate Girls of Kabul, which documents young Afghan girls who attend the unique NGO Skateistan. Born out of a small skateboarding school that originated around an old, disused fountain in Kabul in 2007, Skateistan now provides education for children, teaching leadership and cultural awareness. She says of the photographs: ‘With the Skate Girls of Kabul portraits, I wanted to show these young Afghan girls with their skateboards within the liberating environment that Skateistan provides for them. It is here that for a few hours a week they are able to have some semblance of a childhood in a place that is detached from the war and their working life on the streets. Like so many other girls across the world, when given the chance to do something positive that they love, each starts to discover their own identity and strength, their own distinctive style and personality.’

Birgit Püve for Braian and Ryan

Birgit Püve (b. 1978) lives and works in Tallinn, Estonia. She has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions and has been commissioned by publications such as The Sunday Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Der Spiegel and Ryanair Magazine. Her photograph Braian and Ryan is from the series Double Matters. Püve was working on the series for a photography book on twins and triplets living in Estonia. Püve visited the nine-year-old twin boys at their great grandmother’s house in Saue, an area of idyllic countryside outside Tallinn, where she spent a few hours photographing them in different locations in the surrounding land.

Blerim Racaj for Indecisive Moment

Blerim Racaj (b. 1964) is a London-based freelance photographer. Racaj grew up in Kosovo and studied Economics before moving to London in 1995. Following the completion of a BTEC course in Photography at City of Westminster College in 2004, early photographs from Racaj’s ongoing project, entitled Kosovars, were published in the British Journal of Photography in 2006. Photographs from the project have since been exhibited in Italy, Kosovo, Croatia and the UK. His shortlisted photograph Indecisive Moment is from a recent and unpublished series about young Kosovars - a project triggered by the socio-political landscape in Kosovo and high level of unemployment amongst an increasingly young population. The photograph was taken at the base of the National Library, a place chosen by the sitters as an ‘escape zone’. Racaj says: ‘The photograph signifies that moment in time infused with uncertainty and vulnerability whilst knocking on the door of adulthood.’

David Titlow for Konrad Lars Hastings Titlow

David Titlow (b. 1963) is a London-based photographer working in fashion and advertising. He has exhibited widely and has been commissioned by numerous magazines and newspapers, including The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph, Vice and Vanity Fair. Originally a musician from Halesworth in Suffolk, Titlow switched to photography in the early nineties and has since worked in the industry. His portrait Konrad Lars Hastings Titlow was captured the morning after a large midsummer party in Rataryd, Sweden. It shows his baby son being introduced to a dog. He says: ‘everyone was a bit hazy from the previous day’s excess – my girlfriend passed our son to the subdued revellers on the sofa – the composition and back light was so perfect that I had to capture the moment’.

As well as the four prize winners, the exhibition will feature the John Kobal New Work Award. For the third consecutive year, this will be awarded to a photographer under the age of thirty whose work has been selected for the exhibition. The winning photographer will receive a cash prize of £4,000 to include undertaking a commission from the Gallery to photograph a sitter connected with the UK film industry.

The competition was judged from original prints by Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery (Chair); Robin Muir, Writer, Curator and Contributing Editor to Vogue; artist Bettina von Zwehl; Phillip Prodger, Head of Photographs Collection, National Portrait Gallery and Niri Shan, Partner and Business Group Director, Taylor Wessing LLP.

Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, says: ‘The 2014 submissions for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize showed huge amounts of creative talent and, with thousands of entries, the task of selecting the shortlist was daunting for the judges. I am very excited about the shortlisted photographs for this year’s competition.’

Niri Shan, Partner and Business Group Director, Taylor Wessing LLP, says: ‘I was delighted to be part of the judging panel this year and found the whole process enlightening, demanding, and, above all, inspirational. The quality of the work was very high and I particularly enjoyed the variety of the images on show. Photographers from around the globe had submitted their work, which evidences the international esteem in which the competition is held. I am very proud that Taylor Wessing is associated with such a worthy prize, and I hope that visitors to the exhibition are inspired by the final selection as much as I am. ‘

The prizes for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014 and the winner of the third John Kobal New Work Award will be announced at an awards ceremony on Tuesday 11 November 2014 at 7pm.