Award-Winning Pembrokian Photographer Featured in the National Portrait Gallery


Frederic Aranda (Japanese Studies, 1999) has enjoyed a dynamic and successful career in photography since graduating from Pembroke in 2003. His dedication to the art will be recognised later this month when two of his portraits will hang in the National Portrait Gallery after achieving finalist status in the Taylor Wessing photography competition. This achievement comes after Frederic entered the competition 18 times unsuccessfully and is testament to his commitment and talent.

The two portraits showcase Frederic’s photographic creativity and skill. His portrait of Marcus Rashford, commissioned by Burberry, sets the footballer in his primary school playground where he first started to play football. Under the title ‘This used to be my playground’, Rashford is pictured leaning against a set of goalposts. One of Frederic’s hallmarks as a photographer is his focus on the person rather than the product, where a playground offers a deeper insight into the subject than a flawless, posed studio setting.

The second portrait, ‘The House of Gorgeous Gucci’, highlights the little-known history of ball culture in America. ‘Houses’ of friends from primarily LGBTQ+, Black and Latinx backgrounds form communities outside their families of origin, from which they are often estranged. A cast of dancers are pictured with poses taken from the ‘Voguing’ dance form which first swept the New York ballrooms in the 70s. Frederic is particularly thrilled by the portrait’s appearance in the National Portrait Gallery, and is excited to bring together a traditional British establishment with a marginalised group often overlooked by mainstream institutions.

Frederic arrived at Pembroke College to study Japanese and practised photography during his spare time. He flourished in the college’s photographic dark room, developing photos of his friends and tutors to hone his artistic and technical skills. Without access to such a facility, he is certain he would never have chosen photography as a profession.

We asked Frederic for his advice to current Pembroke students:

‘When I was at Pembroke, I was lucky because there were so many phenomenal people, and because it’s a smaller college, you get to know each other well. You get friends for life at Pembroke, it was and still is a great support network – and my tutor at the time, Dr James McMullen, made me love Japan and my degree even more. If I were to give advice to current students, it would be to follow your instincts. I studied Japanese out of instinct and loved it. Don’t subscribe to a strategic five-year plan – if you enjoy what you do, you will do it well.’

Frederic has most recently received the Portrait of Britain 2021 award, as well as the Portrait of Humanity 2022 award.

The successful portraits from the Taylor Wessing competition will be displayed in the National portrait Gallery from 27th October to the 18th December.

Book to visit here. 

The House of Gorgeous Gucci Portrait of Marcus Rashford
'This used to be my playground'


The House of Gorgeous Gucci Portrait
'The House of Gorgeous Gucci'