Portrait of Britain winners: Diversity of British life in photos

British Journal of Photography has announced 99 winning images for 2023, which form a powerful contemporary portrait of life in the country

Charlotte Hodges
Friday 13 January 2023 12:52 GMT
The winners will be featured in the UK’s largest exhibition
The winners will be featured in the UK’s largest exhibition (Angela Christofilou/Peter Flude/John Boaz/Andreas Bleckmann/Joe Short/Caitlin Chescoe)

Portrait of Britain returns with 99 winning images, designed to illustrate the diversity of modern life. From a north London cowboy to familiar faces such as Sir David Attenborough, the photographs act as vignettes of Britain, taking viewers on a ride across generations, geographies and genders.

The award invites us to reflect on the multiplicity of voices and stories across the country, with the portraits being shown in a month-long digital exhibition. A book will also be published by Hoxton Mini Press, featuring the 200 shortlisted images, and the winners will also feature on JCDecaux’s digital screens across highs treets, in shopping centres and train stations.

Many of the photographs shine a light on minority and migrant groups in the UK, from Welsh travelling communities to dancers at a West Indian carnival in Leeds. As well as capturing the mood of the country via protests in response to the war in Ukraine, cost of living and climate crises.

As the nation’s biggest photography exhibition, it celebrates the rich tapestry of people that make up Great Britain, by turning their stories into public art. With the nation currently at such a crucial point in its history, Portrait of Britain is more relevant than ever.

Check out a selection of the winners below, including The Independent’s contributor Angela Christofilou.

Kenneatha & Keziah (By Caitlin Chescoe)

I have lived in Newham for a number of years and wanted to document the community in my local area and how people use the Wanstead Flats throughout the seasons. I met Kenneatha and Keziah at the fair this summer. I saw them in their matching pink tracksuits and asked if I could make a portrait with them. Kenneatha grew up in Manor Park, attending the same fair year after year. She told me that Keziah had asked if they could both dress in matching outfits that day and spend some mother and daughter time together. London.

Sir David Attenborough (By Michael Leckie)

This was taken for The Times just a few months prior to the pandemic breaking out. Sir David was so gracious and didn’t care for any special attention. When he spoke and I heard this famous voice in real life, I just stopped thinking about the shoot and listened. Kew, London.

Maryam Wahid (By John Boaz)

“As a daughter of first generational Pakistani parents, I like to think of the mother as the queen of my family. She came from nothing and built life from scratch in Britain, not for herself but for her children. She dreamt for me, not for herself, when she left her family and home in Lahore and arrived in Birmingham.” – Maryam 26, Birmingham.

Zandra Zhodes, Queen of Fashion, at the Gainsborough Silk Mill (By Alun Callender)

Zandra Zhodes, photographed on her visit to the Silk Mill, where she had collaborated on a recent collection. Sudbury, Suffolk.

Tommy Jessop (By Peter Flude)

Portrait of actor and campaigner Tommy Jessop at the Theatre Royal Winchester in November 2021, on the same day he spoke at the House of Commons in support of the Down Syndrome Act 2022, which aims to recognise people with Down’s Syndrome as a specific minority group and better meet their needs. The bill was passed and became law in April 2022. Winchester, Hampshire.

Coffee mornings (Angela Christofilou)

My Grandma and her two friends take a coffee break during a game of Church Bingo in Heywood, Lancashire. To see more of Angela’s work, click here.

Love (By Dave Shrimpton)

A simple study of 2022 love captured through an 1894 lens! Wet plate collodion glass ambrotype. Cambridge Studio, UK.

Last call (By Nabeel Siddiqui)

A patient I looked after on Covid ICU for seven weeks. He has finally woken up from an induced coma and speaks with his wife for the first time since his admission. Sadly, this was the last call. He passed away a few days later. Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne. Nabeel recently shared his ICU experience with The Independent at the height of the pandemic, click here to read more.

Viktoriia (By Joe Short)

Viktoriia was 18 when came to live with us from Ukraine after the Russian invasion. Her family are all serving in the military back at home. She has been such a wonderful addition to our home life. I think we have learnt far more from her than she has from us. A strong and positive influence on our 10-year-old daughter too. Bath.

Unsung (By Olufemi Olaiya)

I created this photography series to remember the sacrifice made in the First and Second World wars by our gallant African soldiers in the British African Colonial units. Regardless of their culture, belief and religion, these people fought as one alongside other troops and volunteers to protect the British empire and its interests. Most importantly, they fought for their motherland. But despite all of this – they are rarely spoken of. Buster Hill, Petersfield.

i, untitled. (Paris Tankard)

‘i, untitled.’ is a self-portrait that explores the relationship between my identity as a Queer person and as a Black British person, where both identities may be at odds they have both come together to make who I am. The face seen is indistinguishable from mine and allows people to place themselves into me, whether they be Black or LGBTQ. It also allows people to face their own prejudices by coming face to face with something/someone they may not be used to encountering. Cardiff, Wales.

Stevie (By Andreas Bleckmann)

Stevie in Hastings.

Rebecca Hayes x Victoria Park Vixens FC (By James Cannon)

The Victoria Park Vixens team epitomise what it is to be part of the grassroots football scene in London. They’re fun, friendly and passionate about playing football. I got to know the squad between lockdowns and spent a few months following them from late 2020 into early 2021. It was a time when we appreciated just how much sport plays a vital role in our everyday lives, for our physical health and wellbeing to the socials with friends, having a laugh and connecting. Photographed at first light on a cold, crisp morning, Rebecca has an elegant coolness to her. She’s strong, calm yet kick-ass! Hackney Marshes, London.

South West Manchester Cricket Club (By Vivek Vadoliya)

Originally commissioned by The Face magazine, the series explores racism within British Cricket through the experiences of young players who attend South West Manchester Cricket Club. Manchester.

East London firebreaker (By Anita McCullough)

In the hot July of 2022, when a fast-moving wildfire broke out near Davies Lane school, locals ran out to try to stop it spreading. This man had but a spade and gloves; another had grabbed a large bottle of Evian from home. To the man’s left, people were frantically hosing their fences to try to stop them from catching alight. Wanstead Flats, Leytonstone, London.

See the other winners and ‘British Journal of Photography’ award-winning photojournalism via 1854.photography

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