The winners of the Portrait of Britain 2020 photography award have been revealed, carrying extra weight this year as a documentation of Britishness at this unique and pivotal time in history. The initiative is in its fifth year, launched by the British Journal of Photography to celebrate “the rich tapestry of people that make up Great Britain” and partnering with outdoor advertising provider JCDecaux to create the nation’s biggest photography exhibition. The 100 winning shots will be shown on digital screens around the UK for a month in September.
Together this year’s winners have captured the world-changing events of 2020 from the perspective of individuals, from frontline NHS workers to Black Lives Matter protestors. Brunal Johnson’s winning photograph of one particular protestor has also been chosen as the cover image for the exhibition’s accompanying book by Hoxton Mini Press, which features a further 100 shortlisted images.
“I hope my portrait can help audiences see that there is a beautiful and powerful moment in every situation,” Johnson comments on his image. “That Black Dreams Matter and inclusive representation can inspire future generations – which benefits everyone. To win is a great feeling… Hopefully, it inspires young photographers from a similar background to me to keep pushing forward.”
Other winning portraits depict isolation, representation, family, lockdown haircuts, sunbathing, and even a newfound national hero, in Andrew Testa’s photo of Captain Tom Moore.
Standout shots include Byron Hamzah’s image of nurse Rehan Mosafeer; Sam Gregg’s The Happy Couple depicting a man and his dog enjoying the view on Margate’s seafront; and Sophie Harris-Taylor’s photo of Chaneen Saliee with children Jasmine and Ocean, who feature as part of the photographer’s popular Milk series.
One particularly poignant image by Julia Fullerton-Batten shows her elderly subject, Ann, looking out of her window on lockdown day 74.
Slater King, whose striking photograph of a doctor on shift during the pandemic has also been chosen, comments on the exhibition: “Portrait of Britain 2020 is a chance for us to step back and understand where we are and who we are. So much of this year has been one of turmoil, anxiety and loss – but at the same time, there are so many of us working for others, making the world a better place, and living our lives from a place of generosity and courage. Portrait of Britain is like a vaccine against division and hate. It strengthens what we share.”
The winning images were chosen by a panel of judges including BJP’s editorial director Simon Bainbridge, British Vogue digital picture editor Parveen Narowalia, and Hoxton Mini Press co-founder Martin Usbourne.
The 100 portraits will be shown on digital advertising screens around the UK including those at major travel hubs and in bus shelters, city centres and shopping centres, from 1–30 September. The book Portrait of Britain, Vol. 3, is published 1 October and available for pre-order. See all 100 winners and 200 shortlisted portraits here.
GalleryPortrait of Britain 2020 winners
Byron Hamzah: Nurse Rehan Mosafeer (copyright the artist, 2020); Portrait of Britain 2020 winner
About the Author
Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.