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Erin Lefevre’s empowering study of autism wins Wellcome Photography Prize

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Erin Lefevre: I Feel Relaxed When I Play with String (Via Wellcome Photography Prize)

American photographer Erin Lefevre has picked up the top spot at this year’s Wellcome Photography prize for I Feel Relaxed When I Play with String, an image taken from a series that documents the life of her autistic brother.

The series, Liam’s World, began in 2014 when the New York-based photographer decided to try and better understand how her brother experiences the world. The result is a collaborative project which sees Liam writing his thoughts on the photos Erin takes.

“Amplifying the voices and experiences of people on the autism spectrum is so important,” Erin commented, following her win. “My objective is to help uplift my brother and empower people on the autism spectrum and people with disabilities to speak for themselves.”

Shortlisted entries for the prize — a celebration of work that captures stories of health, medicine and science, overseen by the Wellcome Trust — were split into a quartet of categories: Hidden Worlds, Medicine in Focus, Outbreaks, and Social Focus.

Lefevre won the latter category and the overall prize, scooping up a rather healthy £15,000 in the process.

This year’s other winners are Simone Cerio (Hidden Worlds), Dmitry Kostyukov (Medicine in Focus), David Chancellor (Outbreaks). They all left the ceremony, hosted at Central Saint Martins last night, £1,250 richer.

Their subjects include robot care-givers, baboon screenings in Kenya, and an image of Italy’s first sexual therapist trained to work with the disabled.

Billed as a competition which “rewards pictures that show the importance of health in society, and the impact health issues have on people and communities worldwide,” the prize was first established back in 1997 as the Biomedical Image Awards before being renamed the Wellcome Image Awards in 2006, eventually morphing into the Wellcome Photography Prize in 2018.

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Dmitry Kostyukov: Zora, the Robot Caregiver (Via Wellcome Photography Prize)

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David Chancellor: Virus Hunters (Via Wellcome Photography Prize)

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Simone Ceiro: Love Givers (Via Wellcome Photography Prize)