Press release

Wellcome Photography Prize 2020 shortlist announced

  • 44 shortlisted images from 13 countries
  • Categories are Social Perspectives, Hidden Worlds, Medicine in Focus, and two categories highlighting the 2020 theme of Mental Health
  • Winners to be announced digitally on 19 August
  • Shortlisted photographs available to view in online gallery

Wellcome Photography Prize has today announced its 2020 shortlist. Chosen from five categories, including two dedicated to this year’s theme of mental health, the shortlist comprises 44 photos by 25 professional, amateur and student photographers, from Tanzania to the US. Returning for its second year, the prize tells provocative visual stories about the health challenges of our time, combatting health taboos, bringing complex health issues to life and showing how health affects society.  

With a special focus on mental health, an issue that has become even more urgent due to COVID-19, the prize aims to transform preconceptions and address how people affected are represented through the camera’s lens. Featured in these categories, photography provides an insight into situations including mental health in Russia and amidst climate change in Nigeria; conditions such as depression, addiction and the impact of sexual abuse; and the methods people use to cope with their mental health.  

Amongst the remaining categories, we gain behind the scenes perspectives into healthcare. From the underappreciated work of the UK care system to maternity care in rural Uganda and Indonesia; to personal stories of gender identity in Brazil, Germany and the US; families and young people dealing with serious mental and physical health conditions; social taboos associated with Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and traditional practices including female genital mutilation in Nigeria and menstrual exile in Nepal. 

An expert panel of judges from across photography, medicine, media and science chose the shortlist from more than 7,500 photographs submitted from 127 countries. The five categories are: 

  • Social Perspectives – provide insight into the impact of health and disease on society
  • Hidden Worlds – reveal details hidden in plain sight, or combat health taboos
  • Medicine in Focus – explore healthcare delivery up close or from behind the scenes
  • Mental Health (single image) – dispel the visual clichés of mental illness
  • Mental Health (series of up to five images) – tell a story through related images across the spectrum of mental health.

See all the shortlisted images

Prof Miranda Wolpert, Head of Mental Health Priority Area at Wellcome, said: "In order to help the millions of people whose lives are affected by anxiety and depression it is vital that we find the next generation of treatments and approaches which work. It is clear from the stories and images throughout this years’ Wellcome Photography Prize that every individual experience of mental ill-health is personal. Our job is to find the key mechanisms which can help as many people so that no one is held back by mental health problems. If you are inspired, or moved, by these images please share them with others and join us on our journey to find the next generation of treatments and approaches."

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome and Wellcome Photography Prize Chair, said: "The photographs moved all six judges in different ways, both through technical expertise but crucially in the humanity that comes through. It’s about the narrative, it brings courage to all of us to share our experiences."

Wellcome Photography Prize 2020 shortlist

Social Perspectives

  • Gianluca Urdiroz Agati – Adrian & Luca
  • Julia Cybularz – Breaking the Girl
  • Marijn Fidder – Cards
  • Ed Kashi – Alzheimer's, USA, 2014
  • Elisabetta Zavoli – The Landfill Midwife

Hidden Worlds

  • Jenevieve Aken – Monankim
  • Poulomi Basu – Blood Speaks
  • Giacomo Infantino – Before Waking Up
  • J Houston – Body Index
  • Patricia Morosan – You, The Living

Medicine in Focus

  • Pierre Bureau – Care Worker in London
  • Maite Caramés – After Surgery
  • Marco Gualazzini – Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Julia Gunther and Sophia Mohammed, Light for the World – Hadia
  • Sameer Satchu – Tomorrow’s Echo

Mental Health (single image)

  • Camila Falcão – Téo
  • Tom Merilion – Nina, 3 Degrees
  • Benji Reid – Holding on to Daddy
  • Lorena Ros – Unspoken
  • Jeffrey Stockbridge – Amber Lynn Nichols, 24 Years Old, 3 Months off Heroin

Mental Health (image series)

  • Sebastian Mar – Mental Health Kit
  • Arseniy Neskhodimov – Prozac
  • Nyancho NwaNri – Going Under
  • Therese Alice Sanne – Black Sun
  • Mirja Maria Thiel – Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man

Judges panel

The shortlist was selected by Chair of Judges Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, and a panel of six judges:

  • Siân Davey, photographer
  • MaryAnne Golon, Washington Post
  • Dr Aiysha Malik, World Health Organization
  • John Moe, 'The Hilarious World of Depressionpodcast
  • Dr David Nott, David Nott Foundation
  • Azu Nwagbogu, African Artists’ Foundation and Lagos Photo Festival.

Read more about the judges and judging criteria.

About the prize

Wellcome believes a radical new approach is needed to transform the science of mental health. The prize hopes to challenge preconceptions and stereotypes, and provide a more authentic look at peoples’ experiences of mental health. 

Wellcome Photography Prize is run by Wellcome, an independent charitable foundation supporting research to improve health. Wellcome is one of the world’s biggest funders of mental health research and recently committed an additional £200m to develop a new generation of approaches and treatments for anxiety and depression.

Winner announcement

The winner of individual categories and the overall winner will be announced during an online event commencing at 5pm BST on Wednesday 19 August 2020. The event will be hosted by Dame Cilla Snowball, with contributions from winning photographers during the event. 

The overall winner will receive a £15,000 prize, with the winner of each category receiving £1,250.