Press release

Wellcome Photography Prize 2021 shortlist announced

  • 90 shortlisted images from 15 countries
  • Categories are Managing Mental Health, Health in a Heating World and Fighting Infections
  • Winners to be announced via YouTube Live on 28 July
  • Shortlisted photographs available to view in online gallery.

Wellcome Photography Prize has today, Wednesday 23 June, announced its 2021 shortlist. Now in its third year, the 2021 prize covers three areas of interest which reflect Wellcome’s three worldwide health challenge areas – mental health, global heating and infectious disease.

The shortlist comprises 90 photos by 31 professional, amateur and student photographers, from across the world. Covering topics from the impact of Covid-19 on transgender women in Jakarta, to rising temperatures in the Arctic Ocean, to addiction and the process of recovery, the prize aims to tell provocative visual stories and challenge preconceptions of these urgent health issues of our time.

Within the Managing Mental Health categories, we are given insights into the lives of people with mental health issues from London to Iran to South Africa. The images show intimate displays of problems such as addiction, ADHD and depression, and the methods people use to improve their mental health. They also show communities and organisations coming together to help and support those in need. Such as the London-based bird watching club set up for people of colour to reconnect with nature and a father struggling with addiction cutting his son’s hair as an expression of parental care that can be hard to put into words.

The Fighting Infections categories showcase those fighting infection and disease across the world, and we gain perspectives on how the Covid-19 outbreak has affected different people and places. The photographs range from images of health workers wearing PPE, people going about their day-to-day activities, and the inside of hospitals, to the effect the pandemic has had on other pre-existing medical and societal issues such as cancer patients, elderly care, and those who have fallen between the cracks of healthcare systems. An image of a staged wedding in Iran reminds us of the strict social distancing measures which prevented such important celebrations during the pandemic, while another photograph of a tram conductor in India, clad head to toe in PPE, demonstrates the vulnerability of key workers.

The devastating effects of climate change are showcased in the Health in a Heating World categories. The photographs illustrate the significant healthcare problems which are arising from our ever-heating planet including: climate migration, wildfires, the increasing risk of skin cancer for those with albinism, the risk of climate change to coastal communities, and people’s endeavours to find drinking water.

Again for a third year the standard of entries to the Wellcome Photography Prize has been astonishing, this year’s shortlist truly represents human stories of fragility and resilience through recent times. Global heating, mental health and infectious disease are ambitious health topics that we just can’t solve alone. Only by championing the stories of those most affected do we have a chance of understanding the harmful effects and developing new ways of protecting people’s health.

Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome and Wellcome Photography Prize Chair

2021 shortlist 

An expert panel of judges from across photography, medicine and science selected the shortlist from more than 10,000 photographs submitted from 110 countries. 

Managing Mental Health (single image)

  • Thomas Duffield – Dad Cuts My Hair, UK
  • Jameisha Prescod – Untangling, UK
  • Kate Rosewell – Disconnected, UK 
  • Oded Wagenstein – Transparent Curtains: Living in the Closet at Old Age, Israel
  • Dulcie Wagstaff – Head in Hole, UK

Managing Mental Health (series)

  • Agnese Carlotta Morganti – Morpheus, Italy
  • Morteza Niknahad – The Big Fish, Iran
  • Nora Nord – ADHD Portraits, UK
  • Brent Stirton – Friendship Benches Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
  • Rebekah Williams – Birds Of A Feather Flock Together, UK

Health in a Heating World (single image)

  • Sharwar Apo – Tears of Drought, Bangladesh
  • Krisztián Bócsi – Eliminating Fossil Fuels in Germany, Germany
  • Zakir Hossain Chowdhury – Climate Cost, Bangladesh
  • Sujan Sarkar – Water Scarcity, India
  • Michael Snyder – The Family at the End of the World, Norway

Health in a Heating World (series)

  • Ayomitunde Adeleke – Sun, Not Salt, Nigeria
  • Lys Arango – Until the Corn Grows Back, Guatemala
  • Edoardo Delille and Giulia Permartiri – Diving Maldives, Maldives
  • Gideon Mendel and Jonathan Pierredon – Burnt Memory: Archaeology from a Climate Emergency, the objects are from the homes of people photographed in northern California and the photographs were taken in a studio in France
  • Hashem Shakeri – An Elegy for the Death of Hamun, Iran 

Fighting Infections (single image)

  • Richard Boll – Louise, March 2020, UK
  • Max Cavallari – The Hug Room, Italy
  • Sudipto Das – Fighting Pandemic, India
  • Hadi Dehghanpou – Corona Bride, Iran
  • Aly Song – The Time of Coronavirus, China

Fighting Infections (series)

  • Hugh Kinsella Cunningham – The Next Pandemic, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Gideon Mendel (assisted by Maria Quigley) – 2 Metres – Masked Portraits on Ridley Road, UK
  • Yoppy Pieter – TransWoman: Between Colour and Voice, Indonesia
  • Anastasia Taylor-Lind – Conflict and Covid-19 in Nagorno-Karabakh, Nagorno-Karabakh
  • Ingmar Björn Nolting – Measure and Middle, Germany 

Judges panel 

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

  • Dr Dixon Chibanda, Associate Professor at the University of Zimbabwe Clinical Research Centre, and Director of the African Mental Health Research Initiative
  • Johannah Churchill RGN, Photographer and Primary Care Nurse
  • Joycelyn Longdon, MRes and PhD at the University of Cambridge and Founder of ClimateInColour
  • Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Azu Nwagbogu, Founder and Director of African Artists' Foundation and Lagos Photo Festival
  • Dr Charles Ogilvie, Strategy Director of COP26 and multimedia artist
  • Brett Rogers OBE, Director of The Photographers' Gallery
  • Dr Kateřina Šrahůlková, Psychologist and Mental Health Specialist with Médecins sans Frontières.

Read more about the judges and judging criteria.

Winner announcement 

The 6 category winners plus 1 single image and 1 series winner will be announced during an online event commencing at 17:00 BST on Wednesday 28 July. The event will include contributions from the winning photographers.

Wellcome Photography Prize 2021 will award the following prizes:

  • Category winners: 1 photographer from each category (6 in total) will receive £1,000
  • Single image winner: 1 photographer will receive £10,000
  • Series winner: 1 photographer will receive £10,000.