A 19-year-old man who is on the autistic spectrum lies on a bed playing with a piece of string

Erin Lefevre / Wellcome Photography Prize 2019

I Feel Relaxed When I Play with String

Wellcome Photography Prize 2019

The overall winner of the Wellcome Photography Prize 2019, and winner of the Social Perspectives category, is 'I Feel Relaxed When I Play with String'. The tender photograph, taken by Erin Lefevre of her brother Liam, provides a powerful insight into living with autism and explores what makes us human.

The other prize winners explore a hidden story about disability, sex and wellbeing, the role robots could play in helping to care for society’s ageing populations and how researchers are identifying zoonotic diseases before they become a pandemic threat.

We relaunched the Wellcome Photography Prize in 2018 with an open call for entries in four new categories – Social Perspectives, Hidden Worlds, Medicine in Focus and a thematic category for the 2019 prize, Outbreaks. We received more than 6,000 entries. 

The winning images in the Wellcome Photography Prize 2019 were chosen from 28 shortlisted images that powerfully capture the impact of disease outbreaks, advances in science and medicine, and personal stories of people living with illness.

Social Perspectives 

Images in this category had to explore how health and illness affect the way we live.

The winner is Erin Lefevre, a documentary photographer whose work focuses on social issues that impact the lives of New Yorkers. She is currently working on two long-term projects: 'Liam’s World' which focuses on her 19-year-old brother’s life as a person on the autism spectrum, and 'Hell’s Kitchen' a photo documentary on the neighbourhood she grew up in and how it is being transformed by gentrification. Her work appears in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, AARP, Associated Press, ProPublica and various non-profit organisations.

Browse all shortlisted entries in this category. 

Hidden Worlds 

Images in this category had to reveal details hidden to the naked eye.

The winner is Simone Cerio, an Italian reporter focused on documentary photography and multimedia languages. Known for his intimate and delicate approach, he investigates social identity and marginalisation of social groups. He works constantly with NGOs including the Italian organisation, Emergency. He has won numerous prizes including the Non Profit Award at the Festival of Ethical Photography and the Perugia Social Photo Fest. He collaborates with Italian and International magazines, teaches at MOOD Photography in Italy and has exhibited both in Italy and abroad.

Browse all shortlisted entries in this category. 

Medicine in Focus 

Images in this category had to show health and healthcare up close and personal.

The winner is Dmitry Kostyukov, a Russian visual artist and documentary photographer based in Paris. He holds a degree in journalism from Moscow State University, where he was a frequent lecturer from 2010 to 2015. He is currently participating in the newly established Photography and Society Master’s programme at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague. Dmitry has won several international awards and is a regular contributor to The New York Times.

Browse all shortlisted entries in this category. 

Outbreaks (2019 theme) 

Images in this category had to capture the impact of disease as it spreads.

The winner is David Chancellor, a multi award-winning documentary photographer whose work brings him across the world, from the tribal lands of Kenya to the sombre mountains of Scotland. His interests are mapping that jagged and bloody line where Man and Beast meet. He has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions, exhibited in major galleries and museums, and published worldwide. Recognised by World Press Photo, the Taylor Wessing National Portrait Prize and Pictures of the Year International, David published the monograph ‘Hunters’ in 2012. His work continues to examine mankind’s commodification of wildlife.

Browse all shortlisted entries in this category. 


The winner of each category received £1,250 and the overall winner, Erin Lefevre, received £15,000.

The prizes were presented at an awards ceremony in London on 3 July 2019.

The Wellcome Photography Prize is thrilled to award the Julie Dorrington Award to Dmitry Kostyukov, the 2019 category winner for Medicine in Focus, for his photographic work on the relationship between robot care-givers and elderly patients. 

The Julie Dorrington Award, created in memory of former Wellcome staff member Julie Dorrington, honours both her individual contribution to Wellcome, and the service the clinical photography profession provides to medicine and medical education.

During her 12 years at Wellcome, Julie and her team tripled the number of clinical images held by Wellcome, and digitised all images to make them available online for use in teaching, medical education and research. This created one of the most comprehensive collections of clinical images in the world. 

The 2019 judging panel talk about this year's prize.

Wellcome Photography Commission 2019 

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