Wellcome Photography Prize 2021: winners announced

Our two winners for 2021 are ‘Untangling’, Jameisha Prescod’s picture of herself knitting to block out her depression during lockdown, and ‘Trans Woman: Between Colour and Voice’, Yoppy Pieter’s series chronicling how the Covid-19 pandemic has made life harder for trans women in Indonesia.

The two winning entries were chosen by a diverse panel of judges from more than 10,000 images submitted from all over the world. Entries spanned six categories: Managing Mental Health series and single image, Fighting Infections series and single image, and Health in a Heating World series and single image. 

The other category winners show volunteers disinfecting a theatre near the origin of the first Covid-19 outbreak, a man struggling to survive in the aftermath of a cyclone, a fantasy of depression as a sinister, ever-present fish, and a community whose fertile wetlands have turned to desert. 

Both winning entries moved all judges and initiated debate, we couldn’t not discuss them at length. Covid-19 and mental health are components in both, but what captivated us all was the powerful human stories at the very centre through a lens of compassion.

Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome and Chair of Judging Panel

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Managing Mental Health 

The photos in these categories share unique insights into what it’s like to live with depression, anxiety and other such problems. They also show us some of the ways that people, individually and with their communities, are managing their conditions and keeping their lives on course.

Browse the winning and shortlisted entries. 

Managing Mental Health (single image) 

The category winner is ‘Untangling’ by Jameisha Prescod, a film maker based in London, UK. “It’s really hard to talk about mental health and I guess it’s especially hard to turn a camera on yourself to expose some of the deepest and darkest (places), but I’m glad that even taking it, I guess, could touch on something that a lot of us have been going through in this pandemic.” 

Managing Mental Health (series) 

The category winner is ‘The Big Fish’ by Morteza Niknahad, an Iranian visual artist. “In this project I talked about my mother and a family secret. It was a difficult decision, but I am happy because with the project I helped my mother.” 

The Big Fish

Friendship Bench Zimbabwe

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Morpheus

ADHD Portraits

Fighting Infections 

The photos in these categories naturally focus on Covid-19 and how it has affected people’s lives all over the world, bringing in issues that don’t always make the headlines. 

Browse the winning and shortlisted entries. 

Fighting Infections (single image) 

The category winner is ‘The Time of Coronavirus’ by Aly Song, a photographer for Reuters based in Shanghai, China. “I want to thank everyone who has fought against the pandemic and is saving lives. From professional staff to volunteers, the past year has been difficult. It is one of the most challenging times in the history of mankind. Let us continue to stand together.” 

Fighting Infections (series) 

The category winner is ‘Trans Woman: Between Colour and Voice’ by Yoppy Pieter, a visual storyteller and educator based in Jakarta, Indonesia. “Thank you to my beautiful subjects, I really really appreciate your bravery to show your stories to me and to the world.” 

Trans Woman: Between Colour and Voice

The Next Pandemic

2 Metres: Masked Portraits on Ridley Road

Measure and Middle

Conflict and Covid-19 in Nagorno-Karabakh 

Health in a Heating World 

The photos in these categories show how our rapidly changing climate brings a host of threats to human health, as well as what people do to keep their families healthy in newly dangerous environments. 

Browse the winning and shortlisted entries. 

Health in a Heating World (single image) 

The category winner is ‘Climate Cost’ by Zakir Hossain Chowdhury, a photojournalist based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. “With my photo I want to share a message of how people suffer from global warming, and that we should strengthen the global response to reduce climate change, and achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication.” 

Health in a Heating World (series) 

The category winner is ‘An Elegy for the Death of Hamun’ by Hashem Shakeri, an artist, photographer and film maker based in Tehran. "I hope that the attention of the media, ceremonies and awards to the issue of climate change and seeing and publishing photos in this regard will cause a practical change in order to improve the environment and climate change issues. This kind of support gives me, as a freelance photographer, the opportunity to continue my artistic activity and following the path that is my concern."

An Elegy for the Death of Hamun

Until the Corn Grows Back

Diving Maldives 

Sun, Not Salt

Burnt Memory: Archaeology from a Climate Emergency  

Meet the 2021 judges 

A high-profile panel of judges from the arts and global health communities selected the shortlist from over 10,000 images.

"With a diverse panel such as the Wellcome Photography Prize jury come polar opinions and experiences. Ultimately though we all came together from wide-ranging backgrounds to present a strong shortlist which reflects a visually provocative state of human health today."

Brett Rogers OBE, 2021 Judge

About the Wellcome Photography Prize 

The world faces huge health challenges, and we at Wellcome support science that can find ways to solve these. From Covid-19 to depression to climate-driven malnutrition, finding ways to protect your health is our purpose.  

But we also want to change the way people think about health around the world and to inspire new action. 

That’s why the Wellcome Photography Prize celebrates remarkable visual stories that bring these issues to life. 

Prizes 

  • The winners of each category received £1,000. 
  • Our overall single image and series winners each received £10,000. 
  • Prizes were presented at an awards ceremony on 28 July 2021. 

Entry conditions and judging criteria 

Read about the entry conditions and judging criteria, and the terms and conditions for the Wellcome Photography Prize 2021.

You can also read our frequently asked questions.

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Our partner 

The Wellcome Photography Prize 2021 is supported by Spectrum.

Previous winners and commissions