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Hashem Shakeri / Wellcome Photography Prize 2020

In 2021, Wellcome will award £26,000 to photographers telling provocative visual stories about the health challenges of our time as part of its world-renowned Wellcome Photography Prize, culminating in an annual exhibition in London, a prestigious awards ceremony, and international press coverage. 

As one of the world’s leading research-based charities, Wellcome is at the forefront of improving health around the globe, and this year, the photography Prize will center on three of the most important issues of our time: Managing Mental Health, Fighting Infections, and Health in a Heating World. 

Each topic is divided into two categories: one for series and one for single images. It’s free to submit, and each of the six category nominees will receive £1,000, with £10,000 going to a series and single image winner.

David Chancellor / Wellcome Photography Prize 2019

“I believe that the Wellcome Prize is incredibly important, possibly one of the most important awards in our industry today,” says David Chancellor, the documentary photographer who won the Outbreaks category in 2019. “Photography is a tool for seeing science, health, and social issues. 

“It allows us to visualise real issues, influencing all of our lives; no matter age, demographic, or gender, shedding light on health-related subject matter that might otherwise remain unseen. These particular awards allow us to bring these stories, that work, to the very forefront of public and professional awareness.” 

© Isabel Permuy / 2020

In the past, winning projects and images have focused on topics as far-reaching as depression, pediatric cancer, maternal healthcare, zoonotic disease research, and more. In 2021, as we navigate several public health crises, the Prize takes on an additional layer of meaning and significance. 

This year’s jury will look for photographs that raise awareness about mental health, bring us to the frontlines of the fight against infectious disease, and highlight communities most affected by climate change. They’re also seeking images that shed light on underrepresented communities, challenge stigma, and inspire people to work cooperatively and internationally to discover innovative solutions to the more pressing challenges of this decade. 

These issues are global, but they do not affect everyone equally. The Wellcome Photography Prize seeks to amplify stories that have been overlooked and underrepresented; for years, it’s brought together voices and communities across the world. In 2020, the Prize drew thousands of entries from professional, student, and amateur photographers across 127 countries. Diversity, inclusion, and equality has always been at the heart of the award. 

“We can’t solve complex topics alone, so we’re continuing to listen through our open call,” Jeremy Farrar, the Director of Wellcome, says. “Our aim, through images of human stories, is to show what an incredible impact international cooperation and local action can have on these challenges and the lives of millions of people.” 

Nils Stelte / Wellcome Photography Prize 2020

Feature Shoot has always believed in the power of photography to inspire action, and in many ways, the Wellcome Photography Prize embodies its far-reaching potential. “It was Eve Arnold who said, ‘If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument. If you are careful with people, they will offer you part of themselves,’” Chancellor reminds us. 

“When looking at the work brought together within these particular awards, one can see how true, and how vital, her words are today in the complex environment that we as documentary photographers, and visual artists, must navigate through, in order to access these stories.”

Feature Shoot Media has teamed up with the Wellcome Photography Prize to share this opportunity with our readers. Submissions are open now through January 18th, 2021, and entry is free.

We’ll continue to share updates throughout the open call. We encourage you to join in this critical moment in medical research and submit your work for consideration today. 

Enter the Wellcome Photography Prize for free here.

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