BJP: Open call for Portrait of Britain 17

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Portrait of Britain is a celebration of photography as much as the country’s people. We want to encourage self-expression, and to show the public the many approaches used by photographers to describe their worlds,” says BJP‘s editorial director Simon Bainbridge.

Portrait of Britain comes at a time of uncertainty and self-examination for the UK. But our exit from the EU provides an opportunity to reflect on our identity and think about our place in the wider world. Portrait of Britain provides a chance to quietly reflect on that through portraits, capturing the unique heritage and diversity of our people, free of a divisive rhetoric of politics.”

He’s discussing BJP‘s annual portrait competition, which is open to any photographer with a picture of a person shot in Britain. From the entries, 100 images will be selected for a  nationwide public exhibition, showcased on JC Decaux digital screens on the streets and in transport hubs the length and breadth of Britain in September 2017.

From casual snapshots and selfies to documentary projects and street photography, BJP takes an open-minded approach to how the UK and its inhabitants are pictured in Portrait of Britain. “We welcome entries that represent different styles and approaches, and which come from any tradition – be it fashion, documentary or formal portraiture,” says Bainbridge. “We will take a very wide interpretation of portraiture, so long as a person or group of people is prominent and important element in the picture.”

Rail, Clapham Junction, photograph by Nick Shand, 2016 © British Journal of Photography
Portrait by Nick Shand, as seen in Clapham Junction railway station, 2016 © British Journal of Photography
Liverpool, photograph by JackJohnstone, 2016 © British Journal of Photography
Portrait by Jack Johnstone, as seen in Liverpool, 2016 © British Journal of Photography

Portrait of Britain was launched for the first time last year, and the work exhibited was drawn from long-term personal projects, editorial commissions, selfies and family photos, plus much more. “We’d like to see a similar mix this year, from studio shots employing complex lighting skills to those happy accidents we encounter in the pictures that we all take in everyday life, when what we capture seems to exemplify – or challenge – our notion of someone,” says Bainbridge.

Professional and amateur photographers of any age and nationality, and using any camera, are welcome to enter, but the portraits must have been taken after 01 January 2011, and depict subjects living in the UK. Last year the images reached more than 20 million people, making Portrait of Britain a great opportunity to show work to the general public, not just the gallery-going world.

“Public art works best when it engages with people in surroundings they least expect,” says Bainbridge. “And by taking photographic portraiture into high streets and shopping malls and transport hubs across the UK, we have caught the public imagination.”

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St. Pancras, photograph by Phil Sharp, 2016 © British Journal of Photography
Portrait by Phil Sharp, as seen in St. Pancras railway station, 2016 © British Journal of Photography
Photograph by Dan Wilton, 2016 © British Journal of Photography
Portrait by Dan Wilton, as seen in a shopping centre, 2016 © British Journal of Photography