Wellcome Photography Prize 2020

The Wellcome Photography Prize tells provocative visual ​stories about the health challenges of our time​.

For 2020, our theme is Mental Health, which covers two of our five prize categories. 

At Wellcome, we believe a radical new approach is needed to transform the science of mental health. And with the prize this year we hope to transform public perceptions too. The shortlisted and winning photographs, soon to be announced, present refreshing, genuine insights into mental health and mental health problems, and avoid stereotypes and cliché.

How to enter

Images entered into the Wellcome Photography Prize 2020 are shortlisted and the winners are then chosen by a panel of high-profile judges.

Image makers retain full copyright over their own work, and grant permission to use their images for three years in the context of the prize – in exhibitions, promotions, publications and media coverage, including social media.

For winning and shortlisted images only, image makers grant permission to use these images in the context of the prize and to support Wellcome’s broader charitable work. This is so that we can continue discussions about the health issues and stories to which the images relate.

More details about how to enter

Prizes and publicity

The winner of each category will receive £1,250, with the overall winner receiving a prize of £15,000.


Entrants submitted into any of five categories, using any form of photography including documentary, reportage, portrait, landscape, fine art photography or collage.

  • Social Perspectives (single image): explore how good and bad health affect society.
  • Hidden Worlds (single image): expose hidden details, combat health taboos or reveal places difficult to access.
  • Medicine in Focus (single image): show healthcare, medicine or surgery up close and personal.
  • Mental Health (single image): dispel the visual clichés of mental illness, fight stigmas and explore an individual's experience or recovery.
  • Mental Health (series of up to five images): tell a story through related images that explores the spectrum of mental health to mental ill health.

Click on any image below to see it at full size.

Social Perspectives

The judges are looking for images that:

  • provide insights into the impact of health conditions, disease and disability
  • connect the planet’s health with our own
  • raise awareness of health issues that are little-known
  • look at how health systems impact society
  • explore the gap between personal experience and photography’s intent to represent this.

Hidden Worlds

The judges are looking for images that:

  • expose health topics that often go unreported or are unseen
  • start conversations about health taboos
  • connect people with emerging health topics
  • highlight tiny details that are hidden in plain sight
  • convey the emotional and physical responses to being diagnosed.

Medicine in Focus

The judges are looking for images that:

  • explore healthcare delivery, whether high-tech hospital treatment or improvised medicine in the field
  • show the personal impact of medical conditions and treatments
  • open up hard-to-access areas – on the ward, in theatre, in high-level containment units or in isolated parts of the world
  • highlight people that contribute to healthcare behind the scenes
  • explore medical technology used in social contexts.

Mental Health (2020 theme): single image

Mental Health (2020 theme): series

Visual clichés of mental health and mental health problems don’t help anyone. For the 2020 prize we sent out a call for photographs that take a more authentic, more human perspective, and present a richer, broader narrative of this aspect of life that affects one in four people worldwide. 

Entrants were asked to submit one image in the single image category or a series of up to five images in the series category. 

The winning and shortlisted images for this category will explore questions like: 

  • What does getting better look like?   
  • What causes someone to have trouble with their mental health?  
  • How are people finding their own ways to manage their health problems?  
  • How do different cultures contend with mental health problems?  
  • How are people finding and delivering treatments?   

    Wellcome photography commissions 2020

    Award-winning photographer Siân Davey has been commissioned for the Wellcome Photography Prize 2020, which explores the theme of mental health. Her forthcoming work will intimately explore the link between depression, anxiety and families living in poverty. 

    Following a 15-year career as a psychotherapist, Siân began her photographic practice in 2014, drawing on professional experiences to inform her work. Her community-centred photography is an investigation of her own psychological landscapes and of those around her.

    The COVID-19 Anxiety Project

    The Wellcome Photography Prize has commissioned five photographers from five different countries to each create a body of work that explores the mental health repercussions of isolation due to the current pandemic: The COVID-19 Anxiety Project.

    The global Covid-19 pandemic has ushered in an unprecedented age of isolation, with physical distancing measures and lockdowns in place all around the world. The physical health consequences of a pandemic are urgent and obvious, but the mental health repercussions are just as critical, if not so overt. We have commissioned these photographers to address these critical repercussions, and to answer the question: How are you, your family, and your friends coping with anxiety related to Covid-19? 

    Our commissioned photographers are:

    Contact us

    If you would like to know more about the prize

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    Credit for main image: Simon Norfolk/Wellcome Photography Prize 2019. All rights reserved. Credit and rights for other images are contained in the 'Info' section of each image.