The past two years have changed our lives in more ways than we could have imagined, and this is certainly reflected in the entires for the Portrait of Britain awards.
This 2021 shortlist features Brits like David, who worked as an acrobat before the pandemic hit. When performances were cancelled, he pivoted to paining and decorating. Photographer Joe Short is nominated for his striking shot of David’s two world’s colliding.
“Everybody has been fixing up their homes so I was able to find work painting and decorating homes, so the money has kept coming in, but I’ve desperately missed performing,” says David. “I’ve learned I’m resilient, I can always find purpose, so my mental health has been ok through this time.”
Another one of the shortlisted portraits shows an unnamed woman dressed to the nines in Dior outside Tesco. And why not? An outing to the supermarket did become the event of the week during lockdown, after all.
“I was shopping in Tesco when I noticed her walking by, through the glass at the checkout. I was in awe,” says photographer Brock Stanley, who snapped the image.
“I ran out the shop and asked for a photo, she was completely prepared and ready to be photographed, as you would be in an outfit like that! I love how much effort went in to every little detail of her look, and the way she peers just above the line of the camera like she’s done it 1000 times before. And maybe she has.”
The Portrait of Britain – run by the British Journal of Photography in partnership with JCDecaux – is designed to celebrate “the rich tapestry of people that make up Great Britain, by turning their stories into public art.”
The 200 shortlisted images also feature some famous faces, including footballer and campaigner Marcus Rashford waiting patiently in his garden between filming takes, and an outtake of Miriam Margoyles having a whale of a time in her kitchen during a shoot for Radio Times magazine.
The shortlisted images will be published in the Portrait of Britain book, vol. 4, published by Hoxton Mini Press and available to buy from February 3.
You’ll also spot the 100 winning images on digital screens in rail stations, shopping centres, high streets and bus stops nationwide throughout January.
Check out more of the shortlisted entries and the stories behind them below.