Association of Photographers 2020 Award winners unveiled

The winners of this year’s Association of Photographers (AOP) Awards have been announced, with striking images across several categories.

image copyrightLewis Khan

The AOP was formed in 1968 and promotes, protects and educates photographers of all levels.

Lewis Khan was named gold winner of the Open Award for his series of images entitled Theatre, photographed at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London.

With prolonged and unprecedented access to frontline NHS workers, Khan worked intimately amongst high-level clinical situations and procedures.

A portrait of a patient being treated in hospitalimage copyrightLewis Khan

He also focused on the lesser-seen aspects of the hospital: cleaners, visitors, staff rooms and bed bays.

“From surgeons, scrub nurses and matrons to some of Europe’s leading oncology consultants and their patients, Theatre is a study of the people that make up the hospital, and the fabric of their environment,” said Khan.

“As the NHS continues to be a topic at the heart of British political debate, it is a timely celebration of the institution and the people relied on by the British population every single day.”

An image of a handprint on glassimage copyrightLewis Khan

Kristina Varaksina was named Open Award silver winner for her image of Yana (below).

A young woman without hair holds a bald catimage copyrightKristina Varaksina

“I hope this work inspired people with all kinds of skin, hair and body conditions to be more confident, as well as it inspires all of us to see everyone’s unique beauty,” said Varaksina.

Here is a selection of other winning images from this year’s awards, with descriptions by the photographers.

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Emerging Talent, Gold winner: Citizens of Nowhere, by Zula Rabikowska

A portrait of a woman with light and shadows cast on her faceimage copyrightZuzanna Rabikowska

I shot portraits of myself, my sister and my mother in our family home in East London.

I wanted to imprint the journey of migration into the physicality of the image, [so] soaked my film rolls in English Channel salt water to mark the geographical identity of the British Isles.

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Emerging Talent, Silver winner: Nomads, by Joshua J Sneade

A mother and two children pose for a portrait in a shelterimage copyrightJoshua J Sneade

In tents and caves amongst the rocky landscape of the Moroccan High Atlas, there lives a relatively small population of nomads.

Their traditional way of life revolves around herding animals to provide food and to sell in nearby towns.

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Environment, Gold winner: Forest Bathing with Timothy Leary, by Simon Puschmann

A view of a forest with light shining between treesimage copyrightSimon Puschmann

[This is] my first trichromatic film; three black-and-white images, each filtered red, blue and green, with five minutes between takes.

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Environment, Silver winner: Anger of an English sea, by Nick Howe

A view of white cliffs with a dark and rough sea beneathimage copyrightNick Howe

I found myself in a constantly changing mix of weather and light.

In the course of minutes the sky would shift from serene sunshine to tumultuous and stormy skies.

It was incredibly volatile.

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Fashion & Beauty, Gold winner: Crafting, by Matthew Shave

A model poses with bright lipstick and a thread running over her face and around the outline of her lipsimage copyrightMatthew Shave

To me, beauty photography has always been more than lipstick and powder, and I have long held a fascination for replicating conventional make-up with unexpected elements.

The bold colour works with the graphic lines to lead you through the story, whilst the tautness of the thread lends a gentle understated tension to the narrative.

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Fashion & Beauty, Silver winner: Spring Cleaning, by JC Candanedo

A model sits on a chair with a sponge clutched in her hand and one attached to her thighimage copyrightJC Candanedo

This image represents a juxtaposition of fashionable and extremely ordinary.

I’ve been interested in the influencer culture for some time now, and how they present their lives as being above the ordinary.

Behind all those glamorous images on their social media, influencers are just regular people like the rest of us.

But we perceive their lives as aspirational and unattainable, and that has a toll on our self-image and our mental health.

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Food & Drink, Gold winner: Gyotaku, by Aaron Graubart

A cooked fish on paper with abstract fish prints onimage copyrightMatthew Shave

Gyotaku is a kind of nature-printing method where fine rice paper is applied to the inked-up surface of a fish or other sea creature, first developed by Japanese fishermen to record their catch.

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Food & Drink, Silver winner: Eden Love Flying Gin, by Tal Silverman

A shot of pink gin in a glass with a flower, rhubarb, berries and a marshmallow underneathimage copyrightTal Silverman

A personal project exploring movement in liquids.

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Lifestyle, Gold winner: Las Cholitas Voladoras, by Todd Antony

Two luchadoras wrestlers grab at each other whilst flying through the airimage copyrightTodd Antony

Bolivia’s cholitas luchadoras first began practising their craft in the early 2000s, when a group of women in El Alto created a group of luchadoras inspired by Mexico’s lucha libre style of wrestling.

As little as 10 years ago, Bolivia’s indigenous Aymara women were socially ostracised and systematically marginalised.

Their fight in the ring becomes a dramatisation of that day-to-day struggle. 

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Lifestyle, Silver winner: I didn’t want to be a mum, by Sophie Ebrand

A film still of a child with subtitles saying "So this is a letter of apology, to him, to my son"image copyrightSophie Ebrand

The general preconception of motherhood in today’s society is that it is a joy. But is it only that?

Many also experience disappointment, guilt, even anger and fear.

Becoming a mum is hard but usually we only hear about sleepless nights, not the profound identity shift that accompanies becoming a mother.

The project is a raw, honest and intimate confession.

It’s about telling women it’s ok not to be ok with motherhood.

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Photojournalism, Gold winner: Made in Japan, by Nick David and Jack Flynn

A denim maker stands in a factoryimage copyrightNick David

Made in Japan is a short documentary film giving a window into the world of the famous Japanese denim mills in Okayama.

Japan’s obsession with American jeans led them to become the world’s best denim manufacturers in terms of knowledge and technique.

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Photojournalism, Silver winner: Boy Soldiers, by Euan Myles

A boy stands in the woods dressed as a solider from World War Twoimage copyrightEuan Myles

These portraits were taken at a 1940s festival in the sleepy Edwardian spa town of Woodhall Spa.

I find it amazing the level of interest these boys show in acting out a war that finished 60 years before they were born.

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Portrait, Gold winner: Jasmine, Dave and Jenny – In the Workshops of Cox London, by Alun Callender

Three metal forgers stand in their protective equipmentimage copyrightAlun Callender

This image is from November 2019, when I was making a series of portraits of the skilled craftspeople at the workshops of Cox London Ltd, a company in London specialising in unique lighting, furniture and artworks.

After making images of the three at work in the forge, they stood back and their arrangement was perfect. 

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Portrait, Silver winner: Makhila, by Sam Robinson

A ballet dancer poses with her leg up on the floor of a dance hallimage copyrightSam Robinson

[This is] from a personal project shot earlier this year on location at Ballet Academy East, New York City.

There is a passion and tenacity demonstrated by these dancers, but it runs hand in hand with a support for one another.

They are competing for the same goal but they also want to help each other achieve it.

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Project, Gold winner: Podo, by Matthew Joseph

A portrait of woman who suffers from podoconiosisimage copyrightMatthew Joseph

In the uplands of Ethiopia, at least 1.6 million ordinary people are living lives of quiet desperation, the victims of a skin disease known as podoconiosis.

Podo is a form of elephantiasis, the main symptoms of which include grotesque swelling and deformity of the lower legs and feet.

It is caused simply by barefoot farming on certain types of ancient red volcanic soil.

Sufferers are routinely mistaken as infectious, cursed by God, possessed by spirits.

Wives are evicted, children live with the family’s livestock, men wither, one becomes unhuman.

Forced from home, village and community, many starve or take their own life.

The feet of someone who suffers from podoconiosisimage copyrightMatthew Joseph
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Project, Gold winner: Wastelands, by Simon Puschmann

Pieces of rubbish are arranged neatly on the groundimage copyrightSimon Puschmann

For my series Wastelands, I wanted to highlight the scope and permanence of trash produced by various metropolitan cities.

By transforming garbage into an elegant exercise of composition, form and line, the disposed waste begins to create an unusual portrait of each respective place.

By elevating these disposed materials, they become mediations on the larger global issue of excessive waste.

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Still Life & Object, Gold winner: All at Sea, by Wendy Carrig

A scuffed and worn plastic lighter retrieved from the sea, featuring a bikini-clad woman sitting on an image of the Earthimage copyrightWendy Carrig

I’ve been collecting sea-worn plastics from my local beach for over 20 years.

Vast quantities of discarded plastics continue to choke and pollute our oceans and I created these images to highlight the issue.

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Still Life & Object, Silver winner: Anima, No. 9 – The Toucan, by Florian W. Mueller

A stuffed dead toucan birdimage copyrightFlorian W. Mueller

Long time dead, stuffed and staged, these animals show a character and a certain kind of melancholy.

The soul long ago left the body, which, thanks to taxidermy, defies decay.

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Discovery Award: Into The Mountain, by Felicity Crawshaw

Three women stand in various poses in a mountainous areaimage copyrightFelicity Crawshaw

Into The Mountain documents a project created by artist and choreographer Simone Kenyon, developed over several years in collaboration with women living and working within the Cairngorms mountain range in Scotland.

The project explores and celebrates women’s connection with mountainous and wild environments.

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Discovery Award: I Wish I Could Paint, by Ian Kirby

Landscapeimage copyrightIan Kirby

Inspired by landscape oil paintings, I challenged myself to use a single photographic exposure to offer people my interpretation of the landscapes around us.

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Photos are subject to copyright.