BJP – Portrait of Britain nationwide exhibition

British Journal of Photography (BJP) held an exhibition called “Portrait of Britain” where it featured the modern face of Britain.  Portraits that reflect the unique heritage and diversity of Britain.  Submissions varied from selfies to snapshots to documentary and street photography.  BJP selected 100 winning portraits to be showcased on JCDecaux digital screens. Visible on high streets, roadsides and in transport hubs.  The exhibition is held from 1st to 31st September 2016.

Below are some of the photographs that caught my attention:


Dave Okumu by ©Phil Sharp

Phil Sharp’s portrait of Dave Okumu, musician and producer is very striking.  The portrait was chosen to be featured on BJP’s cover.  The colours here play a big role in the photograph.  It gives a strong visual impact.  The primary colors of red, blue and yellow works well together and adds an energetic feeling to the character.  Although we cannot see the subject’s eyes but his clothes say a lot about him.  The photographer used a vertical shot that shows the head and shoulder of the subject.  It is a candid photo where the photographer used an interesting background colour to avoid the ordinary and to add to the subject’s lifestyle.



Chicken Mascot By ©Kelvin Murray

This seems like a candid shot by photographer Kelvin of the subject taking a break and sipping water out of a bottle.  I loved the somewhat cinematic look of the photograph, the angle of the shot, the empty space, texture of the costume, minimalist of the environment and neutral colours.  The eyes are drawn immediately to the subject because it stands out as a colour within a neutral background that has no other color to compete with for attention.

I personally was drawn to this photograph specifically because of the overall mood of the image.  The colours created a special mood and emotion to the photograph that convey a story of a man who entertains others by wearing a costume (mask on the true personality) but when on break, he goes back to the “real him”.  A normal human being with problems and big responsibilities to think and stress about.



Portrait by ©Jamie McGregor Smith: “Photographed in his studio in Bethnal Green, London, Rob Ryan is famous for his intricate and romantic illustrations. With the sun high in the sky, the skylights created a beautiful spot light on the artist and his work, separating him from the rest of the studio. Capturing your subject whilst their attention is off camera, allows the viewer’s attention to examine the whole context of the space, and better appreciate the relationship with their working environment.”

The place or location of the photograph taken by photographer Jamie McGregor addresses the story of the subject.  He has taken an advantage of the chaotic background by including what adds to the story and excluding what doesn’t.  The location means something to the subject who is here an Illustrator.

The use of framing and light helped draw the attention to the subject but at the same time the eyes can wander around looking at every detail of the space provided in the photograph.  Photographing the subject within his environment helped achieve the natural and candid feel of the portrait and helped show the subject’s personality and lifestyle.


Disappearing Home

Mr Bloomfield by ©Emanuele Giovagnoli. Emanuele Giovagnoli: “Mr Bloomfield, fishmonger and photographer, is surrounded by the photographs of London Old Billingsgate Fish Market that he took over three decades. George’s Plaice shop, Roman Road, Bow, London 2015.”

This portrait by photographer Emanuele Giovagnoli tells the story of Mr. Bloomfield using the background as context.  His old photographs hanged on the wall, his expression and the space in front of Mr. Bloomfield where his gaze is fixed create strength and add interest to the photograph.



Bibliography / References:

BJP. Be part of our new nationwide exhibition, Portrait of Britain [online]. British Journal of Photography. Available from: [Accessed 30 September, 2016].

BJP.  BJP’s Portrait of Britain exhibition to launch across the UK on 1st September [online]. British Journal of Photography. Available from: [Accessed 30 September, 2016].

BJP. Portrait of Britain [online]. British Journal of Photography. Available from: [Accessed 30 September, 2016].



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