The Royal Photographic Society announces its 2021 award winners

The Royal Photographic Society has just announced the recipients of its prestigious yearly awards. Since 1878, the RPS has celebrated individuals who work in both film and photography and the 18 categories recognize significant achievements, showcase new and emerging talent and highlight notable contributions from RPS members. 

This year’s virtual award ceremony was hosted by RPS president Simon Hill, who had the honor of announcing the winners. The RPS is one of the longest-running photographic societies in history. Now based in Bristol, its mission is to bring inspiration, creativity and connection through photography to people of all ages and backgrounds.

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While some awards focus on an individual's contribution to the science of photography, such as the Progress Medal, others center around actual photos that explore topics such as personal heritage, natural phenomena, relationships and society. 

Each year, the RPS Awards also bestow three different bursaries to outstanding creatives. This year the Joan Wakelin Bursary, in partnership with The Guardian, was awarded to Supratim Bhattacharjee. Joanna Vestey was the recipient of the Environmental Bursary, in partnership with Photographic Angle, while Jimmi Ho received the Postgraduate Bursary supported by MPB.

You can watch the full awards ceremony in the video above, or scroll below to see a selection of this year's award recipients. 

Hood Medal

(Image credit: Dexter McLean, Jay-Jay © The artist)

Awarded to Dexter McLean, a photographer with cerebral palsy who is advocating the disabled community through his documentary and portrait work.

Honorary Fellowships

(Image credit: Mitra Tabrizian, from the series Another Country, 2010 © The artist)

(Image credit: Lola Flash, from the series AfroFuturism © The artist)

(Image credit: Dana Lixenberg, Puff Daddy © Dana Lixenberg)

(Image credit: Alec Soth, Cammy’s View, Salt Lake City, 2018 © Alec Soth / Magnum Photos)

(Image credit: Vanley Burke, Men fill the grave of a young man who was shot, 2008 © The artist)

This year, Vanley Burke, Valie Export, Lola Flash, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Dana Lixenberg, Alec Soth and Mitra Tabrizian were awarded honorary fellowships for their exceptional and innovative work connected to the art or science of photography.

Scientific Imaging Award

(Image credit: Kym Cox, Orgasmic, Rude Bubbles series © The artist)

For her photography dedicated to the phenomena of soap bubbles, Kym was awarded the Scientific Imaging Award having previously appeared in the RPS Science Photographer of the Year exhibition.

Editorial, Advertising and Fashion Photography Award

(Image credit: Tyler Mitchell, Butterfly, 2019 © Tyler Mitchell. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York)

Tyler Mitchell, photographer and filmmaker, for his work that spans genres to explore and document a new aesthetic of Blackness.

Progress Medal

(Image credit: Katie Bouman © Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration)

Katie Bouman's work in the science and technology of photographic imaging, with the International Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration in April 2019, led to the first image of a black hole 53.5 million light-years from earth. This year she was awarded the Progress Medal for her contribution to the science of photography. 

Lumière Award

(Image credit: Phoebe Boswell, Here, Installation view, New Art Exchange, 2021. Photo: Reece Straw © The artist and Reece Straw)

Phoebe Boswell was awarded the Lumière Award for her major achievements in film and video. Her multidisciplinary practice centers upon drawing but spans animation, sound, video, writing, interactivity, and performance to create immersive installations.

Vic Odden Award

(Image credit: Silvia Rosi, Self-Portrait as my Father, 2019, from the series Encounter © Silvia Rosi)

For her work exploring her personal history, heritage and origins, Silvia Rosi was awarded the Vic Odden Award which recognizes notable achievements in the art of photography for individuals under 35. 

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.