Economic and Social Research Council
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Call for young photographers to capture the bigger picture

What happens in the world affects all of us, and young people are being challenged to take a photograph that demonstrates this impact. 

The Economic and Social Research Council is calling for entries to its fourth photographic competition, entitled The Bigger Picture, which invites 14 to 18 year olds to explore how things such as politics, education, climate change, healthcare, technology, migration and poverty affect them, other people or the nation as a whole.

The images can be taken on cameras, mobile phones or tablets and can be entered to one of five categories: New World Order, the impact of political change such as Brexit and new style politicians such as President Trump; Age of Innovation, the impact of new technologies such as social media and AI; Fragile Earth, our physical impact on our planet; Being Me, issues surrounding young people such as bullying, addiction, exam worries or being a young carer; or Society in Chaos, the impact of the threat of terrorism and migration, and discussion points such as national pride versus nationalism. 

Social science research plays a vital role in our society. From big ideas to the most detailed observations, social science affects us all every day - at work, in school or college, within our communities, when exploring our identities and expressing our beliefs. The Bigger Picture competition is an opportunity for young people to find out more about the social sceicnes and society today.

Competition judge Jacky Clake, Head of Communications at the ESRC, said: "This will be our fourth competition exclusively for 14 to 18 year olds. Since we started, many thousands of photos have been submitted and the standard of the images is truly exceptional. We are delighted to see so many young people taking part and exploring the relevance of social science to their life through photography."

The other judges are photographer Ollie Smallwood, i newspaper picture editor Sophie Batterbury, BBC picture editor and photographer Phil Coomes, and Karin Woodley, who has 30 years' experience in public-facing charities tackling social and cultural injustice and inequality.

Photographer Ollie said he enjoyed judging the competition each year because it always receives some outstanding pictures and fascinating insights into social issues. 

He explained: "I feel it's important to encourage the next generation of photographers, and young people in general, to look at the world with an original and critical eye. Hopefully this will lead to exciting photography / art and fresh thinking to tackle social and environmental challenges in the future.

"I would encourage those taking part to be original. We're all slightly different and we all see the world from our own unique perspective. And each of these original perspectives are interesting, exciting and valuable. So, be yourself and trust your unique eye!"

The competition is open until 15 December 2017 and winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Espacio Gallery in London on 20 March 2018.

All the winning and shortlisted images will be displayed at the Espacio Gallery, and the winners will also appear in the ESRC's Society Now magazine.

The overall winner will receive £200 in vouchers, while each category winner and the best image submitted via social media will receive £100 in vouchers. The judges' favourite images will receive £50 in vouchers. 

Photographs can also be entered via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, using the hashtag #esrcphoto.

Further information

Notes for editors

  1. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest funder of research on the social and economic questions facing us today. It supports the development and training of the UK’s future social scientists and also funds major studies that provide the infrastructure for research. ESRC-funded research informs policymakers and practitioners and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective. The ESRC also works collaboratively with six other UK research councils and Innovate UK to fund cross-disciplinary research and innovation addressing major societal challenges. The ESRC is an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter in 1965, and funded mainly by the Government.
  2. The ESRC Photographic Competition is open to all young people resident in the UK and born between 1 September 1999 and 31 August 2003. Images can be taken on a camera, mobile phone or tablet. This year, the ESRC is inviting social media entries to the competition, allowing a further three photographs to be submitted via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, using the hashtag #esrcphoto. The competition is open until 15 December 2017 and winners of each of the categories, social media entry, overall winner and judges' favourite image, will be announced at the ESRC prize-giving event. Where a winning entrant has specified a school, sixth form, further education college or youth group as part of their application, the organisation will also receive a prize. The total prize fund is more than £2,000. All winning and shortlisted images will be displayed at an exhibition in the Espacio Gallery in London, which will run from 20-25 March 2018.


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