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After the success of last year's competition Two Meters of Separation, Equal Lens held a 2021 Photography Competition. This year we asked women and non-binary people to use their creativity to enter a photograph/s that celebrates joy from a cultural perspective.


The key challenge was for photographers to actively seek out what was unknown to them personally, observing it with curiosity and open eyes, and finding the beauty in that chosen subject. That subject could have been an object, a person, an area … whatever they so desire. The key was to step out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves to respond to this brief in a creative way… 

Thank you to everyone who entered. These are the winning images chosen by our esteemed judges.

The competition was also featured on the BBC 'In Pictures' Click here to check out the article!


Winner: Leia Ankers @leia_ankers
1st Runner-Up - Laura Pannack @laurapannack 
2nd Runner-Up - Kim Black @kimmiiblack
2nd Runner-Up - Jennifer Ortiz @bitsofbeauty
Highly Commended - Kristina Varaksina @kristinavaraksina
Highly Commended - Naomi Wood @naomiswood 


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Winner: Leia Ankers

Image Title: Cordelia
Image Location: Peterborough, UK
Image Story:

This portrait from my series 'The Same As You' was instigated from having a disability myself. I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age 3. These differences from a young age introduced me to the experience of stigma, of being the 'Other'. I wanted to change the way that people with dual sensory impairment and additional disabilities are perceived by society.

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1st Runner-Up: Laura Pannack
Image Title: Island Symmetries
Image Location: Tipton and Tasmania
Image Story:

These images are from a series Island symmetries exploring the similarity in youth on opposites sides of the earth. A time of heightened emotion and transition. The intense joy we feel as a child is rarely matched in adulthood.

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2nd Runner-Up: Kim Black

Image Title: Joy

Image Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Image Story:

This photo was taken after rangers won the league. I walked into this scene. The two men in the right hand side are joyous in their appearance. The man near the left makes direct eye contact with the camera as he carries his friend on his back.

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2nd Runner-Up: Jennifer Ortiz

Image Title: The Reveler

Image Location: New Orleans, USA
Image Story:

As Flozell Daniels was about to have his picture taken, Jennifer Jacobs climbed upon the former platform of the Battle of Liberty Place monument (locally known to have

been a monument to white supremacy) and began dancing and tossing beads to the people passing by. Due to Covid 19 precautions, Mardi Gras was cancelled for 2021, but New Orleanians like Jacobs found safe ways to spread the joy.

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Highly Commended: Kristina Varaksina
Image Title: Joannè with her son Marcus
Image Location: London, UK

Image Story: 
Persons with albinism are one of the most marginalised groups in

the world, as they are discriminated against on the grounds of both disability and colour. Joannè has had to do a lot of work to find her identity, accept and finally love herself for who she is. Marcus was born in 2021 and as a mother of black child she is ready to face more challenges.

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Highly Commended: Naomi Wood
Image Title: I Wake To Listen
Image Location: Frome, UK

Image Story: 

Lately our relationship has felt fraught. He needs my attention in new ways. My time playing with him has become so valuable to him and he will kick and punch and scream at me when he feels a void. It’s fucking hard. So often, I strain not to shout at him, sometimes I relent, sometimes I cry too. But there are times when I remember to play, change the tone, let the walls fall down and that’s when he finds comfort in me again. I love those moments the most - knowing I can soothe him fills my heart. I have to dig so deep to reach that well of joy, when I get there it quenches us both.

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Sachini Imbuldeniya :  Founder & Managing Director, Studio Pi 

Jason Heward : Managing Director, Leica Camera UK   

Izabela Radwanska Zhang : Editorial Director, 1854 Media 

Lorie Jo Trainor Buckingham : Global Creative Director, Deliveroo

Rosie Hart :  Director, Serlin Associates

Zuki Sedgley : Creative Director, Phantom Equal Lens


  1. British Journal of Photography one-year full access membership + print subscription

  2. Leica ONA Bag The Berlin II (choice between Vintage Bourbon or Black) 

  3. Winning photographs printed + framed courtesy of Print Foundry Lab and exhibited at the Proud Galleries, London for the prize-giving event.

  4. Attending and showcasing at winners’ event at Proud Galleries, London

  5. Winners featured on our social media channels and our website

  6. One on one with industry commissioners


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