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St Mary’s students win prizes in national photography competition

St Mary’s students win prizes in national photography competition

Charlotte S. and Emma P., two Year 13 photography students, have both won prizes in a prestigious national photography competition. Emma S. (Y12) and Alice P. (Y13) were also highly commended for their entries.

The ‘Better Lives’ photo competition is the fifth to be organised by the Economic and Social Research Council, and gives young people aged 14-18 the opportunity to get creative with their cameras and smartphones, and explore the real issues that impact society. This year the competition asked students to take a photograph exploring what the phrase 'better lives' means to them. Pupils were encouraged to think about how health, relationships, education, the economy and the environment all contribute to society and people’s lives.

Winners were divided across the five categories of the competition that explored important issues in the social sciences: Better Economy, Better Education, Better Environment, Better Health and Better Relationships.  

Charlotte was awarded runner up in the ‘Better environment’ category of the competition for her image ‘Fun or Deadly?’, and took home £50 in vouchers and a medal.  Emma, also 17, was crowned winner of the ‘Better Health’ category for her photo ‘Antioxidant’ and was awarded £150 in vouchers and a trophy. Alice and Emma S. were give certificates on commendation and medals for their entries. St Mary’s Photography teachers Ms Dutton and Ms Conroy were immensely proud of their students’ achievements.  

The young photographers were given their prizes at an awards ceremony held at Espacio gallery in London on 26 March, and their images will be displayed in a special exhibition at the gallery between 27 and 30 March. 

The judges were overwhelmed by the quality of the entrants, and there were more than 506 entries of nearly 800 images submitted by students from 160 places in the UK, with pupils coming from a wide range of schools and colleges.

Describing her vibrant and colourful image of plastic straws, Charlotte says: “I took this photo to raise awareness of the environment and the effect it has on our planet. There are 100 million marine deaths each year from plastic debris such as straws. It also takes 500 years for plastic to decompose. The friendly and welcoming colours in the photo distract from how deadly these cylinders can be.” 

Emma’s photo ‘Antioxidant’ is a portrait of her younger brother holding a blueberry picked from their family garden. She says: “Blueberries are antioxidants, and are associated with healthy minds and the ability to retain memories. He picked the blueberry because he likes the taste and was excited that the plant had finally produced fruit, but without realising the benefits it has. He is inadvertently making better life choices by eating healthy foods.” 

Susan Conroy, Head of Art at St Mary’s School, Cambridge said: “We are thrilled that Charlotte and Emma have done so well - we are really proud of all of our Photography students who entered the competition and of the exceptionally high standard of their work. Photography is an innovative and exciting medium in which to work, and through entering the ESRC's competition, we have been able to challenge our students further in developing their creativity. Health, well-being and looking after the environment are very important to us at St Mary’s, so it is wonderful that our students achieved so highly in these categories.” 

Professor Jennifer Rubin, Executive Chair of ESRC said: “There were some brilliant entries to this year’s ESRC Photo Competition. My congratulations to all of our prize winners, who displayed a breadth of social science research and have helped to show how social science can contribute across a number of areas from the economy to the environment.”