KNGS Pupil Wins Prize at Prestigious National Photo Competition

Birmingham-based Kings Norton Girls’ School & Sixth Form student, Libby Styles has won a prize in a prestigious, national photography competition, for an image which captures her vision of life in 2018.

The photograph which shows a father who appears to be too engrossed in his phone to notice his son pointing at something, won first prize in the category of ‘Age of innovation’ in the Economic and Social Research Council’s ‘The Bigger Picture’ competition.

Libby collected her £100 prize last night at a special awards ceremony held at the Espacio Gallery, Shoreditch, London. Libby’s photograph will be displayed at the Espacio Gallery in a special exhibition, which will run until 25 March.

The photographic competition is the fourth to be run by the ESRC. This year’s competition tasked young people from across the UK to explore how social science is relevant to their lives – with a picture encapsulating how the world is changing and how it affects them, their families, friends and communities as a whole.

The photos were required to show the ‘bigger picture’ of society today; looking at how the world is changing, be that through the rise of populist leaders like Donald Trump, or through the impact of technology. Students were asked to consider how things like politics, education, climate change, healthcare, technology, migration and poverty affect them and others.

More than 550 images were sent in by students from 75 schools, across 118 places in the UK. They shared a vast range of inspiring and thought-provoking images, taken not only with their cameras, but smartphones and tablets.

Libby says of her image ‘The Modern Family’: “Does it represent the negative side of the rise in social media and our addiction to our phones? While technology can be a positive thing, can it also change the dynamics of the modern family?”

James Abelson, Photography Co-Ordinator at Kings Norton Girls’ School & Sixth Form says: “We were delighted to support ‘The Bigger Picture’ competition. Thanks to the ESRC for enthusing the art photographers of the future and for promoting their talent in the creative heart of London. It is always gratifying when students can take their work to a high level combining both creativity and technical excellence whilst communicating a relevant message. We encourage students to develop their own ‘voice’ and to have the confidence to express it and are especially pleased when such skills are recognised.”

In total the ESRC awarded more than £3,800 to the winners, with prizes divided into five diverse categories: ‘New world order’; ‘Age of innovation’; ‘Fragile Earth’; ‘Being me’; and ‘Society in chaos’. In addition, the judges were asked to pick their personal favourite, with each winner receiving £50 in vouchers.

The quality of this year’s entries was “outstanding” according to the judges, who include Jacky Clake, Head of Communications for ESRC; Ollie Smallwood, a portrait and documentary photographer; Sophie Batterbury, Head of Pictures at the i newspaper; Phil Coomes, BBC picture editor and photographer; Karin Woodley, ESRC Council member and Chief Executive of Cambridge House; and Joanne Gallagher, a psychology student at the University of York who won the competition in 2016.

Professor Jennifer Rubin, Chief Executive and Executive Chair Designate of the ESRC, says:

“Social science encompasses how people behave, understand, impact upon and are influenced by the world around them. So to illustrate how social change affects them and those around them within a photograph is a real challenge, and I am extremely impressed with how this has been successfully captured by so many young people with their brilliant images. I congratulate all of our winners, who have demonstrated not only exceptional artistic talent, but also thoughtfulness, deep insight, and an understanding of the relevance of social science to their lives.”

In addition to being displayed at the Espacio Gallery, the winning images will also appear in the ESRC’s Society Now magazine.

Slideshow of the images:

All winning and shortlisted images:


Image of Libby Styles with judge Karin Woodley.


For further information contact:

  • Sarah Nichols, ESRC Senior Press Manager


Telephone: 01793 413049


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.