KNGS Pupil wins prize at national photographic competition

Josie Drapkin, a pupil at Kings Norton Girls’ School and Sixth Form in Birmingham has won a prize in a prestigious national photography competition.

17 year old Josie won the Judge’s Favourite category of the competition for her photograph ‘A proud embrace’, and took home a prize fund of £50 in vouchers at an awards ceremony held at Espacio gallery in London on 26 March. Her image will be displayed in a special exhibition at the gallery between 27 and 30 March.

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.

The judges were overwhelmed by the quality of the entrants, and there were more than 506 images submitted by students from 160 schools in the UK.

Josie’s photo was chosen as the winner by judge Joanne Gallagher, a student at the University of York who was crowned winner of the competition in

Josie accepts her award from judge, Joanne Gallagher.


Joanne Gallagher, a former winner of the ESRC Photo Competition and current judge said: “I chose the image “A proud embrace” as my judges favourite as the joy that was captured and felt from the image really well depicted “better relationships” particularly in our ever-growing, diverse society today.”

Describing her photo, which shows two men jubilantly embracing at London Pride in 2018, Josie says: “The Pride event is a very important day for many LGBTQ+ people as well as their friends and family, as it marks a day of acceptance and expression. The idea of ‘Better relationships’ blossoms at

Pride, as strangers become friends and friends become even closer. As well as pride there can be a sense of vulnerability in allowing yourself to be seen as something that many have discriminated against for a long time. However, this photo shows the positive outcome that this vulnerability can lead to.”

James Abelson, Photography Co-ordinator at Kings Norton Girls’  School & Sixth Form says “At Kings Norton Girls’ School & Sixth Form we were delighted to support ‘The Better Lives’ 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.”

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.

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.”

The entrants came from a range of schools and colleges, which will also receive the same prize amount as each winner. All the winning photographs will be displayed at a special exhibition at the Espacio Gallery between March 27 and 30.