Vanessa Winship

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Vanessa Winship
Born 1960 (age 54–55)
Nationality British
Occupation Photographer
Works Sweet Nothings
She Dances on Jackson
Spouse(s) George Georgiou

Vanessa Winship (born 1960) is a British photographer who works on long term projects of portrait, landscape, reportage and documentary photography. She has worked on numerous personal projects, predominantly in Eastern Europe, photographs from which have been exhibited twice in the National Portrait Gallery in London and prominently at Les Rencontres d'Arles; included in three highly regarded books; and have won her two World Press Photo Awards, 'Photographer of the Year' at the Sony World Photography Awards, and the HCB Award (the first woman to do so). She is a member of Agence Vu photography agency.[1]

Her first retrospective exhibition was at Fundación MAPFRE gallery in Madrid in 2014.[2]


Winship grew up in Barton-upon-Humber,[3][4] rural Lincolnshire.[5] She studied at Baysgarth School;[4] Hull Art College[4] (which included a photography module); photography at Filton Technical College, Bristol;[4] and photography, film, and video at the Polytechnic of Central London from 1984 to '87, graduating with a BA (Hons). She met her husband, the photographer George Georgiou, on the degree course.[5]

From 1999 she spent a decade living and working in the Balkans and surrounding territories of Turkey and the Black Sea. First she lived in Belgrade, for a short while in Athens, and five years in Istanbul.[6]

Her work is about the concepts of borders,[6] land, desire, identity, belonging,[6] memory and history, how those histories are told and how identities are expressed.[7]

Her books have been widely acclaimed. Sean O'Hagan, writing in The Guardian, said "She is perhaps best known for Sweet Nothings, one of my favourite photography books of recent years".[6] She Dances on Jackson was considered by Simon Bainbridge (editor of the BJP),[8] Sean O'Hagan,[9] Rob Hornstra[10] and other reviewers to be shortlisted amongst the best photography books released in 2013.[11][12][13][14] Phil Coomes, Picture editor at BBC News said "This is pure photography, and in my view, when viewed as a whole, is about as good as it gets."[15]

Winship is a member of the World Photographic Academy.[16] In 2012 and 2013 she has been based in London and Folkestone, England.[5]


Winship and George Georgiou travel together,[6] alternating between one working and the other either supporting them or experimenting with their own photography.[5]

She uses black-and-white photographic film in natural light.[17] For her work in a reportage – or street – style she has used a 35 mm hand-held camera,[n 1] for her landscape work she has at times used a medium format camera[3] and for her portraiture work she has at times used a 5×4 inch large format camera.[n 2][6][15][17][18] She says of the difference between using 35 mm and large format that "Each methodology makes for a different relationship with my subjects [and] both have their own beauty for me".[19]


  • Georgia in Transition (2004)
  • Ukraine, Spring (2005)
  • Imagined States and Desires: A Balkan Journey 1 (2006)
  • Ashura - Turkey, Istanbul (2006)
  • Black Sea: Between chronicle and fiction (2007)
  • Sweet Nothings: The Schoolgirls from the Borderlands of Eastern Anatolia (2007)
  • Georgia, a Small Piece of Eden (2009)
  • Georgia, Schoolchildren (2011)



Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • Black Sea - Vannes (2008), Paris (2008), Shenyang (2008), Newcastle, England (2009), Sète (2011), Rome (2011)
  • Sweet Nothings: The Schoolgirls from the Borderlands of Eastern Anatolia - Les Rencontres d'Arles, France (2008),[23] Athens (2008), Lillebonne (2009), London (2009), Rotterdam, the Netherlands (2009), Newcastle, England (2009), Saint-Denis (2010), Foligno (2010), Milan (2010), Vichy (2013)
  • Georgia - Rencontres internationales de la photographie en Gaspésie, Canada (2012), Third Floor Gallery, Cardiff, Wales (2013)[24]
  • She Dances on Jackson - Paris (2013)[3]
  • Retrospective, Fundación MAPFRE gallery, during PHotoEspaña 2014,[n 3] Madrid (2014).[25]

Exhibitions with others[edit]

  • Voyage Mélancolique, 14 January – 8 March 2015, Le Chateau D'eau, Toulouse, France. Work from Black Sea, Georgia, She dances on Jackson and Sweet Nothings.[26] Exhibited alongside Last Stop by George Georgiou.


  • 1998 - First prize, Arts Stories category, World Press Photo Awards, for Junior Ballroom Dancers[6]
  • 2003 - Honorable mention, Leica Oskar Barnack Award, awarded by Leica Camera AG at Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie, Arles, France, for "Albanian Landscape"[20]
  • 2008
    • Godfrey Argent Award for the best portrait in black and white (part of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize), National Portrait Gallery, London, for the series Sweet Nothings[27]
    • Iris D'Or (overall winner), Photographer of the Year, Sony World Photography Awards, World Photography Organisation (WPO)[6]
    • Winner, Portraiture category, Professional Competition, Sony World Photography Awards, World Photography Organisation (WPO), for a photograph from Sweet Nothings[28]
    • First prize, Portraits Stories category, 2007 World Press Photo Awards, for Sweet Nothings[29]
    • FIOF (Fondo Internazionale Orvieto Fotografia) Book Prize 2008 (AKA the Orvieto Book Prize), Reportage section, awarded by Associazione Fotografi Italiana, Orvieto, Italy, for Schwarzes Meer[20]
    • Final selection, Leica Oskar Barnack Award, awarded by Leica Camera AG at Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie, Arles, France, for Schwarzes Meer[20]
  • 2009 - Second Prize, Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, National Portrait Gallery, London, for Girl in a Golden Dress from the series Georgia for a Song[30]
  • 2010
    • PHotoEspaña (PHE) Discovery Award for best portfolio (Premio PHotoEspaña Descubrimientos al mejor portfolio), International Festival of Photography and Visual Arts, Madrid, Spain, for the series Sweet Nothings[31][32]
    • National Media Museum 2010 Photography Award, Bradford, England[33]
  • 2011 - Prize-winner, HCB Award 2011, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, for She Dances on Jackson (then known as Out there: An American Odyssey)[6]


  1. ^ Schwarzes Meer was shot using 35 mm.
  2. ^ Sweet Nothings was shot using a large format camera.
  3. ^ Not being Spanish, her show is not officially included within PHotoEspaña 2014 as in that year it focused on Spanish photography.


  1. ^ "Photographers". Agence Vu. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  2. ^ Hodgson, Francis (27 June 2014). "PhotoEspaña: the gaze turns inwards". Financial Times. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Jobey, Liz (10 May 2013). "Looking for America". Financial Times. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Former pupil turned photographer returns to school as part of project". Scunthorpe Telegraph. 2 February 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d Bainbridge, Simon (2013). "The Long Road". British Journal of Photography (Apptitude Media) 160 (7814): 48–73. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i O'Hagan, Sean (28 June 2011). "Vanessa Winship's poetic portraits". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "Portrait Society Gallery presents Vanessa Winship's 'Dancers and Fighters'". World Photography Organisation. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  8. ^ Bainbridge, Simon (2013). "Best photobooks of 2013". British Journal of Photography (Incisive Financial Publishing Limited) 160 (7819): 84. Simon Bainbridge, editor of BJP ... She dances on Jackson Vanessa Winship Mack 
  9. ^ O'Hagan, Sean (8 December 2013). "Photography books of the year – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Hornstra, Rob (3 January 2014). "Best books 2013: Rob Hornstra". Photo-Eye. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  11. ^ Colberg, Jörg (23 December 2013). "My favourite photobooks in 2013". Conscientious Photography Magazine. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "Time Picks the Best Photobooks of 2013". Time (magazine). 25 November 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  13. ^ Andrews, Blake (1 January 2014). "Best books 2013: Blake Andrews". Photo-Eye. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  14. ^ Hido, Todd (5 January 2014). "Best books 2013: Todd Hido". Photo-Eye. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  15. ^ a b c Coomes, Phil (15 May 2013). "Each picture paints 1,000 words in Vanessa Winship's US photos". BBC. Retrieved 2 January 2014. This is pure photography, and in my view, when viewed as a whole, is about as good as it gets. 
  16. ^ "Sony World Photography Awards 2012 L’Iris d’Or and Winners Announced". World Photography Organisation. 26 April 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2014. Dobrowner was chosen as the winner of the L’Iris d’Or by a panel of nine judges. In addition to a $25,000 cash prize and Sony’s latest digital imaging camera equipment, he is awarded the accolade of joining previous L’Iris d’Or winners Alejandro Chaskielberg, David Zimmerman and Vanessa Winship as a member of the World Photographic Academy. 
  17. ^ a b "Portrait Society Gallery presents Vanessa Winship's 'Dancers and Fighters'". World Photography Organisation. 2 August 2010. Retrieved 18 January 2014. She uses an Ebony 5x4 field camera with natural lighting. 
  18. ^ "School Photos – Vanessa Winship in Rural Turkey". 8 July 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2014. Essentially I’ve worked for many years using 35mm in a reportage – or street – style ... The new work, though, is shot on 5×4 specifically 
  19. ^ Lane, Christopher (22 February 2009). "Vanessa Winship". Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  20. ^ a b c d Jobey, Liz (18 December 2008). "Photographer Vanessa Winship: Anatolian borders". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  21. ^ Newman, Cheryl (5 Aug 2013). "Captivating black and white photographs of the US wilderness". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  22. ^ Peces, Juan (19 May 2013). "Norteamérica como ensoñación". El País. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  23. ^ O'Hagan, Sean (13 July 2008). "Arles dressed up for the summer". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  24. ^ "Third Floor Gallery Cardiff - Exhibitions. "Georgia" by Vanessa Winship". Third Floor Gallery. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "Vanessa Winship: the great, unsung chronicler of the world's outsiders". The Guardian. 17 June 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  26. ^ "Vanessa Winship: Voyage mélancolique". Le Chateau D'eau. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  27. ^ "Vanessa Winship Recipient of the Godfrey Argent Award… News Photo". Getty Images. 4 November 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2014. Vanessa Winship, recipient of the Godfrey Argent Award, during the National Portrait Gallery's Taylor Wessing Award 2008 at the National Portrait Gallery on November 4, 2008 in London, England 
  28. ^ [1] Sony World Photography Awards at Cannes
  29. ^ "2008 World Press Photo Awards". CBS News. Retrieved 2 January 2014. First prize in the Portraits Stories category of the 2008 World Press Photo contest by British photographer Vanessa Winship, Agence Vu, showing rural school girls in eastern Turkey, 2007. 
  30. ^ [2] National Portrait Gallery - Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Priz
  31. ^ "The Israeli Yaakov Israel, winner of Descubrimientos PHE12". Retrieved 2 January 2014. The winners of the last editions of the prize are Fernando Brito,Vanessa Winship 
  32. ^ "Winner of Discoveries PHE Award 2010 Vanessa Winship Presents Her Solo Exhibition". artdaily. Retrieved 2 January 2014. Madrid.- Under Off Festival section of PHotoEspaña 2011, the British photographer Vanessa Winship, winner of Descubrimientos PHE Award 2010 (Discoveries PHE), shows her work Sweet Nothings in a solo exhibition at the Art bookstore and gallery Gloria. 
  33. ^ "Winners of the National Media Museum 2010 Photography Awards Announced". National Media Museum. 25 November 2010. Retrieved 2 January 2014. The National Media Museum, in partnership with Photoworks and five sponsors, have made six awards from a total Award sum of £20,000. ... The successful applicants are: ... Vanessa Winship ... The National Media Museum is also pleased to announce that James Hyman Photography will be staging an exhibition of the 2010 Award winners at their Savile Row gallery in March 2011. 

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