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Congratulations to Forough Yavari, the inaugural winner of the International Portrait Photographer of the Year. Forough's portrait titled 'Solitude' won The Portrait Story Category as well as the overall prize.

And congratulations to the category winners:

The Portrait Story: 1st Forough Yavari; 2nd Forough Yavari; 3rd Nancy Flammea.

The Family Sitting: 1st Zay Yar Lin; 2nd Jatenipat Ketpradit; 3rd Nancy Flammea.

The Environmental Portrait: 1st Josef Bürgi; 2nd Karen Waller; 3rd Azim Khan Ronnie.

The Character Study: 1st Zay Yar Lin; 2nd Forough Yavari; 3rd Brian Cassey.

As you can see, Forough's success was not just one lucky photo, but three of her five entries featured in the winners list! The first prize is US $3000, each category first prize $1000, with 2nd $500 and 3rd $250. Congratulations again to our winners.

However, the main aim of our Award is to be selected in the Top 101 portrait photographs of the year and be published in our annual book. You can see if you made it in the PDF flipbook at the bottom of this article.

While we have prizes (and there's no doubt our winning images this year are remarkable - see the slide show above), as judges and successful entrants know, being a prize-winner is partly opinion and partly luck. That’s why we put more emphasis on being in the Top 101 as there is plenty of room for a variety of tastes, approaches and styles. And any of the Top 101 photographs could be a prize winner on the day.

We think there's nothing more satisfying than seeing our photos published alongside the world's best - so congratulations to all the Top 101 photographers. Being in the Top 101 gives you a place in our exclusive book which is published online and can be purchased as a 'real' hard-cover paper publication as well (it's proudly printed by Momento Pro).

This is our first year of the International Portrait Photographer of the Year Award and we're following a similar philosophy to our successful International Landscape Photographer of the Year Awards (now in its eighth year). And because we want to create a book of 'contemporary' photography, we're not interested in old chestnuts that have won awards years ago, we want to see what is being captured and processed now.

Our judging process has been developed over several decades of competition experience. Once the first round of judging is completed, we have a score for each entry out of 300, expressed as percentage. We then take the top 10 scoring entries from each of the four categories and ask the judges to confirm their choice of 1st, 2nd and 3rd. When the initial score out of 100 is given, the judges are scoring against a standard of excellence, but when it comes to the final top 10, they are comparing the entries against each other and so this is an important part of a fair process. And finally, the four category winners are presented and the judges choose the overall International Portrait Photographer of the Year.

For the book, we will take the top 10 entries from each category, and then a further 61 top scoring images, weighted for the number of entries in each category (categories with more entries will be more highly represented in this selection). We then check to ensure that there are not two or more photographs that are very similar (we are looking for variety) and there is also a limit on the number of photographs a single entrant can have in the Top 101 - no more than two, just to share the experience around. This produces our Top 101.

You might wonder why some of the prize winning photos are not in the Top 101. It is because of our competition rules. If a photographer entered more than two portraits, only the top two scoring entries are accepted into the Top 101. However, to be eligible for the prizes, we take the top 10 scoring entries in each category and invite the judges to have a second look. Some of the entrants had three or even more portraits in the top 10 of some categories and, while an entry may have had a slightly lower score initially, during the comparative review process outlined above, the judges elevated a lower initial score into the prizes. The judges have no idea what entries scored originally when they run through the review process, plus all six judges have a say, so hopefully this explains why some of the winning images are not also in the Top 101. They didn't miss out, their photographer was already fully represented!

This year we had 948 entries and to be sure of a place in the Top 101, you needed a score of around 82.67%. A graph shows you the distribution of scores.

Our thanks to our wonderful judging team: David Burnett, Charmaine Heyer, Rocco Ancora, Martina Wärenfeldt, Sanjay Jogia and Sarah Ferrara, and our sponsor Momento Pro.

I hope you enjoy a collection of best portrait photographs from around the world in the flip-book below.

A Message for the Entrants

To find out if you made it into the Top 101, view the preliminary flip-book below. There's a list of the top 101 photographers on page 29. If you are in the book, please check the spelling of your name and title - they should be accurate as they are based on the entry form you submitted, but if changes are needed, just let us know!

You can enlarge the flip-book to full screen for easier viewing - see the icon menu under the flip-book.

Once we have ensured everyone's details are correct, plus added in some more information about our category winners, we'll publish the final book and you can also purchase a paper version. We suggest the International Portrait Photographer of the Year 2021 will become a collector's piece as the competition continues to grow.

So, not in the Top 101 this year? How did you go personally in the awards? Very shortly, our online judging system will send you an email with a summary of your results and scores. You will also be able to log onto your account at any time and view your scores there - just login like you did to enter the competition and you will find your results with your entries.

Peter Eastway
Chairman of Judges
International Portrait Photographer of the Year Awards


You can see the finalised Awards book below as a flipbook - please enjoy it. To enjoy it even more, you can purchase a paper copy of the book, available as the lavish 297x297mm version supplied to our winners, or the just as sumptuous but smaller and more economical 210x210mm edition. Details available in our shop very soon.