flashpoints: a photographic exploration of health across the life course is a photography competition held by RSPH in partnership with the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) in 2017.

The judges included award-winning photographers Chris Steele-Perkins, Sian Davey and Tom Hunter, as well as Professor Stephen Clift, Chair of RSPH's Arts and Health Special Interest Group.

Entries were invited from amateur and professional photographers based in the UK with the aim of collating a selection of photographs which document and evoke the interaction between different stages of our lives and our health and wellbeing.


  • First place: Sorrow by Natasa Balogh
  • Second place: Najma Khalid by David Shaw
  • Third place: King Sized Mattress by Eric Aydin-Barberini

See below for the full shortlist of entries.

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Arrival by Kauser Parveen

The birth of a child into the world instills hope, fear and joy.

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Untitled by Shelby Marie Clemens

This photo was captured in Penzance, UK. My little sister has a life threatening condition called lissencephaly which makes her not talk, walk or eat. She suffers from epilepsy and fits and much more. I love her so much, and as I was watching her she was gazing at the clouds and the sea. She looked happy, and she stood out in the photo; the sky reflected on her like a mirror. Photos like this, are memories that I treasure forever.

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Untitled by David Shaw

Malaika Khalid, a young British girl who is from a Pakistani descent watches the town of Oldham go by. Oldham was named as Britain's most deprived town of 2016 and suffers high levels of poverty which has led to community tensions. Many local British Asian people talk of an identity crisis; they feel that they are British, due to being born and living their lives in the UK, however they often still live in closed Pakistani or Bangladeshi communities, both physically in the town and socially.

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Divergent Pier, Saltburn-by-the-Sea by Robert Herringshaw

The challenge that particular day was to race to the top of the funicular from the beach. Reaching the top first, I suddenly realised I was seeing double. It was two years before I was finally diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, a neuro muscular disease that results in weakness of certain skeletal muscles. Commonly for myasthenia sufferers, it affects the control of the eye muscles and eye lids. This results in diplopia, or double vision. This particular image simulates what I saw that day.

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Punch Like A Girl by Sophie Naddell

One of the younger members of Cambridge University’s Amateur Boxing Club tackles the cold and dark outdoors to train in preparation for the Varsity fight against Oxford. It is only the second year that women have been allowed to compete. With the growing acceptance of women’s boxing comes the defiance of the delicate, sensitive, vulnerable female stereotype, and in its place the image of a powerful, determined, and skillful fighter.

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Young Adulthood – Untitled by Katie Watson

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Untitled by Huw Jones

The children of the new millennium have grown up alongside consumer electronics such as computers and mobile phones which are now omnipresent in our lives. Being accessible 24/7 puts people under more pressure in the workplace; social media shows us how much everyone else is enjoying themselves when we’re at home alone; entertainment at our fingertips makes it all the more easy to stay inside rather than getting up and doing something.

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Cyber-bullying by Lee Morley

Cyber bullying is a product of the digital age where the victims have no escape from their tormentors. With traditional bullying, the victim would have been able to find sanctuary at home or in the presence of adults but through the technology of mobile phones the bullies are able to reach them wherever they are.

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Untitled by Lara Casalotti

At the age of 24, I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, an aggressive blood cancer. This came as a total shock as I had always been very active and healthy and experiencing cancer was never something I thought I would go through at a young age. As I started the intensive chemotherapy my hair quickly began to fall out. I then documented my recovery with weekly, and then monthly photographs for my hair growth. It is incredible how the human body can regenerate.

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Strain by Sam Grant

A self-portrait conveying the fear, pain and anxiety of transitioning from young adulthood to adulthood when suffering from a disability. I drew from my stay in hospital after an unsuccessful operation to sustain full use of my legs, as well as the fear and isolation which results from living with autism, to create an image which reflects the mentality of people now in their 20s having to take on the responsibilities of the real world with mental and physical limitations.”

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Intoxicating But Beware by Wynn Aung

As much as a buddleia's scent is intoxicating to butterflies and bees, sex is a natural intoxicant to most adults. Improved survival among AIDS patients has seen a relaxed attitude towards protected sex. The photo was taken in my back garden with a fully bloomed buddleia and two adjacent blooming buds resembling an erect penis and testicles. The former was sheathed with a freely distributed condom as a simple yet dramatic reminder of the continuing importance of the use of condoms.

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A New Marriage by Martin Nangle

This photo, taken in June 2017, shows how hope can be reinvigorated and new happiness can be found after shock events have disrupted an expected life course. Companionship is crucial to mental and physical wellbeing. When loneliness strikes, ill health can follow, but it’s never too late to spend time with a friend.

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Miracle in the Touch of a Mother by Natasa Balogh

This 64 year old man lost his memory in an accident and suffers from anxiety and multiple sclerosis. He needs 24/7 care. He lives his life bound to a wheelchair. Ceiling hoists, a power pack wheelchair and nursing shifts are required for his everyday care and well-being. But while these things make up for his declining physical ability, nothing can replace the love of a mother. Her warm touches and attention give him peace and a feeling of security.

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Tim by Ameena Rojee

After he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, Tim was forced to stop working as a lawyer. Not knowing what to do, on a whim, he responded to a newspaper advert from a photographer calling for nude models. That was over 10 years ago, and Tim has since been photographed by over 400 photographers. I was honoured to be photographer 405. I decided to strip things back and capture Tim in a more natural and simple setting, setting up an outdoor studio and using the sun as my light source.

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Roy in a Restaurant by Tadhg Devlin

This image is part a collaborative project titled ‘Life Beyond Diagnosis’ between photographer Tadhg Devlin and the Merseyside based SURF (Service User Reference Forum) Dementia network group. "In a restaurant a few years ago, I sat at a table with friends. When the starter was presented in front of me, I didn’t know what to pick up. And I’m trying to hide the stupidity of it from friends because I didn’t know what to do. It was soup of some type, and I remember I picked the soup up..."

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Najma Khalid by David Shaw - 2nd Place

Najma Khalid, a British Pakistani woman from Oldham travels to Buckingham Palace with her mother, Sabar Jan Masood. She was invited to a tea reception with the Queen due to her community work promoting healthy living in the Oldham area. Chai Ladies, a group which was set up by Najma, helps local Asian women with issues such as identity, poverty, religion, gender issues and parenthood through mutual support.

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Sandra’s Light by Lottie Hampson

I photographed my grandma whilst making a project about ageing and the passing of time. Sandra was going through chemotherapy at the time, so her skin is tired and the pigment in her skin is slightly off at times. As well as a study on the physicality of ageing, these images portray a meditation on the emotional side of illness and getting older. The natural light that falls through the window onto fragments of Sandra’s body evokes a feeling of hope, juxtaposed with the ageing body.

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King Sized Mattress by Eric Aydin-Barberini - 3rd place

A number of years ago my grandmother passed away, leaving me and my family to take care of my grandfather who was suffering from cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Caring for my grandfather can be both tiresome and frustrating; as his fading memory and understanding of the world fails him, leading to bouts of anger and confusion. My family moving in with him has allowed him to enjoy a good quality of life, and live out his days in the way my grandmother would have wanted.

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Long Time by Eric Aydin Barberini

A number of years ago my grandmother passed away, leaving me and my family to take care of my grandfather who was suffering from cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Caring for my grandfather can be both tiresome and frustrating; as his fading memory and understanding of the world fails him, leading to bouts of anger and confusion. My family moving in with him has allowed him to enjoy a good quality of life, and live out his days in the way my grandmother would have wanted.

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Would You Care For A Dance? By Nadia Nervo

This photograph was taken at a social dance project for elderly people. I met with elderly people in different ballroom dancing venues over the course of two months, documenting their dancing groups. Popular perceptions of ageing are so often negative. My project seeks to explore a lesser-known side to retirement: that of people in later life enjoying themselves and having fun.

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Sorrow by Natasa Balogh - 1st Place

This photograph depicts the relationship between a mother and daughter. A long life provided opportunities for love, pleasure and many different experiences. Their relationship in the last few years was accompanied by deep compassion and sorrow. The mother, aged 97, was suffering from dementia and increasing physical dependence, requiring 24/7 caring by her daughter, but her character was quite unique and brilliant. Sadly, not long after this picture was taken, she passed away.