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The Story Behind the Camera - World Photography Day

19th Awst 2021

Over the last year, The National Lottery has photographed a wide variety of inspiring people and wonderful places across the UK. Throughout the pandemic, National Lottery-funded organisations across the UK have gone above and beyond to support their communities and we have celebrated their work through a number of exciting campaigns with support from high-profile photographers. Today, to celebrate World Photography Day, we are to revisiting some of these brilliant photographs in order to retell the inspiring stories of the people behind the images.

In November 2020, eight of the UK’s most iconic art galleries came together to present a unique photography exhibition where the subjects weren’t celebrities or historical figures, but instead the unheralded everyday champions of the arts sector. The exhibition, titled ‘The National Lottery’s 2020 Portraits of the People’ honoured 13 artistic champions for making a significant difference to lifting people’s spirits during the pandemic. To make the exhibition even more exciting, the photographs were taken by celebrity photographer Chris Floyd, who has photographed the likes of Sir Paul McCartney and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Floyd commented on the commission, “All of the people we are meet in this exhibition have done something special to help keep the soul of their community alive in these difficult and dark times. They have created work and projects specifically designed to fulfil that need for communal strength using the power of the arts. My aim was to document each of them in a way that showcases and honours that sense of integrity and fortitude, as well as their humour and joie de vivre.”

Mojisola Elufowoju, by Chris Floyd

Meet Mojisola Elufowoju she is the Founder, CEO and Artistic Director of Utopia Theatre Company, the leading African theatre company in the UK, and is passionate about the growth and development of ethnic minorities in the theatre industry.

Growing up in Nigeria, Moji was initially discouraged from studying for the stage and came to the craft as a mature student. Now working with artists within Sheffield and nationally, Utopia Theatre commissions writers and produces plays focused on telling the stories of Africans in diaspora, dispelling stereotypes and giving visibility to often overlooked narratives.

“We all know the power of theatre,” states Moji. “It holds a mirror to society and allows people to see each other in a different light. The history of this country influences the history of Africa, in any case, so when you are telling the stories of Africans in the diaspora you are telling the stories of the UK. Our work is essentially a fusion of western theatre practices with traditional African storytelling.”

Meet Abbie Canning, she has been supporting children who are on the autistic spectrum through digital visual arts. Her charitable organisation ‘Q Club’ in Derby offers a vital creative outlet to youngsters on the autistic spectrum with a wide range of support needs, including those not in mainstream education and those confined to their home. During lockdown, Abbie hosted online digital creative sessions to tackle feelings of isolation and loneliness that many faced. Sessions included photography, animation, and digital play, as part of a range of arts and crafts activities.

"Art helps us learn about ourselves and others,” notes Abbie, who also has a son with autism. “To experience the world in new ways and open our minds. There are so many different art forms that people can access, so it's about allowing participants to find the thing that really works for them.”

You can view more portraits in this series via:

In June 2021, The National Lottery commissioned award-winning photographer Tom Oldham to capture a portrait series celebrating people revisiting their ‘happy places’ following the easing of lockdown in the UK, to celebrate the return of of National Lottery Open Week.

Subjects included double Olympic boxing champion, Nicola Adams OBE, at the Fight for Peace Academy boxing ring in London; ex Liverpool and England star John Barnes MBE, reminiscing at Wembley Stadium; and British swimmer and Olympic hopeful, Daniel Jervis, back in the Wales National Pool in Swansea. The series also includes architect Akiko Kobayashi in her beloved Collective art gallery in Edinburgh; local wildlife photographer, Tal Chohan, at RSPB Sandwell in Birmingham; and writer and film director, Marley Morrison, at the BFI Southbank, London.

Tom at Strawberry Hill House, by Tom Oldham

Created by Horace Walpole in the 18th century, Strawberry Hill is internationally famous as Britain’s finest example of domestic Georgian Gothic revival architecture.

Keen gardener, Tom, who is 52 years old and lives locally with his sister and her family, has been tending to the gardens of Strawberry Hill since 2016. Tom credits Strawberry Hill as his ‘happy place’, a place his friends also come to visit and where everybody is treated equally.

Akiko at Collective Gallery, by Tom Oldham

Collective is a fascinating site with a rich history of astronomy, time-keeping and, more recently, art. The gallery offers insight into some of the remarkable stories, discoveries, and personalities which have shaped Calton Hill and made their influence felt across the globe over the past 200 years.

Akiko explains why contemporary art gallery, Collective, is her happy place, "The place makes me feel awe-inspired and makes me feel rooted both in the city and in the wider landscape at the same time. You can see the weather coming across from surrounding areas, and the saturated colours on Arthur's Seat are quite surreal when the sun shines!”

You can view more portraits in this series at:

Each week National Lottery players raise £36 million for projects across the UK making vital projects like these possible.