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Schools Photography Competition

Schools Photography Competition

Schools Photography Competition

Take inspiration from Beaton’s photography

Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things brings to life the extravagant, eccentric, glamorous and creative world of the ‘Bright Young Things’ of the twenties and thirties. Taking inspiration from Beaton’s photography, we are asking our Instagram followers to create their own portrait, inspired by one of the following themes:


Exhibition supported by


Noel Coward Foundation


The Themes

  • Costume and Masquerade: Beaton often attended extravagant parties and pageants, designing costumes for his friends and acquaintances. Have fun dressing up. Capture yourself or your friends and family in creative costumes made from everyday items.

  • Fashion and style: Beaton photographed for some of the world’s leading fashion magazines, including Vogue. Create images to evoke current trends and/or your own personal style.

  • Props: As a teenager, when taking photographs of his younger sisters Nancy and Baba, Beaton would use everyday items as props to create glorious backdrops for his portrait photographs. Transform everyday materials into glamorous accessories. Be inventive with props and backdrops to tell a story in your photograph.

  • Performance: Whether capturing well-known performers, or finding artistic inspiration in the performances taking place around him, the idea of performance was central to Beaton’s portraiture. Perform for the camera – create a character or capture a talented friend or family member and record this performance with photography.

  • Self-Portraits: Alongside portraits of his family, friends and celebrities Beaton also made many self-portraits. From a young age, he used mirrors and props to present himself as an artist at work in his studio, and transformed his appearance using costumes, wigs and makeup into fabulous theatrical alter-egos. Consider how to create and present a self-portrait photograph. What aspects of yourself would this image explore? Show yourself as an artist at work with your camera, or play with the idea of identity and dressing up.

The Categories

25 and Over Competition: #BYTComp

Under 25s Competition: #BYTCompU25

If you are entering the U25s competition, consider the idea of modern youth culture. Taking your lead from the themes above (Costume and Masquerade; Fashion and Style; Props; Performance and Self-Portraits) think about the following - Who are your 2020 ‘Bright Young Things’? Is there a famous face or a talented friend or family member you admire? Do they act as a source of creative inspiration? If so, try to incorporate them into your entry!


Submission of images is not via Instagram. Teachers are invited to send the Gallery their students images. Click here to receive details of how to enter

How to enter

Follow @nationalportraitgallery on Instagram. If you do not already have an Instagram account, you will need to download the app to your smartphone or tablet and register for free.

You can take your photo portrait using a camera, phone or tablet. Filters and other effects may be applied, but are not essential.

Simply post your entry using the correct hashtag to be in with a chance of having your work on display at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Caption the photograph with a title, your full name and category # (see above), and upload to Instagram.

Please note: if your Instagram account is private, we will not be able access your entry.

The deadline for submissions is 9.00 Monday 18 May 2020.

There is a further category for schools. Contact [email protected] to register your interest and receive an entry form. Or alternatively click here for more information.


Entries will be judged by Exhibition Curator Robin Muir and Photographer Tim Walker.


The winning portraits will be shared online

Terms and conditions

All entries can be taken using either a camera, smartphone or tablet.

The competition is limited to 5 entries per person.

Images must be produced in response to the exhibition Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things and the criteria outlined in the above text, and must be identifiable as portraits.

By submitting your work, you confirm that your contribution is your own original work, is not defamatory and does not infringe any UK laws and that you have the consent of a parent / guardian for anyone under eighteen who is identifiable in your contribution. Proof of consent for anyone under the age of eighteen will need to be supplied by all shortlisted photographers (please use the following consent form*).

By entering the competition, you confirm that the National Portrait Gallery may reproduce images for the purposes of marketing and promotion, including use on the Gallery website and social media sites.

All entries must be submitted by Midday Monday 18 May. Entries received after this time will not be eligible for consideration.

No cash alternative.

The Gallery reserves the right to substitute the prize with one of similar value at its own discretion.

The Gallery also reserves the right to withdraw or amend the competition as necessary due to circumstances outside its control.

Employees of the National Portrait Gallery their families, agents or anyone else connected with the competition are not permitted to enter.

image credit: Cecil Beaton (detail) by Paul Tanqueray, 1937. National Portrait Gallery, London. © Estate of Paul Tanqueray.