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Kilburn photographer wins BJP Portrait of Britain Award with powerful shot of Black Lives Matter protest

PUBLISHED: 15:54 01 September 2020

Award winning Kilburn photographer Brunel Johnson

Award winning Kilburn photographer Brunel Johnson

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A Kilburn photographer who has shot football stars has won the very first competition he has entered.

BJP Portrait of Britain's winning shot of a Black Lives Matter protester by Kilburn photographer Brunel JohnsonBJP Portrait of Britain's winning shot of a Black Lives Matter protester by Kilburn photographer Brunel Johnson

Brunel Johnson’s portrait of a Black Lives Matter (BLM) protester has seen him scoop the BJP Portrait of Britain Award Book Cover.

The 28-year-old studied pure mathematics at university and “never really set out to become a photographer” but the medium has entered his soul.

His winning images were taken during the BLM protest in London on the June 6.

“I wanted to capture people in their moment and emotion while telling their reason for joining the protest.

Kilburn photographer Brunel Johnson won the BJP Portrait of Britain 2020Kilburn photographer Brunel Johnson won the BJP Portrait of Britain 2020

“The win highlights to me that perseverance, determination and patience can oversee any obstacle and that anything is possible,” he said.

“If you’d asked me three years ago about photography or where I’d be, I would have laughed and called you crazy.”

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Brunel said his career “just happened by accident”.

“Prior to 2017 I had no interest in it whatsoever but at a charity event the photographer who was hired cancelled last minute and I stood up saying “how hard can it be to take a photo?”

“After a few shots I was in love with photography due to the mathematics involved in taking photos - the timing, balancing of iso, aperture and shutter speed to get the correct exposure, composition and geometry.”

He spent a year teaching himself around the estate where he lived and experimented with different situations and times.

“I wanted to tell a story through my images and show the world through the lens of a black guy from inner city London.

A world where most wouldn’t class you a photographer because you didn’t look the part.

“Photography brings about all the techniques of survival used growing up in estates or rough areas in London and turns it into an art.”

Brunel realised he could make a living when Timberland asked him to shoot their winter campaign in Amsterdam. Adidas then asked him to shoot Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala, Paul Pogba and Mohammed Salah for a global football campaign.

“My dream is to use my camera as a mean to fight injustice, to bring to the forefront the voices and faces of the people not being heard and to also show the world how I and many people from similar backgrounds like me view it.


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