Shortlist, The Women of HMP Foston Hall by Richard Ansett
"My desire to understand my own place in the world has led to a fascination with other people’s lives, so when I was commissioned by British television network Channel 4 to work with the documentary filmmaker Paddy Wivell to photograph the inmates at HMP Foston Hall in Derbyshire, England, it led to a natural and meaningful collaboration. I worked closely with each subject to find a visual language to communicate to the outside world the effects of their incarceration, and how they try to make sense of their lives inside. I have kept the captions purposefully short, and left out details of the crimes these women are being punished for, in the hope that anyone viewing the work will see the person first. Regardless of their crimes, these women have basic human needs that deserve to be met. The project has exceeded my expectations of photography as a medium, and has made me more aware of the power of portraiture to convey the value of a life. It’s a way of saying ‘we see you’. There is a sense that I’m carrying their message over the walls and into the outside world."