FOCUS: Lily Dawson-Punshon | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Alpha Female Winning Portrait by Lily Dawson-Punshon

19-year-old Newcastle College student Lily Dawson-Punshon has been announced as the first winner of a Sony World Photography Award for her incredible recreation of The Girl With The Pearl Earring by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer.

Sony’s World Photography Awards are among the most prestigious in the industry, aiming to recognise emerging talent and showcase contemporary work, and the brand new Alpha Female Award was introduced to celebrate the strength of female photographers. Here, we find out more about Lily and her inspirations…

Who are you?

I am Lily Dawson-Punshon, a social documentary fashion photographer from Gateshead and winner of Sony’s first Alpha Female Award.

What is it you do?

I combine current societal issues and contemporary trends into one format. I am extremely driven by the idea of changing the world through creative expression and attempt to make a difference through lightly political, yet stylistic imagery. I have produced previous work relating to the global pollution crisis, slave labour within the fashion industry and the photo that won the Alpha Female Award was a recreation of the Girl with the Pearl Earring which replaced the earring with an earphone, as a comment on the fast-paced progression of technology. 

How long have you been doing it?

I’ve been interested in photography ever since I was a young child. People and places fascinated me so much, and I loved being able to document my alternative lifestyle being home-schooled by my two mothers. That freedom of expression encouraged me to pursue my passion, whether that has been completing a photography course or taking a chance in publishing my work.

What inspires you?

I have so many sources of inspiration, but the main one which drives me to produce work is the thought that we can make a difference through creativity. Through this we build a strong and powerful like-minded community. I am inspired by people past and present who have fought for freedom, equality and the environment which we live in.

Tell us about your work

I would say that my work is still very much at an experimental stage, which I love! Most of my work centres around current and relevant global issues, but the manner in which I present each topic massively differs from project to project. This is such an exciting stage of my career, as I am really able to focus on the subjects that mean so much to me whilst discovering my own style.

What have you got coming up in the future?

I’m about to finish my photography course at Newcastle College and will be going to university in Leeds later this year to complete a degree in Fashion Photography.

I have recently produced a series of imagery centred around the Covid-19 pandemic. This photo documentary series focuses on the effects of the virus, isolation, loneliness and connection. Over the next few months I hope to get this published as a book and see where that leads. I am also intending to collaborate with more artists and organisations within the near future, which is always an inspirational experience.

Where can people find out more about you?

You can find out about my award win at

My Instagram showcases a selection of my previous and current works and I intend to display a wider selection of imagery on here within the near future @lily_dp_photography

I also absolutely love connecting and communicating with others, so questions and enquiries are always welcome via my business email: [email protected]

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