Alys Tomlinson is an editorial and fine art documentary photographer based in London.

Alys grew up in Brighton and studied English Literature and Communications at the University of Leeds. After graduating, she moved to New York for a year and was given her first commission for Time Out, before returning to London to study photography at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. She later completed an MA in Anthropology of Travel, Tourism and Pilgrimage (Distinction) at SOAS, University of London, which tied in with her long-term, personal project about pilgrimage.

Her first book Ex-Voto was published by GOST Books in 2019 and Lost Summer was self-published in 2020. Her latest project Gli Isolani (The Islanders) was published by GOST Books in 2022. She combines commissioned work for editorial, design and advertising clients with personal work, which she publishes and exhibits.

Alys recently finished work on a feature-length documentary film Mother Vera  co-directed with Cécile Embleton. The film will be released in 2024. 

Her work is collected privately and is in the following collections: National Portrait Gallery (London), The Rencontres d’Arles Collection, The Bodleian Library, AmberSide Collection. 

  • 2023 Locarno Film Festival, Creativity Media First Look Award
  • 2021 Hot Docs Forum, Pitch Prize, 2nd Place (Mother Vera)
  • 2020 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, 1st Prize 
  • 2020 Sundance Institute, Documentary Fund Grantee
  • 2020 Prix Elysée, Musée de l’Elysée, Nominee
  • 2019 Meitar Award for Excellence in Photography, Finalist
  • 2019 Hariban Award, Finalist (Honourable Mention)
  • 2019 Winner of the Public Prize, Rencontres d’Arles,
    Louis Roederer Discovery Award
  • 2019 Prix de la Photo Madame Figaro Arles, Shortlist
  • 2019 Rencontres d’Arles, Louis Roederer Discovery Award
  • 2018 Royal Photographic Society IPE 161 – Silver Award
  • 2018 Sony World Photographer of the Year, overall winner
  • 2018 Sony Professional Grant recipient
  • 2018 BJP/International Photography Award, Shortlist
  • 2018 Sony World Photography Awards, 1st Place,
    Discovery Category
  • 2017 Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, National Portrait Gallery
  • 2017 Hotshoe Award/Renaissance Photography Prize, Winner
  • 2017 Renaissance Photography Prize, Finalist (series)
  • 2016 SOAS Departmental Prize (Anthropology and Sociology)
  • 2016 London International Creative Competition,
    Honourable Mention
  • 2016 Tri-pod/Photofusion Award, Winner
  • 2016 Renaissance Photography Prize, Finalist (series)
  • 2012 Creative Review Photography Annual
  • 2010 Creative Review Photography Annual
  • 2008 PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris, Honourable Mention
  • 2008 Magenta Foundation/Flash Forward, Winner
  • 2007 PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris, Honourable Mention
  • 2007 PDN 30, Photo District News
  • 2006 International Photography Awards (Lucie),
    Honourable Mention
  • 2006 Arts Council England, Grant for Individuals
  • 2005 London Photographic Awards, Winner
  • 2003 Jerwood Photography Award, Shortlisted
  • 2003 Observer Hodge Award, Highly Commended
  • 2003 Peter Kirk Memorial Travel Scholarship
  • 2002 EXIT Magazine, New Talent Award Winner

  • 2024 'UK Women' Ludwiggalerie Oberhausen, Germany
  • 2023 'Gli Isolani' CABIN, Berlin, Germany
  • 2023 'Ex-Voto' Faith Museum, The Auckland Project,
    Bishop Auckland, UK
  • 2022 ‘Gli Isolani (The Islanders) HackelBury Fine Art, London
  • 2021 ‘Youth Rising in the UK’ Side Gallery, Newcastle
  • 2020 Jinan Biennale, Shandong Art Museum, China
  • 2020 Nuit de la Photo, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
  • 2019 ‘The Faithful’ Les Rencontres d’Arles, France
    (solo exhibition, Discovery Award)
  • 2019 ‘Ex-Voto’ Side Gallery, Newcastle (solo exhibition)
  • 2019 ‘Ex-Voto’ HackelBury Fine Art, London (solo exhibition)
  • 2019 ‘Ex-Voto’ Chichester Cathedral, West Sussex 
  • 2018 'Ex-Voto' Sony World Photography Awards,
    Somerset House, London
  • 2017 Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, National Portrait Gallery,
    London (portrait from Ex-Voto)
  • 2017 Made in Brixton, Photofusion, London
  • 2016 Portrait Salon, London
  • 2015 Uncertain States Annual, London (Photomonth)
  • 2015 Emerging, Annenberg Space for Photography,
    Los Angeles, USA
  • 2013 Salon/13 Photofusion, London
  • 2013 ‘24’ Berkeley Square, London
  • 2012 Portrait Salon, London
  • 2010 ‘Open Here’ Hereford Photography Festival
  • 2010 Foto 8 Summer Show, HOST Gallery, London
  • 2010 ‘Why We Love Photography’ HOST Gallery, London
  • 2009 ‘Manual Focus’ The Lloyd Gill Gallery, Somerset
  • 2008 ’24′ The AOP Gallery, London
  • 2006 ‘Stop Moving’ Photodebut Exhibition, London
  • 2006 ‘Film on Film’ The AOP Gallery, London
  • 2006 ‘Dead Time’ Swiss Cottage Gallery, London
    (solo exhibition)
  • 2006 ‘Petites Morts’ The Glasshouse Gallery, London
  • 2005 ‘Portfolio’ The AOP Gallery, London
  • 2004 ’3′ Deluxe Gallery, London
  • 2003 Exposure: Hereford Photography Festival
  • 2003 The Observer Hodge Photographic Award, The Newsroom, London

Selected press

Screen Daily 'Mother Vera Review' Jonathan Romney
Journey Into Cinema 'Mother Vera: Breaking the Habit'
Redmond Bacon

The Guardian 'Where the Wild Things Are'
Sean O'Hagan
British Journal of Photography 'Behind the Mask'
Izabela Radwanska Zhang

Slowness 'Pilgrimage as Practice' interview
The Standard 'Lockdown Prom Portraits Win Taylor Wessing Prize' Robert Dex
The Guardian 'Alys Tomlinson's Best Photograph'
Dale Berning Sawa

Selected podcasts
A Small Voice (Ben Smith)
Cultural Studies (Toby Miller)
The Land Behind (Peter Holliday) 
The Large Format Photography Podcast (Andrew Bartram & Simon Forster)
The Messy Truth (Gem Fletcher)
Fast Forward, Women in Photography (Anna Fox)
Nearest Truth (Brad Feuerhelm)
The Photowalk (Neale James)
A Photographic Life (Grant Scott)
The Standout Photography Show (Matthew Walker) 
The Sound of Photography (Frank Watson)

Visiting lecturer at Central Saint Martins (UAL), Ravensbourne College of Art & Design and LCC (UAL). 

Talks include: The Royal Photographic Society, Martin Parr Foundation, Photo London, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Format PhotoForum, National Portrait Gallery, The Photographers' Gallery and numerous universities. 

2018 ‘Landscapes of pilgrimage and figures of pilgrims: an essay in location and discloation’ paper presented at Art, Materiality and Representation conference at The British Museum/SOAS.

2016 ‘Developing the image: re-­evaluating contemporary photographic practice’ paper presented at Photography in Academic Research conference, UCL.

2014  ‘Pilgrims and passers-by, a photographer’s perspective: anthropological approaches in fine art and documentary photography practice‘ paper presented at Anthropology and Photography conference, The British Museum.


Alys is represented by
HackelBury Fine Art
4 Launceston Place
London W8 5RL

For print sale enquiries:
T: +44 20 7937 8688

If you would like to contact Alys regarding commissions, exhibitions or talks, please email: