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Portrait Of Britain Photography Awards Shortlist, Volume 6 - Luana Martignon

It is my greatest pleasure and honour to announce that I am one of the photographers shortlisted for the Portrait Of Britain Awards with the portrait below:

Close up portrait of Poppy, a young naked woman upside down on a swimming pool slide.
Upside Down. (Epping Forest, Essex) 2023

Portrait of Britain is a national portraiture award celebrating the many faces of modern Britain - they are organised by the British Journal of Photography.

The shortlisted photographers' work will be published in a book printed by Bluecoat Press and sponsored by JCDecaux.

When I found out, I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate this milestone in my career than giving Poppy, the incredible young woman portrayed in my photo, a chance to share her story and her following journey working with me.

Everything below was written by Poppy and I have her permission to share it.

TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual assault, rape, suicide, mental health.

The following blog also included images of full nudity.


Poppy's Life Experience

"A few years ago, I was called up in the night by a friend who told me he was not okay and needed me to come over, I rushed over to his and he raped me. There was a lot that followed after the assault itself. My rapist commit suicide the next day. A lot of people began to blame me for his death. I received death threats and someone attempted to beat me up. I became very unstable for a while. I had been sexually assaulted before this particular case and felt as though there must be something wrong with me if that happened more than once. But slowly, and in time, I began to recover. There was light at the end of the tunnel and I could see that I was not defined by the harmful things other people did to me: I am Poppy, I am a keen activist, I am a talented actor, I have ADHD (which for me means that there are certain things I excel in) and most of all ‐ I am a force to be reckoned with".

Photo of woman from the back: she is wearing a leather jacket that says "I am a slut for equal rights"

Leading Women's Rights Protests

"I think a very pivotal moment for me was when I led my first protest. Sarah Everard had been killed and there was a lot of talk about sexual assault in and around the University I was at. I decided I wanted to lead a protest, I found a group of people who also wanted to do the same, and together we spoke in front of hundreds of strangers about assault. I shared my story publicly for the first time ever. I felt that if by sharing what happened to me, I could potentially help even one other person, it would be worth it. I started a dialogue, and after that, I knew I couldn't stay quiet about it".

Details of "My Body My Choice" sign being written. You can see a paint palette full of old paint too.
Poppy doing an "in-person" exercise, connected to her activism and experience.
Poppy holding a sign that she made. It says "My body my choice"

Regaining body confidence and nurturing Self-Love

"I decided to have an Intimate Portrait Experience with Luana because I have been trying to repair the relationship with my body.

For a while, after the assault, I really resented my body. I was on a journey of learning how to love myself again. I wanted to be thankful for how strong my body is, and how it has carried me through all of my life, both the good and the bad. When I saw Luana's work I was in awe of the realness of the photos, they were so striking.

I knew that by seeing my body, captured through the lens of someone who doesn't hide peoples 'flaws' and 'imperfections', but rather shows you how beautiful all of your body is, from every detail on your skin to the shapes it makes when sitting or standing. I knew it would be so confidence-boosting. And it was."

Detail of woman body. Scar on her arm. Out of focus tattoo on her leg.

Feedback about the Intimate Portrait Experience

"Luana gave me some homework to do before our home session together. It was really emotive and raw, it really helped me to be in the right mindset for the shoot. It gave me time to reflect and think about forgiving my body. It was a really important part of the process and something I have never done before a shoot. It was a unique way to connect with myself.

During your shoot, Luana took the time to make me feel comfortable and get to know each other. It felt like spending time with a friend rather than getting naked for a stranger! It was very empowering. It was a safe space where we could laugh, cry and create art. I have never done a shoot like it."

Photo of young woman reflected in a mirror.

"When I got to see the final images, I was overcome with joy. Seeing the images really did move me. I saw my body as soft but strong. Getting to see so many photos of myself where I could appreciate the things that make me, me. All of the details on my body became artwork. My armpit hair – that on occasion I still feel awkward when strangers stare at – looked feminine and lush. The tattoos I have collected along the way – some silly and meaningless – all tell stories of different chapters in my life and remind me of different moments I have lived through. My body in water – I thought I looked like a fairy – the photos were so ethereal. I felt beautiful."

The long-term benefits of a body-confidence shoot

"I'd be lying if I said that after a bad day, I don't go through the photos. They are reminders of how strong and unique I am. I am someone who is here to try to dismantle the patriarchy, support those who need it, and on occasion, get fully naked for a photoshoot. Doing the shoot is a testament to my bravery. I carry that with me on a daily basis – and having had this experience (plus the photos to hand) is the best reminder of this when I'm not feeling so confident."

The reaction following the Portrait of Britain shortlist announcement

"I am not surprised Luana was shortlisted for Portrait of Britain, as her work is so captivating.

I am however incredibly honoured that it was a photo of me that was chosen. Perhaps this can lead to more people seeing their strength and beauty too."


Thank you for reading Poppy's story and experience. We both really appreciate it.

If you feel like you, your business or someone you know could benefit from working with me, please get in touch. I always offer a FREE introduction call, as a way to connect, get to know each other and give me a chance to answer your question.

Speak soon.


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