Spud diamonds: these are the winners of Potato Photographer of the Year 2021

A version of Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' with a potato head
(Image credit: Erin Mari)

Yes, we've seen the Sony World Photography Awards, iPhone Photography Awards and many others crown their winners this year – but for those prefer their photography to come with a strong side of carbs, the Potato Photographer of the Year is the most prestigious competition around.

Fortunately, the "world's only international potato photography competition" returned in 2021 and has just announced its spectacular winning entries. All of the competition's proceeds go the Trussell Trust to provide food for people locked in poverty, and the winning entry from William Ropp has landed the photographer a prize bundle that includes a Fujifilm X-T200 and a year's 'Master' subscription to Photocrowd.

According to organizer Ben Brain, who also formed part of the expert panel of judges, the competition was inspired by photographer Kevin Abosch's photo of a potato, which sold for $1 million in 2016. This apparently "confirmed the appetite for potato-based art" and no doubt afforded him a lifetime's supply of spuds.

While that may have been the peak for potato photography, the ten winning entries from this year's competition certainly give it a run for its money – and who knows, maybe one day they'll too hit the jacket-pot. Here they are in all their delicious, carby glory: 

Potato Photographer of the Year 2021 winners:

Winner: Fish & Chips by William Ropp

A potato and fish head

(Image credit: William Ropp)

Shot with just a Polaroid camera and a flashlight, 'Fish & Chips' was apparently a "challenge from a friend who after following art school courses ended up as a potato seller”, says the photographer William Ropp.

The judges certainly agreed that he rose to the challenge. “There's something extremely wonderful and weird about this work," remarked judge Amy D’Agorne.  "The amalgamation of vegetables and animals creates a strange portrait of the everyday food we consume".

Fellow judge Benedict Brain agreed, adding that "there's a wonderfully surreal element to this image with dark undertones but also a touch of humor, an interesting combo, that maybe speaks to the times we live in."

Second place: Precious Potato by Clair

Top-down view of potatoes on a tablecloth

(Image credit: Clair)

A touching ode to a great grandmother's potato-powered nurturing skills, this shot is about Jean, who is in her late 90s and has raised four children, according to the photographer Clair. Judge Ben Brain commented that "the wonderfully simple and delicate approach to this image has been beautifully handled”.

"For most of her life she has cooked and cared for her family, feeding them traditional nutritious meals, she appreciates the simplicity of the humble potato and how it can feed many around her ever-growing table," says Clair. "Many things in Jeans' lifetime have altered, except for the classic potato.”

Third place: Hands Holding New Potatoes by John Glover

Hands cradling some potatoes

(Image credit: John Glover)

A more classic potato portrait, this simple monochrome shot strips the spud down to its spiritual essence.

One of the Potato Photographer of the Year judges is legendary British documentary snapper Martin Parr, and he remarked: "I love the simplicity of this as the gardener proudly shows off their homegrown spuds."

Fourth place: My Potato Necklace by Clair

A portrait of a girl with a potato necklace

(Image credit: Clair)

This portrait of a girl wearing a potato necklace has a little more depth to it than you might initially assume. "I have heard of some old myths of a necklace of potatoes being used to cure a cold or fever. I wonder if the photographer was playing with this myth through their pairing of the potato necklace with the doilie?” said judge Amy D’Agorne.

Either way, it's an original take that's nicely executed. “This is a beautiful portrait in its own right," added Amy D’Agorne. "The photographer plays with both humor and intrigue with the added necklace of potatoes."

Fifth place: Potato Ketchup by Steve Caplin

A jar of potato ketchup on a table

(Image credit: Steve Caplin)

We've heard of blackberry ketchup and bacon ketchup, but potato ketchup? It isn't one we've seen at the local world food markets, but there's a good reason for that.

Firstly, it would make for a terrible ketchup. And also it isn't real – according to photographer Steve Caplin, this shot was "made with Potatoshop".

Sixth place: The Potato In Motion by SpudWhite

A potato photographed at 1-millisecond intervals

(Image credit: SpudWhite)

You may have seen the pioneering work of Eadweard Muybridge, whose experiments in photographing motion in the 1870s resulted in the seminal "The Horse in Motion" image sequence. Well, this is the long-awaited, potato-based follow-up.

“Photographing a potato at 1-millisecond intervals reveals that they are in a constant state of chaotic movement”, remarked the photographer SpudWhite. And the judges were certainly impressed too, stating that "sometimes photographic pastiches seem labored, but the wit and technical sophistication employed have made it an original piece in its own right. A homage to Muybridge, of course, but a creative work of irreverence too”.

Seventh place: The Screaming Potato by Erin Marie

The Scream painting featuring a potato

(Image credit: Erin Marie)

Listen carefully to a potato, and you'll hear the muffled aural equivalent of Edvard Munch's 'The Scream'. To help highlight this, Erin Marie created a new version of the classic painting using potato peels dipped in acrylic paint and a carved potato. 

The judges were suitably impressed by the efforts. “The peelings replicate the brush strokes in Munch's painting brilliantly and the potato face has the same haunting quality. I hope this is one of a series!”, said judge Angela Nicholson.

Best of the rest

Mark Wilson
Senior news editor

Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at both TechRadar and Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.