Celebrating Dads at the National Portrait Gallery

Dad’s are unique – just like works of art. That’s what we think anyway, and we wanted to come up with a special way to show Dads just how much they mean to their loved ones.

We came up with a plan – for one night only, we would host an exclusive exhibition at the prestigious National Portrait Gallery in London, where the Dads of the nation would be hung alongside the likes of David Beckham, Kate Middleton and the Queen.

To find Dads worthy of the honour, we asked PhotoBox fans on social media to share photos of the Dad in their life with us. There were 3 categories – ‘Dad Loves…’, ‘Fun with Dad’ and ‘Favourite photo of Dad’. The first two categories were judged by journalists from the Guardian and the Telegraph, while the final category was judged by hundreds of PhotoBox employees and from our friends at our sister brands Moonpig & Sticky9, everyone had 3 votes each to use wisely.

So we had our winners – what next? Oh not much…we just had to print and create an exhibition in 4 days, no big deal. On Wednesday 10th June, we arrived at the gallery just as the final tourists were leaving for the day, and we watched as it was turned into our very own Dad Gallery – read on to find out more from the winners and see how it turned out on the night…


The entrance to the National Portrait Gallery, plus the view inside the gallery


Our winning customers…


Winners Elysia and Josh (who together, make up Ellie and Josh photography) travelled down from Buxton for the event, and were extremely excited to see their photo ‘Oscar and Josh’  in our Dad Gallery.

The story behind the photo made our hearts melt as well…

‘’Hi I’m Oscar, and this is Josh (he’s the big one) and he has the biggest heart of anyone I know. Even though he’s not my biological Dad, he has always treated me like his own Son. He looks after me whilst my Mum goes to work (she’s a wedding photographer, something she started doing when I was born- she says I am her mini muse!)

He met my Mum when they were both at school and she says that if I grow into half the man that Josh is that she’ll be real proud.

Josh loves lots of things, he loves my mum and he loves climbing, star wars, cups of tea and loads of other stuff I think is boring… but he says the thing that he loves most in the entire world is ME! :D’’


Customer Kathryn Giornail with her Dad’s portrait – ‘1950s Italian in London’

Kathryn’s portrait just screamed ‘cool’ to all of the PhotoBox team, and was one of the most commented on photos during the voting process. Kathryn’s description of the photo made us love it even more…

”My fab dad – over from Italy and hanging out in the Italian area of London in the ’50s. Photo taken opposite Bar Italia – one of his favourite Soho haunts. An iconic photo perfectly capturing the essence of the time. What an era!

My dad is 81 now – such a proud man and still looking great. He has a passion for motorcycles, motorcars, giro helicopters – and – his family. It would be an awesome surprise for his picture to win in the Photobox competition – still a pin up after all these years! Quite something to brag to his mates about.”

Unfortunately, Kathryn’s Dad was unable to attend the event, but she did give him a call during the evening to tell him – he couldn’t quite believe he was hanging in the National Portrait Gallery!


Scott Liddell

Scott’s portrait of his father, titled ‘Bright Eyes’, was one of the winners in the ‘Dad Loves..’ category. Scott travelled all the way from Edinburgh to see the portrait exhibited, and said it was a ‘real privilege to be there’.


Neil & Ellie

Ellie entered a rather colourful shot of her daughter Brooke, with Grandad Neil – there’s was another story that really pulled at our heartstrings, and it was clear to see how proud Ellie was to have her photo displayed in the gallery on the night…

‘’This is my daughter Brooke with her Grandad, Neil. He’s not just any dad, he’s my adoptive Dad. He took me on when I was 9 years old and accepted my daughter when she was born in September 2014. Brooke has such a brilliant bond with her grandad and he’s the only male role model Brooke has had for the last year of her life. The bond between Neil and Brooke’s melts my hearts and I’m forever grateful for what he did for me and my brother when we were little. ’’


Winner Paul Emmett alongside his portrait of his Dad, Laura Smith with her Dad (Graham Thompson) and their portrait ‘Family Man’, Beth and Geoff Clarke with ‘Daddy loves silliness’ and Rebecca & Chris Hankins standing alongside their portrait ‘Love at First sight’, featuring their daughter Layla


Some of the other winning images that were featured in the gallery – Paul McKenna, Jodi Hopkins, Thea McIntosh, Kelly Webb and Judith Sterling 


PhotoBox founder, Graham Hobson, tells the crowd how his Father inspired him to set up PhotoBox, and why Dads are so important!

As well as our winning customers, some of our favourite bloggers – including Liberty London Girl, Fashion Foie Gras, Katie Snooks and The Travel Hack – had their Dad’s on display as well. Celebrity Stylist, Grace Woodward, even came along to surprise her husband with an adorable shot of him with son Larkin, that was featured in the gallery.

BUCK_Photobox_Dads-16 Emily Johnson – Fashion Foie Gras

Emily’s photo was taken at her family home in South Carolina – we love how moody this shot looks. We asked her to tell us a little more about the photo…

‘’I took it at home as my dad walks out onto the end of our dock in a storm. He doesn’t know I’m behind him taking the picture, which somehow makes it all the more special. I’m not sure he’s ever known how lucky I feel to call him my dad, or how often I stand back and watch in awe of what he accomplishes on a daily basis’’


Blogger Katie Snooks sent us this fancy-dress photo of her with her Dad

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Blogger ‘The Travel Hack’, with partner Sam (and baby George in the background!), who got a very special first Father’s Day surprise (photo courtesy of The Travel Hack)


To end the evening, guests were treated to some goody bags featuring gifts from PhotoBox (of course), as well as Bananagrams and Scaramouche and Fandango – a big thank you to both for helping us celebrate all the dad’s that attended!

Stay tuned for our next blog post, where we’ll be sharing a video of the event with you 🙂

With thanks to…The National Portrait Gallery, Mango Pie Events, Metro Imagining , Fanclub PR, Virginija Asakaviciene, BearJam productions, BananaGrams, Scaramouche and Fandango and Mikael Buck

Images courtesy of Mikael Buck


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