A British photographer who captures elite athletes at their moment of peak perfection has won the Grange Prize, the annual $50,000 award for photography given by Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario.

London's Jo Longhurst was named as winner Thursday evening, chosen by public vote ahead of fellow British finalist Jason Evans and two Canadian photographers: Emmanuelle Léonard of Montreal and Annie MacDonell of Toronto.

Each year, the Grange Prize pits two Canadian photographers against two from another country. The other three finalists receive $5,000 each.

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British photographer Jo Longhurst is the 2012 winner of the $50,000 Grange Prize. (Art Gallery of Ontario)

The photography of all four finalists has been on display at the AGO, at Canada House in London and in an online gallery.

Longhurst’s work includes The Refusal, a series on whippets, British show dogs bred to ideal standards. Her most recent series, Other Spaces, explores the physical and emotional experiences of elite gymnasts. Most of her photography focuses on the quest for perfection.

She uses sculptural elements, distortion and multiple images to direct the viewer's attention to the art of photography itself.

Born in Essex, Longhurst trained at the Royal College of Art and has been featured in international shows in London, Paris and Berlin. Her work was selected for this year’s Documenta (13), the prestigious German-based art fair.

As part of her Grange Prize win, Longhurst begins a residency at the AGO next week and remains until Dec. 15. Each of the other finalists also earns a residency: Evans will be in Toronto next spring, while the two Canadians will travel to the U.K. in 2013.

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Jo Longhurst, whose photo Suspension (1) vinyl is seen here, will begin a residency at the AGO as part of her win. (Jo Longhurst/Art Gallery of Ontario)