FIRST PRIZE – CHRISTOPHER PUGMIRE

“The humble recreational activity of going to the beach is universal but also specific to each place, and here the photographer reveals the local hybrid vehicular version of it. When photographing in a foreign place it can be tempting to concentrate on “what’s different” rather than “what’s the same”, but the most layered and revealing photographs are often the result of balancing those two opposing points of view. The photographer here delivers surprise and familiarity in equal measure in this beautifully executed picture of modernity on the shores of the Persian Gulf.” – Greg Girard

SECOND PRIZE – NICOLAS DIGARD

“Instinctively we understand that the gaze of the statue of Buddha used to look out across an unpeopled landscape. Mongolia’s emptiness, like almost everywhere in the developing world, is being encroached on by increasing urbanization. The photographer frames the scene to include the traces of the inhabited world on the landscape, rather than show the statue in false isolation. The Buddha statue and the unfinished apartment blocks float in the whiteness, the tension in the composition enabled by the snow and pale sunlight. Scruffiness and natural beauty share the frame in this photograph, an acceptance of the world as it is, both a document and a poem.” – Greg Girard

OSCAR MATA

“Surrounded by bodies but very much alone, Oscar captures a quiet, poignant moment amongst a group of tourists captivated by something out of frame. It’s a welcome perspective – focusing on the visitors, rather than the attraction – and all the more so with the contrasts present. Bright fabrics, designer handbags and pearl necklaces jarring with the dirt mound upon which they perch. It’s a fascinating cultural document, and one that has just a touch of the satire of Martin Parr’s ‘Small World’ about it.” – Life Framer

CÉDRIC HOUIN

“This is a stunning portrait of Shila, a young girl living with her family in the remote mountains of the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan, at an elevation of almost 5000m. Captured in a formal sitting, with dark, rich tones and soft lighting that channel the style of renaissance oil paintings, Cédric subverts the precedent – giving import and grandeur to a girl with little, with an artistic treatment historically reserved for the rich and powerful. With her big dark eyes and metallic sequins glistening in the darkness, it’s the dirt around her mouth that is so telling – both that Shila doesn’t come from wealth, and that she is playful and messy, like all children should be. Celebrating lives lived in the most isolated of locations, Cédric offers a different view of Afghanistan to the one so regularly portrayed in Western media – one that’s beautiful, innocent and hopeful.” – Life Framer

SNEZHANA VON BÜDINGEN

“In this remarkable environmental portrait we see an ‘ice swimmer’ in Snezhana’s hometown of Perm – his pink flesh and black kit standing out against the unrelenting grey of snow, ice, sky and concrete. By stepping back, Snezhana positions him as just one element of an environment, and with it posits an interesting idea; that her subjects are shaped by the hardness, coldness and emptiness of their surrounding world, as much as they may use this act as a means of escaping it. The feat of swimming in these freezing waters is shown to be at once something extraordinary and very normal – something we’re happy to experience only vicariously through the medium of photography!” – Life Framer

ISIK KAYA

“At first glance, Isik’s image of palm trees in the low evening night is pleasant – well framed and with alluring deep blue and green hues picked out with orange – if not remarkable. But linger a little longer… the central tree splitting the frame is taller, straighter, and in fact not a tree at all but rather a man-made imposter – a cell phone tower disguised to blend in with its surroundings. It makes for an interesting comment on both the ubiquity of communications technology in the modern world, and on the shifting role of the natural world in the digital age.” – Life Framer

ROBERTO DE LA TORRE

“A jolt of color against the natural hues of his surroundings, Roberto presents a “cultural construction” as he calls it, a portrait from a documentary series examining masked rituals in rural areas of Europe that have been passed down for generations. It raises interesting questions, particularly around cultural preservation and the importance of ancestral rites in a world where they may be seen as increasingly irrelevant to the machinations and belief systems of the modern day. The deep spiritual connections may have faded, but the drama remains, acting as a reminder of the importance of celebration and storytelling.” – Life Framer

KLAUS RICHTER

“Captured with beautiful lighting that carefully accentuates the battered car body work and face of the scene’s central subject, Klaus tells a story not of travel necessarily, but of a longing to escape. The young boys (the third almost obscured entirely in the darkness), his statement tells us, are from the Roma community in western Hungary. Caught in that liminal time between youthhood and adulthood, they observe Klaus wearily – perhaps with the means to travel, but nowhere yet to go. Klaus describes the idea of a metaphorical travel – between the domains of the Roma and the majority – and it’s captured here beautifully, at a time where his subjects begin to explore your boundaries, and place in the world.” – Life Framer

YOSHUA ALPHA BUANA

“In many ways the quintessential travel image, Yoshua captures a Sadhu – a holy person in Hinduism who has renounced the worldly life – on a boat trip in the Ganges near Varanasi in India. Using low framing and the planks of wood to draw our eye through the composition to the central subject, Yoshua captures him flanked by birds and staring outwardly in the hanging mist. It feels like a privileged, intimate moment, almost ethereal in its sense of calm.” – Life Framer

MILAD SAFABAKHSH

“Playing with the repeating motif of the ‘skyline’ hiding construction work behind, Milad presents what feels like an endless conveyor belt of business people, heads down, dressed in black, marching through this airport environment – the aspirational scene they walk past at odds with the soulless, clinical setting they pass through. Milad’s image responds to the theme in a literal sense, but also explores grander ideas – of the interminable forces that make the global, modern economic wheels of our world keep turning.” – Life Framer

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