We’re delighted to present the results of our final theme of Life Framer Edition V, judged by Alison Morley – Chair of the Documentary Photography and Photojournalism Program at the world-renowned International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York.

By removing the restrictions of any particular theme or narrative direction, an Open Call creates space for all sorts of strange and wonderful photography that might not find a home under a specific topic. But it also creates a challenge – how does a judge form their selection without the bearings of a theme to guide them? How do they arrive at a cohesive selection of images? The answer of course is to focus only on the universal qualities of good photography – technical execution, storytelling and originality – and to celebrate quite the opposite of cohesion: diversity. And so we find here a selection of 20 thematically and stylistically varied images that stand alone for their skilled production, interest and creativity, and that between them represent an absorbing collation of contemporary photography.

Congratulations to the selected photographers and to everyone else: enjoy!

Join the discussion on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and thank you to everyone who submitted their work.


“The photograph of the young refugee unfolds slowly as you allow your eyes to go beyond the swath of arms surrounding the focal point — creating an urgency to get to the epicenter. When you do, there is a huge payoff. You see a frightened child looking up, pleading for justice, safety or maybe just love. The multiple chaotic arms symbolize the care that is desperately needed for these traumatized children—regardless of where they are from or going. The circle of the head within the circle of the arms makes for compelling testimony to the power of an image. It needs to be seen large to fully appreciate, its breath-taking urgency, almost a still life within a journalistic moment.” – Alison Morley


“The photograph of the couple is exquisitely composed and lit. There is a stillness to this image that draws you in slowly and stirs thoughts of the Van Morrison song, Hymns to the Silence. Upon further investigation, one quietly finds the white cable that locks to the woman’s ears and extends unseen to her phone. The man has no such connection to the music within the woman. They are basically on different planets but rely on gesture and position to ascertain their closeness. Still but not silent is this beautiful portrait of two young people. It may appear ordinary at first, but the soft light of the day carries a sensual experience to a modern-day romance, marked in time by a white cord.” – Alison Morley


“Taken from their series Last of Exotic – a fictional photographic archive of human life on earth, presented as authentic anthropographic records – Cristina and Lilli present a gorgeously produced and executed image of fictitious tribes-children. Against a forested backdrop, and with their striking bodypaint, loincloths and sticks, one can’t but help but think of Lord of the Flies. The baby held aloft centrally adds a further layer of intrigue – what happened to the adults? It feels both wonderfully free and innocent, and strangely disquieting. Are we witnessing something idyllic or anarchic? In a post-truth age when fact is no longer sacrosanct, the concept of their project provides an interesting and layered social comment. And likewise when photographers such as Jimmy Nelson are at the center of controversies around inaccurate representation and even exploitation of indigenous communities, it’s both refreshing and provocative to see a group of white people portrayed in this manner.” – Life Framer


“With swathes of fiery color against a flat, makeshift backdrop, Matei creates a dynamic, expressive and somewhat oblique portrait – a surface beauty that is hard to dig beneath. Reading into his statement is illuminating – he works with Swiss prisoners on-site, swapping their prison uniforms for unique fashion pieces, and photographing them in a bid to re-instate some individual identity in a world where it is consciously removed. Swiss law restricts him from showing their faces, and so an anonymity must persist, cleverly navigated by photographer and subject through pose. In this context the plain backdrop becomes symbolic of the prisoners’ restriction and isolation, and the color and movement of a beautiful, fleeting freedom. It’s an intriguing and creative response to the social and moral questions of incarceration.” – Life Framer


“Miltiadis uses the cyanotype process to powerful effect, creating a minimal and striking visual representation of the environmental crisis of ocean pollution. We see mountains of trash silhouetted below the waves – stark white against the rich blue water, a powerful iconography to describe a global issue in an absorbing and accessible way. Cyanotypes are often beautiful, but here a cohesiveness of method and message creates something memorable.” – Life Framer


“In this dramatic – seemingly composite – analog image we see a man on the verge of being engulfed by a desert storm – silhouetted in the empty whiteness behind, and dwarfed by the vast pillar of sand that looms over him. With the heavy grain and various imperfections across the frame it feels enigmatic and a little unreal – like old doctored newspaper images that would fool thousands. Tomasz’s statement, in which he describes the image coming from a project that explores “our relationship to what is beyond our comprehension” only heightens this mystery. It feels scary, but also slyly humorous. With his hands held aloft, lost and helpless, it something that from a figurative perspective we can all relate to.” – Life Framer


“Taken from his series Borderland, this image from CM’s journey along the US-Mexico border comes from a personal place but has an inevitable political edge. We see the great American emblems – the Stars and Stripes, Lady Liberty, the very word “Freedom” – just tantalizing out of reach from the Mexican side where we presumably stand. And what do we get? Just arid and sparse desert rock and shrubs. CM constructs a frame so subservient to stereotype that it can’t help but feel deeply satirical. Even the American clouds seem to be smiling at us! It’s a brilliant shrewd frame – a subversion of clichés and media rhetoric to produce something quite wonderful.” – Life Framer


“In Greg’s series ‘Here Among the Flowers’ he explores femininity in men and its relationship with the concept of ‘toxic masculinity’ – something which has been so pervasive in recent times. For this exquisite portrait he captures a young man against a backdrop of foliage, shooting him undressed and from above to create a heightened sense of vulnerability. It subtly confronts our stereotypes – bare chests and tattoos often seen as cultural signifiers for machismo, jewellery as something womanly… His tattoo – “boys don’t cry” – visible just below the collarbone, offers a further wry take on the complexity of the male psyche. With a harmonious palette of colors and tight depth of field Greg creates a gorgeous, poetic and contemplative image.” – Life Framer


“Exploring the “contours of materialistic desire and its relationship with the pursuit of happiness” as she describes in her statement, Anabela presents an intriguing, open-ended image. Draped in a pale neon light, this woman sits examining an idealised version of beauty, the blue sky on her TV screen perhaps representative of that heavenly, unreachable perfection that is sold to us as consumers. It hints towards very contemporary ideas, but the dated technology provides a nostalgic edge. It’s an interesting combination that results in something highly stylized and engaging.” – Life Framer


“This is a startling composition painted in muted tones – these two huge sculptural elephant heads being lifted by crane against a sparse, dusty backdrop. From a literal perspective it’s engaging – where is this, and what exactly are we witnessing? – but it’s the metaphorical interpretation that lingers: by carefully constructing the frame, focusing as much on what to hide as what to show, Massimo creates a sad world ravaged by pollution, where we build giant memorials to species long since wiped off the planet. In a way it seems allegorical for our age.” – Life Framer


“With its strong diagonal composition and dramatic cropping of the central subject’s head from the frame, James presents a confidently executed image where color and feeling hold more weight than direct representation. In its limited palette – the clear, colorless water, black loungers and crimson skin tones – James subverts summer holiday clichés (Tanned legs! Cocktails!) to find something satisfying and novel.” – Life Framer


“This is a wonderfully assured portrait of an interesting subject. With her sophisticated tortoise-shell glass and pearl earrings juxtaposed with a zipped-up sports jumper, she exudes both an elegance and a clumsiness. It’s a conveys a message to not take things at face value, to not pigeon-hole and stereotype perhaps. Reading Sirli’s statement adds a further depth and tenderness to the image – it coming from a series of portraits of her mother Eha, the project used as a bond between mother and daughter, and to help Eha deal with her depression.” – Life Framer


“Simultaneously beautiful and destructive, fire can make for a mesmerising subject in image-making. Ada creates something strange and claustrophobic – the first flames starting to lick up this car interior as water rains down outside. Part of you urges to escape, another to watch it unfold, and it’s this inherent tension that makes the image so enticing.” – Life Framer


“Shot with a technical excellence, this is a captivating environmental portrait of Henriette’s subject – the sculptor perhaps? – sat nude amongst these striking wooden carvings. Nude and vulnerable, he sits eyes closed and still, seemingly lost in thought and in harmony with the figures that surround him. It’s a privileged, intimate view into his world – one not without substantial challenge no doubt – and feels like a celebration of his disability and the body in its innumerable forms.” – Life Framer


“With bold framing, confident direction and intriguing, expressive body art, Nedim creates a memorable, theatrical image built on dualism, that seems to channel ideas both old and new.” – Life Framer


“Eunjae’s statement describes the origins of her image – in response to, or perhaps in search of an antidote to our increasing dependence on the digital world, she invites friends to share their favorite natural environment with her, and photographs them with a medium format camera. Forgoing a digital camera for analog reinforces that sense of disconnection and slowing down, and results in a gorgeous image rich with detail and verdant tones. Her subject, dead center of the frame in a patch of light, nonetheless almost disappears in the flora, and Eunjae’s distant vantage point heightens the sense of calm – not even the photographer disturbing it. It’s a gorgeous, meditative image, and a reminder of the power of nature as a remedy as we increasingly live our existences online.” – Life Framer


“Kristof presents a chaotic composition of a scene in Accra, Ghana, but there’s something captivating about it. Amongst the disorder and hubbub, the mess and the ingenuity in the surroundings, this striking lady glances over her shoulder, held momentarily in thought. There’s so much to explore in the frame, but it’s her that the viewer’s eyes keep returning to.” – Life Framer


“This is a beautiful, meditative image – delicate tones and a still water that fades imperceptibly into sky. We see a man at total peace, floating in the haze, and the viewer cannot help but pause for a moment and drift with him. Interesting details emerge – the items he carries with him picked out in blue, red, yellow and green – but it’s what’s not shown that gives the image its power. Presumably shot from the banks of the river (the Ganges in Varanasi), Sarah removes all distractions from the frame to freeze a beautiful moment of serenity.” – Life Framer


“Taken from a series in which she documents ancestral European rituals, Simona’s portrait depicts a person in traditional festival attire against a drab backdrop. Both absurd and beautiful – an assortment of colors and textural embellishments highlighted against the sparse surroundings – it offers a moment to contemplate the place for such tradition and heritage, and how they might evolve or be preserved in a world that continues to homogenize. It’s a fascinating glimpse into an unknown world.” – Life Framer


“These Second World War bunker structures on the Normandy coastline stand silent and weather-beaten, glassy against the flat, empty skyline. They make a quiet impression on the landscape – seemingly fading into a nothingness as their history might. Véronique shares a quiet, understated composition that provokes a sense of deep reflection.” – Life Framer

A prestigious jury, 4 international exhibitions and $24000 in cash prizes.

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