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“URBAN LIFE” – Announcing the winners

“What I like about cities is that everything is king size, the beauty and the ugliness” ― Joseph Brodsky

We are delighted to present the results of the ninth monthly theme of Life Framer edition IV – URBAN LIFE. We asked you to show us urban life and the revelations of the modern world, from New York to Nairobi, São Paulo to Shanghai… architecture and cityscapes, urban decay, street encounters, suburban stories…. The theme was judged by Peter Funch, a fine-art and commercial photographer celebrated for his perceptive social commentary and cinematic visual language.

You can discover the winning images below and join the discussion on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Congratulations to all the talented photographers featured, and thank you to everyone who submitted their work.

First Prize: Kostas Kapsianis

“This image didn’t capture my attention immediately, but the more I returned to it, the more it struck me. I really like the deadpan humor in it. There’s a paradox to it, and I like how the tree is observing and enjoying the view above the rest of the houses in the valley. You feel the heat outside and it’s almost like a film where you’re left wondering what’s going to happen in the next frame.” – Peter Funch

“For me, this image highlights the globalization of our urban worlds – this Christmas tree sitting a million miles away from the picture-postcard setting one might imagine. This irregularity is further underscored by the contrast between the tree – decorated and cared-for – and its surroundings, empty and devoid of life. What a strange scene it is. Where are we? Who lives behind this perfect glass façade? It feels cinematic and ripe with intrigue.” – Life Framer

Second Prize: Olga de la Iglesia

“This image stands out despite the lack of context given. The colors are everything here, and it beautifully captures the essence of street culture – there are multiple dialogs at play. Who’s talking to who? Who’s looking at who? You can study it for a long time.” – Peter Funch

“As Peter describes, color is everything in this image – the various tones burst with vibrancy, almost like they were selected from a painter’s palette. In one sense, none of the elements sit quite right – bodies are cropped, faces are obscured – and yet it create a glorious, unified whole. Less about the individual elements and more about the combined feeling. It’s a tactile image – you hear the chatter, smell the dust, feel the heat from the overhead sun. Some photographic work is driven by technique and precision, and others by feel. This image is most definitely the latter – an evanescent moment of beauty in the everyday.” – Life Framer

Other winning photographers:

Oli Kellett

“What a strange and magical image this is. It’s almost like a toy-town, these commuters neatly arranged and comically small against their towering urban surroundings. Inhabiting an almost empty world, where nothing else exists at human-scale. They look insignificant and vulnerable against their looming, cold and empty surroundings. It’s perhaps a comment on the ever-increasing vastness of our urban worlds, the widening disconnect between ourselves and the spaces we occupy – perhaps too big and sprawling for us to fully comprehend.” – Life Framer

Laurence Kubski

“This isn’t the only image in the selection that contrasts new with old, but it’s charmingly executed. I’m drawn to the care with which these trees are being pruned, the workers reminding me of those that would hang from cradles cleaning the windows of the skyscrapers in the background, and the trees themselves reaching upwards like towers. It’s a meditation on the coexistence of old and new, nature and structure, looking forwards while venerating the past, but here, contrary to so many other examples, there is a level of harmony.” – Life Framer

Glenn Homann

“This is a gorgeous visual collage. Like a form of urban decoupage, Glenn layers shapes and textures – metal, brick, glass, fabric, concrete, rust and type – the building blocks of contemporary urban life. The harmonious colors burst with a sublime energy, and the forms and shadows intersect with purpose. It’s the kind of scene that was made for color photography – a wonderfully captured environmental still life scene.” – Life Framer

Kari Bjorn Thorleifsson

“Kari’s image channels that oppressive, constrained feeling once can associate with urban living. The intense flash and confrontational framing he employs creates an evocative scene where this businessman is completely hemmed in by his surroundings – the urban world, the weather, the concrete closing in around him. His hunched posture and glazed forwards stare propelling him onwards through it all. It’s such a rich scene, exploring the trappings of a modern, capitalist existence.” – Life Framer

Cyrus Cornut

“Cyrus’ is one of those images that stops you in your tracks. Taken in Chongqing, China in 2017, it juxtaposes the history of the country with the relentless march of economic growth. We see this woman standing in a world a million miles from the one that rises in the background haze, quietly and thoughtfully taking in the view. It’s a staggering image, perfectly framed. A powerful musing on progress and tradition, the future and the past, the unstoppable pace of change, and of the detachment one can feel from it. It’s an image very much of its place and time, but one that channels feelings that stir in many of us.” – Life Framer

Kristof Vadino

“As the wealth divide in our cities continues to widen, this image is a captivating and shocking depiction of just how keenly it can be felt. Juxtaposing this girl centre-frame in gorgeous half-light, with the glow from the high-rise apartment behind her, is startlingly effective. That apartment literally out of view and figuratively out of reach, in a world where the haves and have-nots live in ever-closer coexistence.” – Life Framer

Galit Seligmann

“Galit’s statement describes the ad-hoc, unregulated architecture of Mumbai – a megacity which continues to grow inward on itself, with informal structures that house primarily migrant labourers. This image perfectly captures the precarious nature, both structurally and politically, of this reality. She captures a patchwork of fabric, wood and corrugated iron, composing it to extend off-frame in all directions, giving a sense of a limitless expansion. There’s so much detail to explore, the almost camouflaged boy helping to establish scale, and yet the image also works as a unified whole. The clean color palette – just white, red and blue – is at odds with the informality of the constructions it covers, and this dichotomy is absorbing. It’s a scene at once beautiful and terrifying. Both a celebration of human ingenuity, and an indictment of the global politics that necessitate it.” – Life Framer

Johan Brink

“This is stunning interplay of light and shadow, this commuter almost lost in the darkness were it not for his silhouette cutting angles against the street markings and his hand and neck pinpointed by the low sun. It’s a master-class in handling light. Day becomes night. There are threads here that hint at the ideas of feeling isolation and invisible in amongst a million others, of being just a tiny, insignificant cog in a huge machine. I’m reminded of the Henry David Thoreau quote – “City life is millions of people being lonesome together”. These ideas resonate with me, but what keeps me returning to the image is Johan’s adeptness in distilling a scene down into its most simple, satisfying elements. No unnecessary embellishments or noise. Everything in its right place.” – Life Framer

Kristian Leven

“This is a masterclass in framing – the diagonals of the railings and skyline, and of the child’s makeshift costume cutting an X through the scene. There’s so much to absorb in the frame, but it’s presented with a compositional clarity – dynamic but assured. Technicality is one thing, but it’s little without emotional weight, and what I love about this image is how it celebrates childlike imagination – this little person absorbed in adventure, creating a playground in her harsh surroundings, with her limited props. A superhero in suburbia.” – Life Framer

Maarten Vromans

“Maarten’s composition is clean and simple – an exercise in restraint, distilling the geometry of this urban wall into something minimal and artful. Perhaps it’s a comment on impermanence – the inevitable entropy of life that slowly erodes at all of our man-made creations. Slowly everything becomes dust. For me, it channels other ideas too – the cracks remind me of the imperfections of marble, one building material traded for another. Or even an aerial view of the fissures through arctic ice, playing with our sense of scale. It’s a quietly powerful composition.” – Life Framer

Alexandre Chaplier

“This is a deftly observed moment of street spontaneity, the type that’s so satisfying to view in retrospect, but so difficult to capture in the moment. The work of patience, skill and instinct. It’s brilliantly framed – the vertical columns enclosing the scene and pulling our gaze towards the light and shadow centre-frame, where a detached hand floats in the darkness. It’s wry and absurd. I enjoy the extemporaneity of this moment, the rich colors and the textures of the frame, and also the subtle link between the pointing finger and the shadow of the street sign below it – both indicators for navigating through our urban world.” – Life Framer

Raul Guillermo

“While some of the winning images capture a grandiosity of the urban world – the immensity and dynamism of our cities – Raul finds a quiet magic in normalcy. His image portrays a poetic beauty in an unassuming moment – the soft colors and curve of the chair back leading into the hair of a fellow traveler, tonally beautiful. The empty chair perhaps simultaneously recognizing a closeness, and a remoteness. It’s tender, intimate and assured.” – Life Framer

Joachim Hildebrand

“There’s a powerful simplicity to this image, the lustrous neon lit tower blocks in stark contrast with the dilapidated fencing that protects them. Like a couple of other images in the selection I’m drawn to the feeling of passing of time. Of impermanence, of cyclical destruction and regeneration. And I’m also pulled towards the hand-written text on the battered metal barriers – subtle reminders of the individuals who have left their small marks, only to fade and disappear with time. Destruction and regeneration.” – Life Framer

Daniele Esposito

“Shot in an impulsive, stream-of-consciousness style, Daniele’s image stood out for its wildly creative framing, throwing the viewer into the heart of this urban scene, and his flash-gun execution, emphasising the pulsing energy of this moment. It buzzes with a frenetic energy – the mundane becomes electrifying.” – Life Framer

Felipe Fittipaldi

“This is a stunning environmental portrait that gives a glimpse into the chaotic, dangerous reality of parts of Rio de Janeiro – the beaten car and broken furniture giving a sense of the challenging setting this police officer must patrol. His expression says it all – alert, focussed, anxious – but all the while the two ladies behind him seem to go about their business without concern. It’s this contradiction that sums up the tension in this scene – danger is very real, and yet normal life goes on.” – Life Framer

Laurent Dequick

“The waterways of Venice provide iconic, postcard-perfect tourist scenes, but have become somewhat of a visual trope – we’ve all seen them so many times that they lose their wonder. Laurent is aware of this, and gives them a unique visual treatment, abstracting them with a flat composition, desaturated, chromatic colors and a washing stillness that creates something unique, pure and painterly. In doing so, we forget the frenzy of tourists and gondolas, and instead focus on the magisterial architecture. The result is sublime.” – Life Framer

Fabian Muir

“This is an initially perplexing composition, the frame seeming to fold in on itself in confusing ways – this superstructure towering over an urban wasteland, and then this gorgeous vista, as if spliced in from another scene. It has an almost dystopian feel about it, where one class enjoys the views from the parapet while the rest of the city rots below. Heaven and Hell. An apt metaphor for today’s society perhaps. I’m drawn to the figures climbing on the left-hand side of the frame, heads down, personifying that urban drudgery – traveling through an urban purgatory. There’s so much here to uncover.” – Life Framer

A prestigious jury, 3 international exhibitions and $24000 in cash prizes.

Join the award