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Life Framer – Open Call 2021: Winners announced

Life Framer presents the results of their August 2021 competition judged by South African conceptual photographer Tsoku Maela, whose deeply personal work focuses on the human condition – the mind, body and spirit – in the context of blackness and Africa’s colonial past.

The occasional Open Calls give photographers carte blanche to submit work of any genre, style and topic, and so it’s no surprise the resulting selection traces a path through documentary, street, portrait, reportage and of course conceptual photography – with spades of the creative execution and thought-provoking subject matter that defines Maela’s work.

“There was so much exceptional work, and it was a real privilege to have experienced these stories” Maela says. “I try to speak from the heart when an image moves me deeply. While I think all of the images here are wonderful, there are some for which I hope not to soil their brilliance by offering half-formed thoughts. I have commented on some, but there are others for which I cannot find the words to explain why I enjoy them.”

© Hyunmin Ryu


One of the winner of the competition is Hyunmin Ryu. “This photograph is instructive in effectively using the frame to convey a story that needs no words for interpretation. Photographers tend to focus on creating contrast through color, highlights, and shadows. But good stories grab our attention because we are to feel some sort of tension. This work here does just that. Not only does it comment on parenting in a digital age or the challenges of parenting in general, but also topics of narcism and beauty standards.”TSOKU MAELA


Photographer statement – “From the series Kim Saehyun. A series of photography about my nephew who became my best friend from the moment he was born. Although he is my best friend, there will be a gap between his and mine memories, differences in values will arise, and eventually we will grow up to be individual and mysterious human beings. Perhaps that path is the relationship between a child and an adult. This work shows the failure of one person to fully understand the other through the ontological uncertainty of photography.”

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