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Award WinnersPhotography

Life Framer Photography Award 2021: All “World Travelers” Winners

Life Framer is delighted to announce the results of their July 2021 competition judged by Norwegian photojournalist and member of Magnum Photos, Jonas Bendiksen.

With flights grounded and borders closed over the last 18 months, many travel plans have had to go on pause. But with absence comes hunger, and the yearning to travel only became stronger in many of us. With this competition Life Framer invited to share adventures and explorations , opening our eyes to new places, people and cultures. That may have meant rooting through the archives from past years, or exploring closer to home, seeing your local landscapes and ways of life with eyes afresh.

From the equator to the Antarctic Circle, via Venice, Volgograd and Varanasi, London and Ladakh, these twenty images from twenty talented photographers act to highlight the immensity of the world, the fascination to be found in its colossal mountainscapes, feats of architecture, varied human cultures, and simple moments such as jumping puddles or feeling the sun on your face. They remind us of the small space each of us occupies in our vast world, and that a life best lived is one that absorbs as much of it as possible.


About Life Framer

Life Framer is an award that showcases creative photography from amateur and professional artists. Every Edition we run 12 monthly calls for entries, each overseen by a world-renowned photographer or industry professional, and winners are exhibited in curated shows at gallery spaces around the world. Now in our seventh Edition, past judges have included Steve McCurry, Bruce Gilden, Philip-Lorca diCorcia and Alex Prager, along with curators and editors from MoMA, Tate Modern and the International Center of Photography, and exhibitions have been held in London, New York, Milan, Tokyo and Paris.


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“This winter landscape struck me immediately. While it is monochromatic and pale, it still stands out, laden with mystery and intrigue. It is an image that is full of ambiguity, and makes me feel like I am entering a fairy tale. The image is not very place-specific – it could be hundreds of locations, and leaves a lot open to interpretation. I also fell for the subtle but sculptural shapes of the snow. The poeple in the background, almost invisible at first, gives the image the necessary sense of scale. An image that almost looks like a fake film set, but leaves me with a deep appreciation of nature’s diverse beauty.” – JONAS BENDIKSEN

Photographer statement – “Crevasse Seekers. Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina. Tourism nowadays reaches even the most remote and wild frontiers of the sparsely populated mountain communities of Patagonia. Perito Moreno has become one of the most visited glaciers on our Planet. Mass tourism shifts local rural communities into a service-based economy with new amenity migrants and tourists in seek of recreation opportunities. Despite the great majority of the worldwide glaciers are retreating, Perito Moreno is one of the few which maintains itself in a state of equilibrium, accumulating ice mass at a rate similar to that of its loss.”



“A simple but striking image. The stillness of the water is unique, and the boatsman’s reflection is beautifully composed. The lack of a clear horizon gives it a dreamlike quality. I assume this image is created together with the subject, and the risk is that it becomes too contrived – but the photographer manages the balance, and I let myself be pulled into this serene world.” – JONAS BENDIKSEN

Photographer statement – “An Intha fisherman paddles his boat on Inle lake, Shan state, Myanmar.”


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“Taking the bold decision to tightly frame his subject, encircled in the red fabric so synonymous with Buddhist monks, Philip creates a remarkable portrait that draws you in with its deep colors and those huge eyes. It’s powerful and dignified portrait full of humanity, which poses questions of the role of faith and religion in the lives of people so young.” – LIFE FRAMER

Photographer statement – “Portrait of a young Buddhist monk at the Lama Yuru Monastery, Ladakh, India.”



“Jan presents a surreal canal-side scene – lurid lime green and fiery orange where more muted colors should be, as if it’s been shot through a colored gel filter or digitally altered in post-production. What we’re in fact witnessing is the houses of Burano, painted in bright shades for good reason as Jan explains in his statement, making for a unique and eccentric place. It feels surreal and full of wonder, and the lack of any human presence adds to that. It would be interesting to see a version of the shot with more of the water’s reflection, juxtaposing sinuous ripples against the architecture’s straight lines.” – LIFE FRAMER

Photographer statement – “Houses of Individuality captures the brightly painted houses on the small Venetian island of Burano. This bold tradition began somewhat as a beacon for fishermen approaching land so they could identify the buildings through the thick Venetian fog. Today, the colors reflect the various personalities of the owners.”


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“The best of a certain genre of travel photography is deeply immersive, transporting the viewer to a new, awe-inspiring place and awakening all the senses. It’s not just a record of an incredible moment experienced by the photographer, but an incredible record itself. That’s exactly what Stephen achieves here. The guide’s burning torch paints him in an orange light as Volcano Bromo smolders behind, and it feels like he’s lighting the way for us as much as he is for the photographer, beckoning us down into this breath-taking vista. It’s a wonderful, perfectly-realized shot.” – LIFE FRAMER

Photographer statement – “Java, Indonesia, Volcano Bromo in the background.”


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“There’s a serenity to this scene – in the blue sky, white lace, and familiar relationship Phil has clearly achieved with his subjects, them unflustered by his presence – but also a quiet tension. What is it that draws their attention away from his lens? Taken from a series exploring Catholicism in Brittany, and its struggle for relevance among younger generations, their closeness and intricate outfits speak to a devotion, to God and to each other. But the context of Phil’s statement brings new meaning to the image. They feel out of step with current times, their gazes into the distance figurative of time slipping away perhaps, or of what once was. It’s a sensitively observed moment that effectively captures the ideas Phil wishes to explore.” – LIFE FRAMER

Photographer statement – “Pardon de Saint Michel, Brittany. Brittany in France is a land of many beliefs, cults and traditions. One of the illustrations of this fact can be seen during the ceremonies of the Pardons (French for Forgiveness). Every year local Catholic saints are celebrated across the region in an eclectic mix of superstition, religion and rites of pagan origin. The project Days of Mercy attempts to decode the practice of ancient religious rituals as seen in Brittany. With a church congregation losing its appeal it is feared the next generations might not be able to perpetuate these century old practices.”



“Sunset shots can feel a little tired and overdone, but Henri’s inspired and well-executed framing creates interest, building layers with the cropped horse and rider in the foreground, the carriage in the midground, and the fading sun in the background, imbuing the wet sand with a gorgeous golden glow that offsets the shadows. Are these people here to pick up tourists, or just to enjoy the fading light in this peaceful setting? Some more written context would not have gone amiss but it’s a beautiful, striking image.” – LIFE FRAMER

Photographer statement – “Sunset at Parangtritis Beach, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.”


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“Taken from height so as to remove any form of horizon line or clue to the scale of the setting, Sujon captures an arresting scene, as we watch two men transport a goddess sculpture through water thick with algae. It feels arduous, the distance they must travel unknown, and so speaks to their devotion. A journey for this goddess and her only – one man guiding the buffalos as the other watches over her. It’s a wonderfully taken moment, and an fascinating comment on the power of religion and ritual.” – LIFE FRAMER

Photographer statement – “Goddess Traveler. In Bangladesh the Hindu Bengali devotees celebrates their ritual with goddess, every year they pick new goddess sculpture from market into their home for Worshiping. Being a riverine country many devotees uses variety of transportation to bring their goddess to the temple or home. During dry season when most of the rivers dries out, Buffalo carts become a popular transportation vehicle which is an age-old tradition in rural areas of Bangladesh.”


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“Alex employs motion blur to capture the speed and intensity of this image, as the S.A. Agulhas, an Antarctic research vessel, drives its way through ice – its yellow and red adornments the only bursts of color against a vast white oceanscape. It’s an arresting scene, seemingly nothing but this ship for miles and miles, and a reminder of the stark beauty and sometimes unforgiving nature of our planet, one which we continue to explore and seek to understand.” – LIFE FRAMER

Photographer statement – “The S.A. Agulhas moving through ice sheets en route to Antarctica.”


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“The Maasai people are often guides for Kenyan safaris, and while there is much to learn from them, their treatment in the photographs of safari tourists can veer into slightly uncomfortable cultural exoticism if not careful. Likewise images of safari animals, unless expertly done, can feel like a poor substitute for really being there. Uta seems to understand this, choosing to contract the frame where others would expand it and focus on a small detail rather than the vast grassland plains, or even the entirety of her Maasai guide. She also chooses to photograph in black and white, removing the bright of the cloth so characteristic of these people, and instead giving the frame an opulent, silvery sheen. All this makes for a unique, thoughtful and personal perspective on travel – a snapshot of her adventure that captures a feeling as much as a moment.” – LIFE FRAMER

Photographer statement – “In 2018 I travelled to the highlands of Laikipia in Northern Kenya. It was my very first visit to Africa, and I was blown away right from start. It is the most beautiful land I have ever seen, and the local Maasai community who owned the lovingly designed little ranch were great and friendly people and wonderful hosts. Laikipia is home to white and black rhinos, Grevy zebras, and a large population of elephants. The Maasai operate the only community-owned rhino sanctuary in Kenya. It is possible to go on walking safaris to spot the shy black rhinos.

We slept in romantic wooden huts open to the valley side, watched the stars and heard the nocturnal animal noises. Even though I enjoyed this heavenly place so much, I had nightmares and dark thoughts every night. Young girls crying in a dark hut made of mud and cow dung during circumcision. A woman jogging in the morning is trampled by an angry mother elephant. Armed Samburo herders who come from the north with their hungry cattle and raid the ranch and the conservancy. And during our last night, I suddenly woke up to hear the rattling breath of a leopard just a few meters away. I was frozen with fear. We were the only guests and our hosts slept on the other side of the hill. There was a decorative spear near the door, it would be my only weapon. The big cat could easily come up to snatch my son as a delicious human snack. I was later redeemed after hearing an animal scream down the hill. Has the leopard found another victim?

About my ambivalent experiences and thoughts, I self-published a photobook entitled Milch und Blut (Milk and Blood), named after the traditional main food source of the Maasai, who open the carotid artery of their cattle and later close the wound with cow dung after drinking.”



“Children leaping into water is shorthand for joy and abandon, and those feelings are infectious in this image. Contrasting the brightly sunlit stairways of this Indian stepwell – an architecture mesmerizing for its scale, symmetry and repetition – with the deep, inky darkness of the water below, Marc captures a young boy in flight. His leap seems perilous – a huge distance to traverse and height to fall before he splashes into the pool below – and it captures just why this playful phenomenon is so staggering to witness, and worthy of documentation.” – LIFE FRAMER

Photographer statement – “Photographing the stepwells of India has always been high on my list. Walking the streets of Jodhpur for hours on end, witnessing the abundance of beauty and poverty peppering my eyeballs I came across a pretty quiet area with a cool stepwell. These structures are not only a source of water but a fun novelty for the local kids, who whilst escaping the Rajasthani heat would see which one could climb the highest and bomb-dive into the stagnant water.”


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“A witty juxtaposition of religion and industry – what we used to worship, and what we worship now you could say if you were being sardonic – with the smoke stacks of the power plant mirroring the pillars and cross of the church. Gianluca seeks to subvert the idea of true exploration, that you can find wholly unique experiences even if you travel to the ends of the earth, and it’s a wry and successful result.” – LIFE FRAMER

Photographer statement – “The west coast of Portugal is where you can travel to the westernmost point of the European continent. I wanted to express how today such a reputation does not mean much because no matter how far you decide to travel, the human presence will be more and more present. I decided to frame the scene by juxtaposing an old church literally built on the cliffs of the coast against a huge power plant and a parking lot for RVs and vacationers in the distance.”


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“Visiting museums, monuments and historic buildings, travel can be as much about understanding what was as what is. That’s particularly apparent in things like this towering Soviet statue, representing ideals that are largely no more. The scale is just staggering and Eddie highlights its immensity with a tiny lone figure walking past its base as a blizzard rages. The heavy analog film grain intensifies the torrid conditions, and speaks to the faded glory of what the statue embodies, it almost be disappearing before our eyes.” – LIFE FRAMER

Photographer statement – “Shadowy figure walking past The Motherland Calls in the rain. Volgograd, Russia.”



“With so many images of amazing places travelled to, its nice to also see images that represent the act of traveling itself. Shot in muted tones, there’s something beautifully calming in the simplicity of this moment – leaning back and absorbing the last of the day’s light, seemingly without a care in the world beyond the next meal and the next destination.” – LIFE FRAMER

Photographer statement – “From an ongoing series about a place I’ve ended up in, in order to heal myself. It is a non place and an all place, inside but outside this world, outside but inside. A place that shouldn’t need to be talked about.”


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“Through the use of drones, aerial photography is becoming more and more accessible and therefore ubiquitous. Such images are most effective when they reveal a scale or a form of order we would otherwise not see from the ground or even a high vantage point, or as in this case an abstraction that highlights the immense beauty of the natural world. Shot with a flat perspective, this Icelandic river system looks like a painting, the alien colors feeling thrilling and unreal. It reminds us of the wonder of the natural world, and also the patterns found in nature – it could as easily be a close-up detail of a rock or precious stone as it is this macroscopic view.” – LIFE FRAMER


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“It’s said that it always rains in London, and Neti uses the puddles to her advantage, crisply and creatively framing a reflection of Big Ben as an anonymous city dweller leaps onto the pavement. One of the challenges for any photographer is how to capture such a famous landmark as this in a way that is interesting and individual, and not just another photo to add to the thousands of similar ones already taken. Neti succeeds wonderfully, framing Big Ben in a way that it is instantly recognizable, but also captures something of London’s atmosphere and spirit.” – LIFE FRAMER

Photographer statement – “Big Ben. The first time when I visited London, before arriving I intended to capture Big Ben from a different angle with Hasselblad 500CM, and I got it.”



“There is always something poetic about the ocean – the self-reflection in staring out at the vast blue expanse, questioning one’s own place in the immensity of the world, or the lives of others thousands of miles away. Ekaterina’s image evokes these ideas, but it is the oily, menacing sky that adds another dimension, highlighting the vulnerability of this hiker. A sliver of sun through the cloud outlines them in white, reminding us that everything passes. An image ripe with adventure.” – LIFE FRAMER

Photographer statement – “The calm before the storm. It was one of the most beautiful and scary moments in my life.”


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“Taken from the comfort of her more conventional mode of transport, Celine captures five men in the scoop of a construction digger, those closest to her seemingly exhausted after a tough days’ work, and those furthest from her playfully laughing with the passenger of a passing moped. She describes the scene so wonderfully in her statement that it’s hard to add to it – it’s a brilliant candid capture that documents an ingenuity, a spontaneity, and the beautiful chaos of the “Incredible India” Celine describes.” – LIFE FRAMER

Photographer statement – “Hitching A Ride. I had about 2 seconds to capture this through my taxi window in time as I was heading out of Varanasi: a group of men hitching a ride in a tractor scoop full speed on the main road, appearing as though they are interacting with the moped next to them. I can feel a bond in their camaraderie, while they all remain distinct in their individual facial expressions and stances. From their individual emotions, to the dirt on their faces and cushioning their backs, to the misaligned pipes and torn ads in the background –This, to me, embodied “Incredible India”, and the jaw-dropping surprises, resilience and humanity this part of the world reveals at every corner.”


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“A simple but expertly taken portrait, with beautifully controlled lighting that highlights Simon’s subject’s features. Meeting his lens with a seemingly tired but dignified expression, it captures a bastion of Mariachi culture, with Simon’s black and white treatment emphasizing the fact that their days may be numbered.” – LIFE FRAMER

Photographer statement – “One of the few remaining Mariachis of San José, Costa Rica. The Mariachis say that the current youth doesn’t appreciate their musical tradition as past generations have done.”



“Imbuing the emotion and aesthetic of the classic North American road trip, Rachel captures the taillights of a car fading into the distance in Lone Pine, California, seemingly the only other human life for miles around. The road slopes downwards towards the mountains rising dramatically in the distance, lit in stunning pink sunrise tones. It’s a majestic scene which would look remarkable printed large-scale, and which stirs a sense of freedom and adventure in the viewer.” – LIFE FRAMER

Photographer statement – “Sunrise drive, the sun rising on the opposite side of the mountains illuminating the horizon.”

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