Feature Image by: Nicole Marie

Analysing the Light Awards Environmental Portraiture Winner

30th October 2017
Ben Clement is an internationally recognised photo-artist, who recently hosted the Environmental Portraiture Masterclass for Light Awards LIVE. In this article he explains how he selected the winning image of the Masterclass brief — one that left him asking questions.

Environmental Portraiture Masterclass Brief:

"Find a person of interest, and show who they are in one photograph by using natural light. Utilise your environment, subject, camera knowledge and understanding of light to make a creative and captivating portrait.

Your subject could be from your community, workplace or connected to you via two degrees of separation. Is it their facial/human features, their personality or their environment that you are looking to showcase? Who they are needs to be captured without words and with the sole use of natural light."

Portrait image of kid in chair

“This is a portrait of my daughter, who just turned six. She’s adult-like in many aspects, but still extremely child-like in others. I photographed her in an environment that’s bleak and unwelcoming, with elements in the background to emphasise how tiny, small and vulnerable she is.” - Image by Nicole Marie

The reason I picked this image as the winner is because the composition and use of light in it instantly stood out to me. It tells a story, but also makes me ask a lot of questions. It feels surreal, but also very natural. I’m very impressed the planning and creation of this image was done in only 24 hours.

The environmental element is great, but the focus of the image is the subject, which is important in this genre. My only suggestion would be to shift the subject slightly, so the window frame doesn’t look like it’s coming out of her head.

The participants only had 24 hours to respond to the brief. If they had more time to do it again, the advice I’d give to everyone would be:
  • Analyse your choices.
  • Ask more questions, and be more critical.
  • Look for unique things around you.
  • Shift your angle and shift your perspective.
  • Go beyond what you’re comfortable with.

I enjoyed Light Awards LIVE; it’s cool to see the mix of skill-levels, what photography means to different people, and how they respond to the brief. The experience makes you question what you’d do in that situation, and force you to take a minute and reflect upon what you’ve done yourself.

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