Boris Austin: single image, Gold Winner
After studying in London, single image Gold winner Boris Austin went on to complete a photography MA in China. Now based in Beijing, he works on journalistic and film projects as well as photography work.
Like many of our winning photographers, he was prompted to enter Love, Pain and Beauty because the title instantly made him think of an image in his portfolio. The image highlights a community which the spotlight on Beijing has failed to see; a group whose homes could be destroyed at any time.
This winning portrait was shot in 2007 as part of a long-term documentary book project Boris is working on. He explains: “The book, “Solidified Memories”, is about a threatened historical area in northern China and the lives of the community who live there. This image was one of several posed portraits shot on a 1953 Agfa Isolette 3. As in all the posed portraits, the background was the initial concept. This area of China was part built by Japanese invaders during the war and, for me, details like the hanging underwear have sensitive meaning in relation to the area’s tragic history.“
I think this picture of the sisters from Sichuan shows how protective the older sister is. Combined the with mood of the light (reflected from the setting sun), this is what gives this image its strength.”
Boris initially studied multimedia and worked professionally in design and video before turning his focus to photography. He believes that having a diverse range of media and photography experience is helping him weather the tough current climate. “I’ve always been open to work in different areas,” he says, “although most of it doesn't appear on the portfolio. Above all else, I think it’s important to keep a personal style and method of working in order to maintain an overall vision."
One of Boris’s most interesting commissions was from Stern Magazine, to mark the first anniversary of the Sichuan earthquake. “We were challenged to find 10 survivors who had featured in iconic news imagery from after the quake,” he recalls, “to discover how their lives had changed.”
Boris is about to go back to Beijing to work for UNICEF, and is also planning some new projects in Asia.