The Global Good Awards celebrates those who encourage purpose-driven sustainability, and this year it recognised two young people doing outstanding activism work by presenting them with the Canon Young Champion of the Year Award: Bella Lack and Nicole Fernandes de Silva. At just 17, Bella is an ambassador for the Born Free Foundation, the RSPCA and the Jane Goodall Institute, and educates others through social media on the importance and value of wildlife conservation, on which she gave a TEDx talk.

Nicole is a volunteer for multi-award-winning youth charity, BIGKID Foundation, working to help young people at risk of social exclusion and youth violence. She recently took part in their first art exhibition, and under the theme ‘Through My Eyes’, she captured a series of portraits of young people accompanied by their thoughts on growing up in South London. We caught up with Nicole for a chat, and share some of her striking portraits below.

When did you first get into photography and did you get a lot of encouragement from family members, teachers etc?
I actually got into photography quite recently as I am studying it for my A Levels, but since I’ve started my studies I have developed a real passion for it. My tutor and photography teacher is really supportive and always encourages me to explore photography outside of the school environment.

When did you get involved with the BIGKID Foundation, and why?
I was originally part of BIGKID Foundation’s girls’ football team back in 2014. I then re-joined the Foundation in October 2019 when I was asked to help with their first arts exhibition.


What approach did you decide upon when taking the photos and what equipment did you use?
When doing the ‘Through My Eyes’ shoot, we asked the models to think about what it’s like to live in South London. As they were in thought, I took the pictures – by giving them a few minutes to think about their answers, their reactions became more natural. We felt that taking headshots in black and white would be more powerful and giving the models a statement to think about would show their emotions more clearly. I can’t wait to try my new Canon compact G7X, I think it could help make my message even stronger.


What difference will winning this award make to you?
Winning this award has made me more confident in my photography skills. It has also made me more open to photography as a career path in the future.

What are your biggest tips for successful portrait photography?
With any sort of shoot you should aim to follow the main ‘rules’, such as the rule of thirds, leading lines etc, which will help to keep your subject the most prominent aspect of the photo. But it’s also important to experiment and have fun. If you have an idea that seems weird, do it, because for all you know it could turn out to be really great.


What are your future plans when it comes to photography?
Even though photography is not my main passion, I would love to continue it in the future. I want to teach English abroad and travel as much as I can. Alongside this, I would love to capture my journey through photography.