Sustainability | Nominee

Rubén Salgado Escudero

Mexico City / MX

Solar Portraits


Energy poverty is a global issue, affecting over 759 million people worldwide. Solar Portraits addresses the critical lack of access to electricity and the benefits of solar technology and innovation in people's lives.

Small, inexpensive photovoltaic power systems can provide households with hours of light during the night, allowing people to do more with their waking hours at no additional cost. Looking at the larger picture of our planet's environment, solar energy has the potential to make a substantial positive impact on the earth's C02 footprint.

These portraits have all been lit only by solar powered light bulbs to depict the lives of individuals in communities around the world, many of which for the first time have access to electricity through the power of solar energy. Through learning how different cultures use solar in unique ways to solve universal issues, we can better understand how to more effectively implement sustainable energy technology in the future.


Rubén Salgado Escudero was born in Madrid, Spain. He lived in the United States throughout his teenage years, graduating from the Savannah College of Art and Design and later lived 10 years in Berlin, Germany working as a 3D character animator for video games. In 2013 his life changed completely, moving to Myanmar to pursue his passion for photography and document the opening of a country that had been closed to the world for more than half a century. Rubén focuses his projects on social issues and the human condition around the world.

Rubén began his ongoing project Solar Portraits in 2014 . He began photographing families who had recently gained access to solar powered systems, electrifying their homes and businesses for the first time as the country began opening its doors after a transition from military rule. By creating a technique to illuminate each subject using only solar LED bulbs, Salgado Escudero developed a unique visual language. The photographer seeks to empower the protagonists in telling their stories and hopes this project can tackle long term solutions to energy poverty through empathy and education. Today it is not only an artistic project, but with registered non-profit status for its growing social impact initiative. An educational program was developed in 2018 that runs alongside the visual storytelling process, with integrated workshops and creative programming for the youngest members of communities. To date, Solar Portraits represents 28 locations in 9 countries on 5 continents.

His works have been exhibited in dozens of cities worldwide including New York, Berlin, London, Tokyo and Paris. He is a National Geographic Explorer contributing frequently to the magazine. Today he is based in Mexico.