Emirates Photography Competition

We catch up with director Bader Al Nomani ahead of awards

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Equipped with our phone cameras, with their multitude of shiny filter apps, we all fancy ourselves as up and coming photographers. Little wonder then, that the professional photographer’s greatest peeve is the smartphone. But does the rise of Instagram culture cast a shadow over real photography? We ponder this in the run up to the 2012 Emirates Photography Competition (EPC).

And looking over some of the winning works from the 2011 session online, we think the answer is no.

Photography is about more than just fancy filters and moment-capturing shots (so much easier to pull off with your phone always at hand). It’s about the journey that goes into seeking out your subject. It’s about the hours you must wait before an African big cat turns to look your way. It’s about the stories behind the lives you try to capture, in shots that are so full of story but still not telling.

Competitions like the EPC couldn’t be more necessary today. And in an effort to promote the art of the lens and support budding talents, the competition has come a long way. Run by the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), it was set up with the aim of advancing photographic art in the UAE. Now in its seventh year, the competition is bigger than ever with entries coming in from all over the world. ‘Each year we are amazed by the quality across all the categories, from the professional to the amateur,’ says Bader Al Nomani, director of Emirates Photography Competition. ‘Last year we drew over 15,000 entries from 134 countries.’

The 2012 EPC grand prize is a whopping Dhs50,000; followed by a first prize of Dhs20,000; a second prize of Dhs15,000; and a third prize of Dhs10,000. But it doesn’t all come down to the money. There is also a book which, in previous years (Prince of Light in 2010 and Black and White through Creative Eyes in 2011), won the FIAP Five Stars Award for its quality and content. This year’s catalogue, which will be titled Cultural Reflections after the theme of the 2012 competition, will feature all of the best submissions. Due for publication in early 2013, each participant will receive their own copy, regardless of whether or not they win. For all you photography enthusiasts who want to get your hands on a copy, the previous catalogues are available for sale at the Art Workshops reception area of TCA Abu Dhabi at the Abu Dhabi National Theatre Building. They will also be available at Abu Dhabi Art which is taking place later this year in November.

With a jury of international professionals, including acclaimed Arab photographers, the 2012 EPC will be bringing new talent to light and celebrating the extraordinary eye of that talent. The overarching theme of the competition being cultural reflections, the aim, according to Bader Al Nomani, is ‘to mirror the rich diversity of people’s lives and identities worldwide.

‘We believe in the universality of art,’ Al Nomani continued, to highlight the reasons behind opening the competition to an international public. ‘We believe in the intersection of human interests, in creativity in every time and place and the ability of photography to facilitate interaction and communication amongst people across all cultural divides allowing for a strengthened inter-cultural exchange.’
The Emirates Photography Competition is now accepting submissions. Deadline for entry is September 30. Participants will be notified of results on October 20 with the awards ceremony being held in December. For more information or to enter visit www.ephotoc.net.

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