We all fancy ourselves as up-and-coming photographers these days: equipped with a mobile-phone camera and with a wealth of photo-stylising apps at our disposal, it seems anyone can take passable pics and share them with the world. It’s 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’ve pondered this in the run-up to the 2012 Emirates Photography Competition (EPC). Looking at some of the winning works from the 2011 session, we think the answer is no.
Photography is about far more than fancy filters and moment-capturing shots. It’s about the journey that goes into seeking out your subject, 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 full of story but still without explanation.
Competitions such as the EPC are even more vital today. In an effort to promote the art of the lens and support budding talent, the competition has come a long way. Run by the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) and open to all photographers worldwide, 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’re amazed by the quality across all the categories, from professionals to amateurs,’ says competition director Bader Al Nomani. ‘Last year we had more than 15,000 entries from 134 countries.’
The 2012 EPC grand prize is 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. The best photos are compiled into a book, which, in previous years, has won the FIAP Five Stars Award for its quality and content. This year’s catalogue will be titled Cultural Reflections, after the theme of the 2012 competition. 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 will be available for sale at Abu Dhabi Art, a four-day event that begins on Wednesday November 7.
With a jury of international professionals, including acclaimed Arab photographers, the 2012 EPC will bring new talent to light and celebrate the extraordinary eye of that talent. The aim of the competition, 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,’ continues Al Nomani, highlighting 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 among 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. For more info or to enter, see www.ephotoc.net.