Worth a Thousand Words…and more

A stunning array of photographs, taken with different styles and under different conditions, make for an arresting exhibition at the upcoming 2015 Sony World Photography Awards.

Touted as the world’s biggest photography competition, a couple of Malaysians have been vying for the top prizes in this competition every year.

Recognising and rewarding the world’s best contemporary photography from the year past, the 2015 competition received the highest number of entries in its eight-year history — 173,444 images from 171 countries — a 24% increase from 2014.

The main categories are Open, Professional, and Youth while a new addition is the Mobile Phone Award which garnered 10,293 entries. The latter category recognises the new creative freedom accorded with the latest camera technology and how mobile photography has helped redefine the way in which photographers approach their art.

The judges, who included Chris Hudson, National Geographic Traveller UK group art editor, narrowed the Mobile Phone award list down to 20, and the general public were asked to ‘like’ their favourite on www.worldphoto.org.

World Photography Organisation creative director Astrid Merget Motsenigos said in a release: “With today’s incredible technology at our fingertips, we have the ability to capture everyday events that actually form part of the unique fabric of our lives.

“Most of us document our own history every day with our mobile phones and think nothing of it. This category allows us to look a little closer at those otherwise ordinary moments.”

As part of the Awards, Malaysian photographer Ruzely Abdullah was named as the winner of the Malaysia National Award on March 17.

Ruzely’s winning image “The Young Shepherd” was chosen as the single best photograph taken by a Malaysian photographer entered into any of the 10 Open categories of the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards.

He won a Sony a7 camera, and will be flown to London to attend the gala ceremony on April 23. His winning image will be part of the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards exhibition at Somerset House, London from April 24-May 10.

Shortlisted in the Youth award category (Culture section) is 19-year-old Zhu Lin Ch’ng from Penang.

His photo is described as “kids dressed up to distribute candies to the bystanders in a parade during the Nine Emperor Gods festival which is celebrated on the ninth month in the lunar calendar each year in Malaysia.”

“I used to hate art because I didn’t do well in art classes in school and I didn’t understand art,” he said. “But when I discovered photography, I immediately became interested in it because I find photography can be used as a medium of self-expression and it also can be used to tell a story without languages, a story that everyone can understand,” said Zhu who is currently applying for a university in Malaysia.

Zhu submitted his photo from the many he has taken “because it shows that we also have this unique festival in our multicultural country.”

“I have participated in many competitions and this is my first time being nominated. This has given me confidence and assurance to continue my passion for photography,” said the teenager who uses an Olympus OM-D E-M1 “because this camera has allowed me to take high quality pictures while keeping the small form factor, which is very useful in all kind of situations.”

Also shortlisted in the Youth category is Yong Lin Tan, who has two photographs in the Environment section. One shows a road in Kangkar Baru, which leads to the main road to Yong Peng town in Johor, while the other is of the back alley of his grandmother’s house in Alor Setar, Kedah.

In the Open category, Kok Keong Na has a spot in the Travel section, while Nick Ng Yeow Kee has been shortlisted in the Low Light section.

Ng, a dentist, took his shortlisted photograph with a Sony a7S. He says he got into photography after attending a dentist implant course in the US for which purpose he had bought a Canon digital camera.

“After a year, I started using the camera for artistic purposes,” said the 45-year-old Kuala Lumpur native.

Fresh from winning the Travel Photographer of the Year competition, which saw him on a sponsored trip to Jaipur, India, Ng said he doesn’t know how he got interested in photography as a hobby. “I was never into art in school!”

His first few ventures saw him doing a photographic series on an old woman which garnered him a Royal Photography Society associate membership. He then did a series on the oldest restaurant in KL, the Sek Yuen Restaurant on Jalan Pudu.

In the Professional category, Nazir Azhari Mohd Anis has a spot in the Travel shortlist while Mong Yong Sim has been shortlisted under Still Life section.

The shortlisted photographers will now compete to win their category and to receive the latest digital imaging equipment from Sony. The 2015 Honorary Jury comprises Oliver Schmitt, Matthew Leifheit, Xingxin Guo, Joanna Milter, Maria Pieri, EnricaViganò, Sasha Erwitt, Jocelyn Bain Hogg and Sue Steward.

The winners of the 10 Open and three Youth categories will be revealed on March 31 and the 13 Professional category winners will be announced on April 23 at an awards ceremony in London.

Zhu said he doesn’t have the financial ability to go to London for the event, though anyone who wins will certainly receive a windfall. The recipient of the coveted L’Iris d’Or/ Professional Photographer of the Year title will also receive a US$25,000 (RM92,774) prize money, while the winners of the Professional categories, overall Youth and Student winners plus the Open Photographer of the Year, will receive US$5,000 (RM18,554).

The shortlisted photographers will have their images shown as part of the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition in London’s historic Somerset House from April 24 – May 10. For more information, please visit www. worldphoto.org