Sponsored by Zain and Burgan Bank, in cooperation with Canon, Albumii, Al-Anbaa and Smartdots, hosted at Holiday Inn

A professional photographer from Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) won this year’s Kuwait Times photo competition. Gazi Qallaf, 55, took home a Canon EoS 70D camera, Canon EF-S 18-200 mm, a camera bag and an economy Kuwait-Dubai-Kuwait air ticket at a ceremony hosted by Holiday Inn, Salmiya on Sunday evening. The winning picture is a powerful image of three children wearing national dress walking past an old dhow, which he captured during the annual ‘dasha’ ceremony at the Kuwait Sea Club last year.

Palestinian folkloric group
The photo competition ‘Kuwait in our Eyes’ is the biggest in Kuwait, and photographers who previously participated and won are now part of various local and international companies worldwide. Some of their photos have appeared in and recognized by international photo competitions as well.

The event was held under the generous sponsorship of Zain, Burgan Bank, Canon Al-Sayer and Albumii in cooperation with Al-Anbaa newspaper and Smartdots. A performance by a famous Palestinian folkloric group received the loudest applause by the thrilled audience which included Mohammad Amira, Albumii Managing Director, Nabil Iskandarani, Canon Al-Sayer General Manager and Ahmad Al-Takrit, representative of Zain.

Gazi has been a photographer in Kuwait since the 1970s. In the 1980s, he worked at Kuwait Times before moving to other Arabic dailies, later landing a job in KUNA as its official photographer. “I am really happy to bag this year’s grand prize – it’s like winning a world title. I’ve been participating in many contests here and abroad and I win sometimes, but this one is big. My objective is not always to win, but gain more experience and be more professional in the job I am in,” he said. Last year, Qallaf came in fourth place. He has three grown children in Jordan.

A communication engineer at the ministry of defense, Jesusito Arcia from the Philippines won the second prize, taking home a Canon EoS-2.8 USM camera, camera bag and an economy Kuwait-Dubai-Kuwait ticket. For Arcia, taking photographs of anything under the sun helps him cope with homesickness. “I started taking photographs when I was in Saudi Arabia. I missed the Philippines with it greenery and people, so to cope with my longing, I bought a camera and photograph whatever I see. I also go to remote places to take photos, to the desert, in the inner cities, etc. This has become a very expensive hobby for me, so I thought of participating in contests. Last year I got a special mention and prizes, this year I’m second, so am really happy about it,” he said. Arcia’s winning photograph is an image of Kuwait Towers with silhouettes of people taking photographs in front of it.

The third prize was bagged by Kuwaiti retired government employee Mufleh Al-Hajri. He took a photograph of the Liberation Tower in Kuwait City during twilight, which appeared to be more colorful than usual. “Now I am retired but am enjoying life. I like to take photos of Kuwait. I’ve been doing this for some time now, in fact I have many old photographs and I keep them in the drawer to show my grandchildren. I love freezing time and going back to it once I have time,” he said.

Building societies
On behalf of Kuwait Times Editor-in-Chief Abd Al-Rahman Al-Alyan, Kuwait Times Deputy General Manager Adnan Saad thanked the participants as well as the generous sponsors and guests who graced the occasion. “We at Kuwait Times strongly believe in the significance of communal activities’ role in building societies, and are committed to contribute in boosting public awareness and work on supporting and spreading culture and awareness in all social sectors,” he said.

“The 10th photography contest aimed at promoting and developing the art of photography in Kuwait by attracting many photography lovers and taking care of talented ones and supporting professional and amateur photographers through holding and organizing forums and personal and group exhibitions at home and abroad to exchange expertise. The competition also seeks to own and publish the participating works in general,” he added.

The Kuwait Times Photography Competition is one of the most important ones held in Kuwait, receiving entries from various schools and displaying artistic photography techniques of both professional and amateur photographers. According to the jury committee, over 725 participants took part this year with a total of 2,125 entries, which made it hard for the jury to select the winners according to the photo topic, purpose and technique used, provided all entries fully observed the competition rules.

“The large number of participants and entries has had its pros and cons. A large number of entries were disqualified by the jury for not following the competition rules – the photographer has to know the subject/topic and based on that you shoot your images,” Saad said. “Many photos were disqualified because they were not related to the topic. They are beautiful but we have to reject them,” he said.

Positive role
In order to win any competition, one has to fully study the theme, assimilate the idea and capture certain decisive moments in our lives, which are not spontaneous. “They exist in our life on a daily basis, and by the time we press the button on our cameras, our intuition will have already locked and captured those moments in our hearts and vision before we visualize the whole image live and in full detail. The real image is definitely one that speaks for itself, where a photographer’s role is not limited to taking the shot but rather practicing a form of art expression,” Saad pointed out.

“We also thank all companies and establishments who believed in our initiative -Zain, Burgan Bank, Canon and Smart Dots, Al-Anbaa and Albumii. We also thank Holiday Inn Salmiya for hosting this ceremony and look forward to more future support and cooperation for the greater good. Finally and Al-Anbaa for the positive role they played in supporting us side by side with other local media and advertising agencies,” Adnan concluded.

By Ben Garcia