Last year, roughly 23,000 photographers from 153 countries sent in over 60,000 images. Those statistics just go to show the reach and popularity of one of the oldest open-to-all photography competitions in the world — the Nikon Photo Contest International — that started in 1969.
From this mindboggling number of entries, Debarshi Dattagupta, an amateur Indian photographer, won the biggest award — the Grand Prize. The theme was ‘energy’, and Dattagupta’s picture of boys diving into the Ganges in Benares, shot in silhouette against the sunset, perfectly symbolised that. Currently, all 33 winning entries are being exhibited at the Piramal Gallery, NCPA.
The present competition (2012-13) invites you to “put your lens on the world” and has no specific theme. The call for entries started earlier this month, and will be on till February next year. For the first time, a movie category has also been introduced.
Master photographer Raghu Rai, the only Indian on the 15-member judging panel, says that he is looking for “images that tell a story. Candid photographs work best — they could be funny, ironic, strange or just capturing an occasion.”
So if you’re the sort that compulsively totes a camera around your neck and dreams of making it as a photographer, there are few better ways of finding out what your clicks are really worth.
For inspiration, here are the four Indian winners’ entries from 2010-11, and the stories behind them.
Just before the sacred dip in the Ganges (emerging talent award)
“It’s shocking to see the naked Naga Sadhus for the first time. I’d gone to Maha Kumbh Mela in Haridwar just to photograph them. I stayed with the sadhus for three days, even bathed with them at 4 in the morning. The day I shot this, I waited from 4 am to 11 am for this frame.”-Abhishek Hajela is a professional photographer.
Learning to fly (grand prize winner)
“I was in Benares in 2009. Sitting at a ghat, I noticed these two boys diving into the Ganges. I kept shooting — easily over 200 frames — as the sky slowly turned darker. It was sheer magic — the fading light, warm tones in the clouds, and the energy from the divers in silhouette.”-Debarshi Dattagupta is the managing director of a pharmaceutical company.
Solar powered human (third-prize winner in ‘Energy’ category)
“This was shot in 2010 near the Everest base camp, in the Khumbu region of Nepal. The locals there work as porters to earn daily wages. They often carry wooden pillars weighing 80-100 kg. There’s no electricity, so solar panels are needed. I saw this guy carrying a solar panel, with his slippers on top.”-Dhaval Kanada is a computer engineer based in Gujarat.
Demi Devil (emerging talent award)
“This was shot during the Durga Puja in east Medinipur in rural West Bengal. The Durga-Asur battle is enacted there. This is a photo of a guy playing the Asur (demon), attempting to scare the children.”-Sourav Karmakar is a junior photo official at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.