Water—this was the theme of this year’s HIPA photography contest. The awards were announced on June 7 and the Grand Prize of 120k dollars went to Jasmine Carey from Australia for her stunning and ethereal photo of a mother Humpback whale sleeping beside her 2-week-old baby. Carey took the photo while underwater in the Kingdom of Tonga, in the South Pacific.
"When the clouds started to roll in, it really softened the light and the mood in the water. It almost felt like what could be an out of body experience, floating on the surface looking down, observing the mum and calf being so comfortable, raw, and true towards each other. They obviously were aware of us but did not let that inhibit their bond. Watching it unfold, I knew it was magic and I just hoped that I would be able to do it justice. It definitely hard al the makings of a beautiful image," Carey told Bored Panda about how she took the magnificent photo.
"Being close to whales is the ultimate wildlife experience. To have an animal the size of a bus acknowledge your existence and be curious of you and genuinely interested is like nothing else. All your emotions what to erupt all at once and yet you feel cleansed of all life’s 'problems,' all the heaviness on our soul just melts away. They really put things into perspective and give you so much joy." Read on for the rest of our interview with Carey and for our chat with HIPA. Scroll down to have a look at Carey's amazing photo, as well as the other best photos from this year’s photography contest. And remember to upvote your faves and let us know in the comments which pics were your favorites and why.
Mobile Photography: 2nd Winner, Budi Gunawan
Carey told Bored Panda that she was in complete shock when she found out that she won the Grand Prize. "I’m so honored to be acknowledged, to be the first female and first Australian to be awarded the Grand Prize. I am overwhelmed and grateful for everyone’s positive response, their congratulations and messages. I have really tried to thank each person individually," she shared how happy she is.
"I absolutely love capturing images. I never thought it possible for me to do what I am doing now. I use my images to share the wonder that I see. I do believe that a photo speaks all languages. It can evoke such great emotion, strength, connection and unity," Carey revealed her thoughts about photography.
General (Black And White): 3rd Winner, Sujan Sarkar
General (Black And White): 1st Winner, Talal Al Rabah
General (Color): 3rd Winner, Rashed Al Sumaiti
"In today’s world, there can at times be a disconnect where there is too much language and talk with not much action. Photography can be that visual vehicle to showcase the stories of required action, results, solutions, and support. I hope that when viewing the images they feel like that they are with me and then understand why it’s so amazing, why the animals mean something, that they too live a life that we get to peek into for such a brief moment. I hope that my images brings the characters and magic of the ocean into their hearts."
Carey added that the commitment that Dubai has to the arts through HIPA is "amazing" and she commended their mission to spread the culture of photography across the world.
HIPA, or the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award, is in its 9th year and is one of the most lucrative photography contests in the entire world. This year, 450k dollars were given to the best photographers who entered the competition. HIPA is put on every year by the crown prince of Dubai.
General (Black And White): 2nd Winner, Anna Niemiec
Water: 1st Winner, François Bogaerts
Representatives of HIPA went into detail with Bored Panda about how their judging process is done each year. "Judging, according to our principle and mechanism, is done according to the judges' evaluation of the photos through points. Our priority is to make them enjoy their work without encountering difficulties. Our judging system is based on four main stages:
- Stage 1
The process begins with screening (filtration) of received photographs which have passed the 3 days buffer period (where competitors are able to change their submitted photographs). In this stage, we have three judges who check all submitted photographs and check their compatibility with our rules and regulations. (Photographs here are marked either as qualified or disqualified).
- Stage 2
Qualified photographs then move on to the first stage of actual judging by a group of three judges, and the judges here give a score for the photographs between 1 and 100. Each judging group handles a specific category and in turn judge on selected photographs.
- Stage 3
A percentage of the photographs (percentage differs according to total number of photographs) will be transferred to the third judging level where all the judges (usually 9) give another score between 1 and 100.
- Stage 4
The HIPA team will also begin the verification process of participants within a certain time frame. This will include request of legal documents such as model release forms and ownership statements in addition to copies of identification cards and/or passport copies."
Mobile Photography: 1st Winner, Apratim Pal
Mobile Photography: 5th Winner, Navin Kumar
Mobile Photography: 4th Winner, Fahad Faraj Abdualhameid
HIPA representatives told us: "Judging points from 1 and 100, the total points simply determine the winner, and the comprehensiveness and diversity of expertise, knowledge and background of the judges lends impartiality in its best form to the process as a whole. That said, looking at the grand prize winning photos, we find that they are all in a league of their own."
They continued: "They are distinguished by the strength of their subject, the craftsmanship of their submission, and the overall aesthetic integration. These factors create a kind of unanimous consensus among the judges which is reflected in the number of points each awarded the submissions, so their chances of winning the grand prize are greater than that of their competitors."
The next competition will be HIPA's 10th season! "It will definitely be different and distinctive and will have something new to offer to all its participants around the world, so stay tuned!" We can't wait to find out what HIPA has in store for all of us photography lovers.
"As HIPA, we would like to give some advice to everyone who feels a special relationship with his or her camera. If you love photography, keep shooting every day. Exhaust your lens, your mind, and your imagination. Continue your photography to make the world better and more beautiful. Don’t stop taking photos and let it bring you and everyone around you joy. Be an ambassador for happiness and success, push your limits and make a difference!"
Water: 3rd Winner, Buchari Muslim Diken
General (Color): 2nd Winner, Yose Mirza
Mobile Photography: 3rd Winner, Abdullah Alshathri
While Carey took home the Grand Prize, Belgian photographer François Bogaerts won the ‘Water’ Awards’ first place. Shantha Kumar Shivam Laila from India took second place and Buchari Muslim Diken from Indonesia took third place.
Meanwhile, photographers Fahad Al Enezi from Kuwait, Yose Mirza from Indonesia, and Emirati photographer Rashed Al Sumaiti took first, second, and third places in the ‘General–Color’ category.
HIPA explained that this year’s theme was water because it might be the oldest companion of humankind: our bodies are made up of water and it’s a necessity in our daily lives.
“From nature to nurture to science and discovery; water is central to our universe,” the contest described the importance of water. “Photography not only photographs the present, but in time creates a rich archive of the past and even inspires the imagination for the future. Water as a theme provides an endless and provocative subject that captures the photographer’s imagination and inspires an opportunity for photographic brilliance and storytelling.”