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2020 US$120K HIPA winners

Brazilian photographer, Ary Bassous, has won the US$120K Hamdan International Photography Award, the largest cash photo prize, for his image, Duty.

Ary Bassous’ $120K HIPA winning photo, Duty.

The photo shows Dr Juliana Ribeiro, a Covid-19 emergency room worker, with severe marks and blisters on her face after eight hours of continuous work treating patients at the University Hospital Clementino Fraga Velho in Rio de Janeiro.

‘Clear signs of prolonged and repeated use of this type of equipment appear on her face. Her features reflect great effort and extreme fatigue due to the human commitment to her moral duty. What grabs you is the hint of sadness in her face as she feels the pain for humanity, as deaths in Brazil exceeded half a million people due to the pandemic. Bassous said of the image.

This is the tenth HIPA contest, which is funded by the crown prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Each year the contest has a theme, with it being ‘Humanity’ in 2019/20.

‘Humanity is the most important thing a lens can capture. It is important to photograph and understand others and to be able to communicate that through photography, photography is a unique tool that gives us the ability to talk about others and show the conditions they are in and the feelings they are going through,’ said judge Gary Knight, co-founder of VII Photo Agency. ‘It is clear that this year’s winners have interpreted humanity in powerful and diverse ways. Photographing others in love, in crisis, or exploring the lives of others, is one of the most special things we can do as photographers. In sum, humanity is indeed the perfect title for the award; It is the most amazing celebration.’

The contest has five categories and several special awards, with each category winner taking home between US$15-$25K depending on the category.

No Australians scored a top place this year. Last year’s US$120K HIPA winner was Australian underwater photographer, Jasmine Carey, for her photo, Essence of Life, showing a humpback whale mother and her calf.

Next year’s HIPA theme is Nature. Here is a selection of category winning images, or view a PDF (22MB) of the entire shortlist finalists. Some cracking images in there!

Photo contest criteria

Organising group: Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum International Photography Award
Status/Objective: To show Dubai’s support and commitment to arts and culture through a massive photography contest.
Entry fee: Entry is free!
Prizes: A life-changing US$120K! Plenty of cash for category winners, too. A total prize pool of US$450K
Sponsors: No sponsors besides his highness sheik Hamdan.
Judges: Six photographers from around the world. South African photographer Brent Stirton, US photorgapher Gary Knight, Romanian photographer Catalin Marin, Saudi Arabian photographer Hanaa Turkistani, Bosnian photographer Ziyah Gafić, and French photographer Eric Bouvet.
Number of entrants/submissions: Undisclosed, but one entry per category per photographer. Given the cash prize and free entry, probably a huge number.
Categories: Four main categories, with three Special Awards.
Exposure: Winning images show in online gallery, and in media coverage.
Transparency: A tick of approval for transparency.
Communication: Contact details are readily available.
Estimated Gross Revenue: With no entry fee, it doesn’t look like this one generates much/any revenue.
Copyright standards: Photographer retains copyright.
Overall rating: This contest is a mind-melting philanthropy effort supporting photography, with a talented judging panel. When it comes to arts prizes or grants, photography doesn’t usually attract the same level of interest as other mediums. So it’s fantastic to see this support for photography. And as stated prior to the criteria, this contest has unearthed some fantastic work.

Humanity category winning photo, Hugs To Survive, by Danish photographer Mads Nissen. ’85 year-old Rosa Luzia Lonardi is hugged by nurse Adriana Silva da Costa Souza; the first hug Rosa has received in five months. In March 2020, nursing homes across Brazil closed their doors to all visitors, preventing millions from visiting elderly relatives, as authorities instructed to reduce physical contact to a minimum. But in Viva Beam, an old house outside São Paulo, a new simple innovation called the ‘hug curtain’ was allowed where people could see and hug their loved ones without risking their lives. For those without visitors, volunteers and staff provided that humanitarian support. As they say at Viva Beam, “Everyone deserves a good hug”.’


Architectural Photography category winning image, Melting Gold, by Indonesian photographer, Charles Saswinanto. ‘The unique exterior, with its golden sun-like architecture, melts into this photo taken of a building located in Incheon, South Korea.’


Black And White category winning image, The Social Distance, by Italian photographer, Giuseppe Cocchieri. ‘A concert before the Cocvid-19 pandemic. A famous Italian poet, Giuseppe Ungaretti, said that poetry contains itself a mystery, poetry cannot be called poetry if it does not communicate this sense of mystery. For me, photography, as for other forms of art, is above all this. Therefore, describing a mystery is not possible. The photographer, however, wants to share their emotions through an image, hoping that it can arouse the same feeling in others.’


Colour category winning image, Final Destination, by French photographer, Sameer Al-Doumy. ‘Migrants sit on a boat sailing in the turbulent waters between Sangat and Cap Blanc-Nez (Cape Blanc-Nez), in the English Channel off the coast of northern France. They are trying to cross the maritime border between France and the United Kingdom on August 27, 2020.’
Portfolio category winning image, Above the Polar Regions, by French photographer, Florian Ledoux. ‘The Arctic and Antarctica are both facing a range of quick changes. These regions are clearly challenging places to live, and the few animals that make it their home have adapted to face the extreme winter conditions. This series reveals and celebrates from an aerial point of view, the beauty of the incredible frozen landscapes and the wildlife living at the edge of the ice. Powerful yet fragile.’

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