Steven Pinker describes photography as “a kind of virtual reality; it helps if you can create the illusion of being in an interesting world”. For three Egyptian photographers, it has also been a way to create a better reality for themselves as they display their photographs at one of the world’s largest photography competitions: the Sony World Photography Awards.
Nader Saadallah, Ahmed Gaber, and Armand Tamboly are each competing in different categories to win the title of Photographer of the Year.
“This is like a dream come true,” Tamboly said about his nomination. “This is the most prestigious photography competition in the world and participating in it would be an honour for any photographer.”
In his submitted photos, Tamboly tackled the issue of stereotypes and closed taboos in Arab countries. He referred to this issue in a beautiful and thought-provoking series of portraits of men styled with feminine hairstyles. “With my photos, I want to raise awareness about social stereotypes by confronting our perception of masculinity and femininity,” he said.
Out of more than 230,000 photographers from 186 countries, the three were picked to compete in the categories of Open Arts and Culture, Youth Portraiture, and Professional Portraiture.
“This year we have witnessed a wealth of powerful imagery in both traditionally strong social documentary categories as well as in art and conceptual work,” CEO of the World Photography Organisation Scott Gray said. “It is wonderful that the medium can offer such rich diversity.”
Not all the competitors are professional photographers: 19-year-old Gaber is a student at the faculty of Commerce, University of Alexandria and photography is one of his main hobbies. Gaber spends his free time walking in the streets taking photos of random people and events; his submitted portrait is of street children.
The winners will have the chance to showcase their work at an exhibition in London as part of the 2016 Sony World Photography Awards in April and May. Their work will also be published in the 2016 edition of the Sony World Photography Awards book, along with a cash prize of $30,000.
The final winners will be announced at a Gala Ceremony in London on 21 April.
The competition is organised by the World Photography Organisation, an entity that provides a global platform across the photography industry to not only to raise the level of discussion about the subject but also to increase awareness and appreciation of this art form.