A Maltese photographer’s spectacular shot of a dark, ominous cloud won the top prize in the nature category of the first edition of the Malta International Photo Award.
Titled The Whale’s Mouth Cloud, the photo in question refers to the cloud that appears when the first gust front of a storm is passing over, explained Fredrick Muscat, who captured the image while on a trip in South Dakota, the US.
“I cannot forget that amazing scene. The conditions were dramatic… the storm was approaching and the wind gusts were high. I had to leave the area a few moments later as large hail was coming my way,” he recalled.
The outdoor and extreme weather photographer, who has pursued his passion on foreign shores but is based in Malta, is the cousin of renowned storm chaser Jimmy Deguara of Australia.
“Weather photography passion runs in the family and I gained a vast knowledge of this weather phenomenon from Jimmy,” he said.
At the age of 17, when digital cameras had not yet been introduced, he started chasing storms to take photos of lightning. Such a photo earned him his first award at a competition organised by a local radio station about 20 years ago. Since then, he won various other prizes, but considers the MIPA award to be the most important one in his portfolio and is also his first international recognition.
The annual MIPA competition aims to connect diverse cultures through photo-graphy. It is its goal to provide professional and aspiring photographers worldwide with a platform to share their passion with a broad audience.
The first edition attracted entries from over 60 countries, including Malta, Palestine, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Italy and the US.
A panel of photography and publishing experts from across the globe selected the winners, which received cash prizes and will have their entries exhibited at the Malta Postal Museum & Arts Hub in Valletta in the coming days.
Arne Hodalič, photographer and photo editor of the National Geographic Slovenija, and head of the MIPA jury panel of experts, commented that the works received were of very high quality. Prof. Hodalič also said that “even the larger selection of photos we have received could get published in the National Geographic magazine”.
The winners of the other four categories are: Mustafa Hassona of Palestine who won the People category with his photo Nation Resistance; Pedro Luis Ajuriaguerra Saiz of Spain, who won the Cities category with Twist Over the Guggenheim; Hardijanto Budiman of Indonesia, whose entry Red Soul took the first prizein the Abstract category; and Matjaž Krivic of Slovenia, who won the Storytelling section with Lithum: The Driving Force of the 21st Century.
Runners-up and second runners-up will also have their photos on display at the Malta Postal Museum exhibition which opens tomorrow and runs until March 16. Plans are in place to take future exhibitions to New York and London, among other major cities.
Plans are in place to take future exhibitions abroad
Prof. Hodalič will deliver a free public lecture titled ‘Adventure of a Lifetime: Becoming a National Geographic photographer’ at the museum tomorrow at 10.30am. The event is the first in a series of lectures and workshops by MIPA aiming to provide photographers with a deep insight into the profession.
The next Malta International Photo Award is scheduled to open during the first week of April. For more details, log on to www.maltaphotoaward.com.
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