In a game of patience, physical endurance, timing and a whole lot of luck that often ends in breathtaking visual narratives, the real challenges faced by photographers is best known only by them. The Sony World Photography Awards acknowledges this by providing a platform for the art form and is considered to be one of the world’s most prestigious competitions that brings recognition and rewards the best contemporary photography across the globe. In an incredible feat, the works of six Indian photographers have been shortlisted among 270 others for the 2016 competition.
The renowned competition invites photographers to submit their best single shots or series of work in a number of different categories, which are then judged by the World Photography Organisation and a selected jury from the World Photographic Academy comprised of the industry’s grand masters.
There were a record-breaking 2,30,103 photographs submitted across 186 countries this year. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on April 21 in London, with shortlisted images being exhibited at the city’s historic Somerset House from April 22 to May 8.
In conversation with Scroll, the photographers gave insights into how they went about capturing their perfect shots. All images and captions via Scroll, courtesy the individual photographers and Sony World Photography Awards 2016.
Prakash SinghProfessional Landscape Category (two photographs)
[This photograph was taken] during a very quick trip to Oman with my friend. It had been raining and the chances of the wadi (valley) being flooded were high. We were told not to take the risk to go up to the mountains as the roads could be treacherous, and there were also chances of landslides. We decided to go ahead anyway and after two to three hours of roaming around in the unknown mountains, we found this awesome place perfect for camping. It was completely dark and I could see all these stars with my naked eye. It was such beauty. It was like staying at a billion star hotel. Luckily, I happened to have my Sony A7R Mark II camera with me and I clicked a picture. In photography that one decision of whether you take a risk or not, sets you apart from the rest.
This was taken in Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. I was there hosting a photography workshop. One morning, we decided to take a car and go out to catch a glimpse of a lion. Just a few metres from the hotel, we saw this family of giraffes. Giraffe sightings were considered normal enough since they came near our hotel often at night. We had almost passed when I decided to stop the car and take a quick shot. I took only three photographs. When I sat down to edit, of those three, this became one of my favourites. I simply love the natural habitat they are in. Sometimes the most easy shot can make the best shot. Photograph by Prakash Singh/2016 Sony World Photography Awards.
Abhijit BanerjeeOpen Travel Category
I had visited the Gangasagar Fair in 2015 with a couple of friends who were also photographers. On one of the mornings, I saw a group of sadhus taking a holy dip in the sea. I followed them into the water and was up to my knee [in water]. While waiting for them to resurface, I caught sight of this group of women to my right. They must have been around 25 feet away. I immediately turned and took a photograph from a low angle. This image made it to the shortlist. Photograph by Abhijit Banerjee/2016 Sony World Photography Awards.
Jaydip BhattacharyaOpen Smile Category
I captured this image in a remote village in eastern India where the advancements in modern science and technology are yet to reach. The faces of these poor children – brother and sister – clearly reflected the joy of some newfound knowledge. The girl stood and watched while her brother rotated the globe with his fingers. They seemed to understand the fundamental phenomenon of earth’s rotation on its axis. When you learn a new fact and really understand it, it brings an innocent smile to your face. This is the true aim of education. When I looked at the smiling siblings through my viewfinder, I instantly realised that I was witnessing a perfect moment that can only be termed as the joy of learning. Photograph by Jaydip Bhattacharya/2016 Sony World Photography Awards.
Nikunj RathodOpen People Category
This picture is a memory that will never lose its colour. While cycling one afternoon, I came across some kids who were aiming for birds in the sky using a slingshot. I managed to convince them to demonstrate their shooting skills by aiming for an empty bottle. Surprisingly, the situation became quite competitive. This photo was taken then. I thought of capturing the uncondensed energy of this kid who looked so vigorous and heated. At that time, I was also working on a short film, Tendulkar. I was searching for a child in the same age group as the one in the photograph to feature in the film. He agreed, and we decided to meet the next day for a workshop. In Tendulkar, his role was appreciated the most. Photograph by Nikunj Rathod/2016 Sony World Photography Awards.
Anasuya MandalOpen Travel Category
Bryce Canyon is at an elevation of about 9,000 feet. The wind chill is insane at such a height, bringing down the temperature to about -17 degrees Celsius. Still, we somehow managed to steady the tripod, set up the camera and shoot as the sun was peeking out over the horizon, illuminating the hoodoos (a type of rock formation). This particular picture was taken about half an hour after sunrise – the red, gold and yellow of the sandstone columns below caught the sunlight at different angles. I think my fingers were numb at this point because this was the first time I was shooting in such chilly conditions. I was totally not prepared for the frigid onslaught. We went and bought hand-warmers and an extra set of gloves for ourselves for our hiking and photography endeavors for later that day. That morning stands out as one of the most surreal experiences of my life. Photograph by Anasuya Mandal/2016 Sony World Photography Awards.
Sanghamitra SarkarOpen Low Light Category
I took this picture on All Souls Day (November 2). I came across nuns offering candles and prayers at a friend’s grave in a cemetery. The silent respect towards the departed soul and the sorrow behind the silence compelled me to capture the moment. Photograph by Sanghamitra Sarkar/2016 Sony World Photography Awards.