By: Hyacinth Mascarenhas
As the holy month of Ramadan starts today, photography enthusiasts around the world are once again invited to showcase their skills, technique and personal anecdotes in the “Capture the Spirit of Ramadan” International Ramadan Photography Competition.
Hosted by StudioBasel for Creative Solutions, an international marketing and branding firm, the competition aims to ‘capture the spirit of Ramadan’ through photography to educate, enlighten and inspire viewers and participants around the world.
Fasting from food, water and other physical needs from sunrise to sunset each day, Muslims around the world observe Ramadan with family and friends “as a form of spiritual cleansing, self-discipline and empathy for the less fortunate.”
Basel Almisshal, founder and creative director at StudioBasel, says every Muslim in every country have their own Ramadan traditions, whether it is the special foods they break their fast with or particular social events they take part in with friends and family.
“Ramadan is a unique month in the Islamic calendar with significant values and practices and is celebrated with joy among Muslims across the globe,” Almisshal said. “What better way to let the world in on these colorful details than through beautiful photography?”
From people in prayer and holy places to iftar and suhoor foods, participants are encouraged to photograph all things Ramadan, from a documentary or even creative perspective. The competition is open to photographers world-wide over the age of 18. Winners will be awarded cash prizes and have their photos published online and in print.
Judged by a panel of international artists and photography experts, entries will be judged on the following criteria: impact and message, creativity, photographic quality, and technical expertise.
The annual competition attracted over 600 photo submissions from over 40 countries in its first year, and anticipates an increase in professional photography entries this year.
Almisshal also said the competition could be challenging for participants to develop “out of the box” shots that truly reflect their own unique traditions during Ramadan.
“For amateur photographers, we encourage them to have their cameras ready at all times and to not limit themselves to their home environment or local mosque,” Almisshal said. “We advise all participants to explore the entries from last year and to try to visualize every spiritual value of Ramadan for inspiration.”
Created as a platform for “Muslims to celebrate their holy month and for non-Muslims to learn more about the nature of Ramadan,” Almisshal said he hopes the competition will be a “lifetime project” for the company for which he has developed a long-term strategy to ensure that the competition remains vibrant, unique and encouraging every year.
“Photography is a fairly new medium of art for Muslims, particularly in the Arab world and with this competition we aim to contribute to the improvement of Arab and Muslim photographers’ skills and offer them a platform to share their work internationally and to be recognized for their art work,” said Almisshal.
Winners of the competition will be chosen on or around September 30th 2012, and will be notified via email and Facebook. Photo submissions will be accepted until the last day of Ramadan.
StudioBasel is also currently working with international partners to exhibit the top entries in world class venues in addition to publishing the second photography book “as a celebration of all participants’ creativity and support in this wonderful project.”
*Photo by Alaa Ahmed from Cairo