29 July 2021
29 July 2021 - Written by PhMuseum
Depicting a suspended and intimate family moment during the lockdown in India, the image is the recipient of the PHmuseum 2021 Mobile Photography Prize main prize. Discover the motivations behind the jury's choices!
Indian photographer Prarthna Singh took a picture of her mother’s routine of earthing exercises during the pandemic. A momento of universal intimacy that catches the judges' attention and granted the Indian photographer the 1st prize of the PHmuseum 2021 Mobile Photography Prize. Judge Alana Celii explains the jury's choice: "Prarthna Singh’s photograph of her mother in her garden practicing her daily exercise during lockdown perfectly encapsulates how we lived during the pandemic. While masterful in the way it was photographed, the image goes beyond the vernacular in that it feels almost otherworldly. Singh’s mother appears to almost be floating from the perspective in which the image was taken, and the color pink flows through the image from the walls to the lighting to the flower petals that are scattered on the lawn." On a similar note goes Sara Urbaez’s comment: “I’m deeply moved by Prarthna’s image titled “Mother.” This ordinary moment seems to transcend space and time with its exquisite lighting and perspective. In many ways, this simple moment captures the feeling of lockdown during the pandemic. It’s disorienting and the sense of longing is palpable. The way the color pink vibrates throughout the image is striking and adds to the complexity. I am truly in awe of how all the different elements work together to elevate mobile photography to a different dimension.” Judge Cristian Rahadiansyah further adds: “It tells you a lot about life during the pandemic: self-isolation, physical distancing, shrinking social space. But yet, Prarthna Singh manages to find a beautiful moment during this frustrating time. The result is an engaging contrast: the bird-view angle that strengthens the feeling of solitude and distant even in a domestic scene, while the color composition—the pink dress, roof and fence; plus the green grass sprinkled by flower petals—creates a poetic, happy tone.”
Stephanie Noritz is the recipient of the 2nd prize, with a photo of her family during lockdown taken remotely from Los Angeles with an iPhone. Judge Sara Urbaez explains the choice by saying that the image "is so well deserving of recognition, for its nuances and beauty that invite the viewer to reflect on representation itself. Through lighting and composition, each person in the image stands on their own but is also seamlessly interwoven, spreading a sense of family.” What emerges in a strong way in this case, is the potential laying in the immediacy of the medium, which enables it to capture a complex scene with apparent simplicity. “The thoughtfulness that this image contains, demonstrates how mobile photography can memorialize our loved ones in a striking and soulful way that is both complex and delightful. The more time I spend with the image, the more details start to appear”, concludes Sara. “It is a simple candid family moment - says Cristian Rahadiansyah - but the overall tone and ambience feel like a painting or a movie storyboard. What’s most surprising is that Stephanie created it remotely using a mobile phone. It is one of those alluring images which you can simply appreciate without understanding the context. Furthermore, I also believe that many people will wonder about the process behind it and if Noritz used any filter to craft it.”
At last, Mithai Afrige Chowdhury’s photo of a girl hugging a healthcare worker through a plastic sheet made it to the 3rd prize. As explained by Judge Cristian Rahadiansyah: "The photo captures an emotional moment that evokes mixed feelings. I can feel the happiness of the girl in the photo, but I also emphatize with the man embracing her. The most powerful element in the frame is of course the plastic partition—a new wall that divides the healthy from the sick. Apart from all that, the photo attracts attention thanks to its great color composition." Judge Alana Celii also commented: “Mithai Afrige Chowdhury's image of a child hugging a healthcare worker through plastic embodies the extraordinary moment we are living through. There is a hopefulness in the girl as she's smiling and holding flowers in her hand. Yet, she and the flowers are shrouded in plastic. What drew me to this image is the tension between hope from the girl, the stoicism of the man, and the plastic barrier between them. The quality of light and the reflection of the plastic gives the image an almost painterly quality.”
The jury also awarded nine Honorable Mentions to Homayra Adiba, George Kamelakis, Antonina Konopelska, Dimpy Bhalotia, Eli Karasik, Inna Sheketera, Blaire Hawes, Skyla Hillan-Schunemann, and Oliver Vedast.
You can see all the awarded photographs at phmuseum.com/m21 including those that will be featured in GUP Magazine, C41 Magazine, The Smart View, and on BuzzFeed News. Details of the images to feature in our third curated photobook and our collective exhibition at PhMuseum Lab in Bologna, Italy will be instead announced between October and November. Stay tuned, and our most sincere congratulations to all the applicants of this third edition!
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