The Mega Bank Photo Competition 2067, termed as Nepal’s biggest photo competition was considered huge in more than just one way.
To start off with, it had the never before heard amount of total prize money worth Rupees 400 thousand for a photo competition in Nepal. The huge response it garnered with thousands of submissions also proved to be memorable for all participants, judges and viewers alike.
On the first day of judging held on May 7, judges, Senior photographer Gopal Chitrakar, Chairman of PJ Club Chandra Shekhar Karki, Editor-in-Chief of Nagarik Dainik Narayan Wagle, Executive Editor of Annapurna Post Gunaraj Luitel and Landscape Photographer Jagdish Tiwari toiled for 13 hours at a stretch and short listed 116 best photos from a total of 4,989 photos submitted by nearly 600 amateur and professional photographers.
“The judges first looked at each photograph through multimedia slides. In three rounds they selected 25 photographs each for each individual category except for the photo story. All selected photos were then printed and final decisions made during the second and third day of judging,” informs Bijay Gajmer, technical coordinator of the event.
Gajmer further added that throughout the processes, judges only had the privilege of knowing the caption of the photographs and were oblivious about the photographers since the organizers had a coding system for the photographs.
“Sitting through 13 hours of looking at photographs might sound tiring but for me it was a very enjoyable experience,” shared judge Luitel, “Not only did I get to see the beauty of our country but also revisit what it had been though in the past,” he opined.
On May 12, the announcement day, as almost every one of the grey t-shirt clad organizing members of PJ Club were running around dealing with last minute errands an excited crowd had gathered at Nepal Art Council, Baber Mahal.
Even during formal agendas like the welcome speech and seat taking ceremony, the ambience remained quite casual as it seemed that people in the Nepali photography fraternity were well acquainted with each other.
While some winners missed out on a chance to receive their prizes on stage for not being present, all other winners shared their victory amid a receptive crowd.
The most interesting winner’s reaction obviously was for the ultimate prize of Mega Bank Photo of the Year. An elated Yula Joshi, a fresh graduate of Journalism from S.M College bagged the prize. Before going on stage to receive her prize she sat frozen for seconds in disbelief, later she was seen hopping around, smiling and sharing her happiness on the phone.
After the chief guest for the program, CA chairperson Subhas Nembang clicked some photographs of the audience as the formal inauguration of events; the exhibition finally opened its doors to the crowd.
Ooohs and aahs about the photographs, mixed with personal comments about the judging and complaints about the display setting and framings filled the hall. CEO of Mega Bank Anil Shah, a passionate photographer himself, also blended with the crowd awestruck by an interesting collection of photographs.
He later told The Week, “One word I have would be ‘Overwhelmed’- overwhelmed by the quality of the photography I saw, considering the fact that it was not just professional but also amateur photographers who had participated; overwhelmed by the beauty of our country and overwhelmed by the despair in the photographs.”
The exhibition remains open till May 14 at the Nepal Art Council, Babar Mahal.
This is one exhibition not to be missed. The organizers also plan on exhibiting the selected 143 photographs in Nepalgunj, Biratnagar and Pokhara soon.
The winning photographs can also be viewed in the website at www.pjclub.com.np.