A picture is worth a thousand words, as the famous quote says. Today we spend hours watching content on social media. Photography has always been a relevant way to show humankind and may have been a reason that inspired the Crown Prince of Dubai to launch the annual Hamdan International Photography Awards (HIPA). Indeed, humanity is the selected theme for this year's HIPA, an event created in 2011 to encourage and develop art, culture, and innovation in the Middle East, especially in Dubai. It permits photographers from all over the world to express their creativity through a camera lens and an opportunity to recieve a generous prize for the winners: starting from five thousand dollars for the fifth place to $120,000 for the Grand Winner.
Bilap Hazra wins fifth place with his shot Rescue, showing a brave of a group of villagers in West Bengal rescuing an elephant that had fallen into deep water. Known for his pictures of elephants shot in India, Bilap wants to sound the alarm about our environment and the damage humankind cause by deforestation.
High Hopes represents lifeguards rescuing passengers of a sinking ship in the Mediterranean Sea. This shot by Fabrizio Maffei wins fourth place.
The top three starts with Blast Scars, a shot by Marc Abou Jaoude from Lebanon. The injured man is a truck driver who decides to come back to stand at the location where he was at the moment of the explosion two days ago. He realises he is still alive today despite the number of dead people.
The second place winner is Ilhan Kilink from Turkey. His shot illustrates the pain of being away from loved ones during the Covid-19 pandemic. The focus here is on healthcare workers, exposed to the front line. They can't go home and be reunited with their families, especially their children. It is a story that touches the heart and expresses humanity with great eloquence.
The first place winner is Danish photographer Mads Nissen. His shot entitled Hugs to Survive shows Rosa Luzia Lonardi, an 85-year-old woman hugged by nurse Adriana Silva da Costa Souza. It is the first hug Rosa had received in five months. In March 2020, nursing homes across Brazil closed their doors to all visitors, preventing millions from visiting elderly relatives, as authorities instructed people to reduce physical contact to a minimum. Thanks to a new and simple innovation called the hug curtain, people could see and embrace their loved ones without risking their lives. For those without visitors, volunteers and staff provided that humanitarian support. As they say at the nursery, Viva Beam, near São Paulo, "everyone deserves a good hug."
And the Grand Winner for the HIPA 2021 is… Ary Bassous for Duty. A strong picture shot at the University Hospital Clementino Fraga Velho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We see the face of Doctor Juliana Ribeiro, without her protective gear for lunch, after 8 hours of continuous work in the Covid-19 emergency room. Marks on her face reflect the extreme effort and fatigue due to the human commitment to her moral duty. We feel the sadness in her face as she feels the pain for the deaths in Brazil that have exceeded half a million people due to the pandemic. It is a relevant theme to remind us that, even in the bad moments, humanity is still stronger.