Lal Nallath Image Credit:


One of the most recognisable art pieces around the world isn’t a landscape image or an abstract installation – it’s a portrait painting of a woman who is gazing right at the viewer: the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.

Made in the early 16th century, the portrait is still a point of discussion and debate today, with art historians, students and the general art enthusiast scrutinizing the secret she holds in her enigmatic smile.

People make for intriguing subjects. When photographing people in the UAE, it is vital that you take their permission before doing so. Then, let them go about their business as you observe, and keep the camera at hand, ready to click.

Robert Caputo, author of ‘Photography Field Guide: People and Portraits’, says the key to photographing candid shots of people is to be unobtrusive and observant.

“An important element in people photography is knowing your subjects well enough to be able to anticipate what they are going to do. It’s the only way you are going to be able to get pictures of it. If you wait until you see it, it’s too late. The key is to watch people carefully. Always have your camera ready. If you’re going to be shooting in one situation, set the aperture and shutter speed in advance so you don’t have to fiddle with them while you’re shooting. Watch people through the viewfinder. If you’re paying attention, you’ll sense what’s about to happen.”

In February, our reader photographers made people their works of art. Picture Editor K. P. Devadasan picked the top three winners of February and here, we present the photographs that stood out from the rest.

Editor’s note: Do you want to participate in our monthly Reader Picture Competition? Send us your best photographs, with captions, at



Lal Nallath is a photographer and designer, based in Dubai.

In his home town of Thiruvananthapuram, India, he said one of the best spots for photographers is Shankumugham Beach.

His winning picture is of fishermen hard at work, along the shoreline. Nallath said: “Often, I visit this place in the morning, and one of the sights I always come across is this activity of fishermen pulling in their catch. Here, a few fishermen pull the rope end of the net as a team. It’s a huge net and it is often pulled by two sets of teams.”

Reason for winning:

For Picture Editor K. P. Devadasan, the rich colours of the image make it come alive.

He said: “The photograph has beautiful details, with great depth of field as the line of rope takes the viewer further and further into the image. It shows a perspective of fishing that is not often seen.”


Manu Reghurajan is a senior engineer, based in Dubai.

He took his winning portrait picture in Ladakh, India, of an elderly woman. He said: “The face is the mirror of the mind, and I truly experienced this on my trip to Ladakh. When I first met this elderly lady, she was carrying two large buckets, full of water. Aged 85, she was in perfect healthy and very active. When I asked, she posed for photographs cheerfully.’

Reason for winning:

The black and white portrait creates an immediate focus on the woman’s facial features, with every wrinkle and furrow emphasized.

Picture Editor K. P. Devadasan said: “The focus on detail is so extensive, you seem to see the texture of the woman’s face. Her emotions are visible and the expression is well-captured.”


Allan Mathew is an accountant, based in Sharjah.

His photograph is from Liwa, Abu Dhabi. He said: ‘I took this shot at Al Dhafra Camel Festival, during dinner time. I saw these gentlemen enjoying the chilly evening, by the warmth of the fire.’

Reason for winning:

People huddling around a fire for warmth and conversation on a cold winter night – it’s an image that deserves to win because of the many ways it could have gone wrong.

Picture Editor K. P. Devadasan said: “The reader photographer has used perfect exposure. It could have been a much darker image, because of the limited light, but the reader has focused on making it sharp. He draws in the viewer into that circle of available light.”