Never has photography been as popular a hobby as now. The proof is in the results of the 36th FIAP Youth Print Biennial 2014 held in Cologne, Germany by the International Federation of Photographic Art (FIAP) where Oman won two World Cups.
Members of the Oman Photography Society, affiliated to Sultan Qaboos Higher Centre for Culture and Science, came first in the U-16 and U-21 categories. In the U-16 category, the sultanate won 216 points out of 300 in print images while Germany came second with 209 points and Austria third at 196 points. Oman won 210 points in the U-21 category with Italy winning 199 points and Germany finishing in third position at 195 points.
Oman's photographers won three awards in the individual categories. Anas bin Mohammed al Dheeb won the gold medal in the U 21 category while Thuraya bint Mohammed al Sulaimi won the bronze medal. Yousef bin Said al Shuaili won the bronze medal in the U-16 category. Yousef's photograph Horse Racing was shot at a village in Bahla. His father Said al Shuaili helped him capture the moment on his Canon 7D. "I love photography," the teenager said, adding that since the win he's been receiving quite a lot of 'Mabrook' wishes from his friends.
Isra al Hinai, who participated with a conceptual photograph in the U-21 category, said it was an idea with a political message. She used her brother Ahmed as a model, clicking the frame in 15 minutes but spending over five hours editing it. The photograph depicts the common man in many countries who has the drive to achieve his dreams but has to be part of the lucky few selected by their governments to make it possible.
"My family has been the most supportive, reminding me that I should work hard," the Sultan Qaboos University student of geophysics said. Isra took up photography just a year back, inspired by photographer friends in her social circle. Her entry has done them proud, she said.
Mohammed al Shukairi's entry Old Face was the result of a chance encounter at Muscat Festival early this year. "He didn't speak Arabic but we communicated in the little English we could and he agreed to be photographed. I was attracted to his traditional attire," Mohammed said.
A student of engineering at Higher College of Technology, he has been a photographer for five years, his Nikon E7100 being what he calls 'my best friend'. "I saved up and got my father's help to buy it," he said fondly. The camera is what keeps Mohammed busy over the weekends as he looks for interesting faces to capture.
"I enjoy doing portraits," he noted, adding that he hoped to own his own studio one day.