Sunday February 17, 2013
Malaysian pixmen bag prizes at World Press Photo Contest
By ISABELLE LAI
PETALING JAYA: Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei stares intensely into the camera as he snaps a photo of photographer Stefen Chow, creating an award-winning shot which was lauded at the 56th World Press Photo Contest.
Chow, a Malaysian photographer based in Beijing, had been commissioned by Smithsonian magazine to photograph the famous artist, who was detained for three months in 2011 for speaking out against the ruling communist party.
“This is a habit of his to photograph people who come from different corners of the world to photograph him. It was instinctive on his side to pull out his camera and instinctive on mine to capture that moment,” Chow said.
Chow, 33, was honoured and humbled that the photo won him second prize in the staged portraits category.
“By looking at the picture, I want people to feel like they have spent time communicating with him and understanding the man himself. I try to give as unbiased and transparent a view as possible,” said the acclaimed freelance photographer, whose clients include Time magazine and The Guardian.
Another Malaysian Dr Chen Wei Seng, 51, bagged first prize in the sports single action category in the contest for his vivid shot of the popular Pacu Jawi (bull race) in Indonesia last February.
Waiting for hours under the sweltering sun, he was rewarded when he managed to capture the thrill and joy on an Indonesian jockey's face at the end of the race.
The shot is dramatic and colourful, depicting the bare-chested jockey clinging on to two bulls' tails as they charge along a wet padi field, with water and mud splashing around them.
“I feel great. I've won prizes before but never in such a big contest. The recognition will surely boost my applications for job assignments,” he said, adding that he had sold his work to international agencies before.
Remarkably, Dr Chen is not just a photographer. He also has a medical practice on weekdays and serves as a preceptor to train medical students in family medicine.
“It's not only work to me, but also a lot of fun. Because I work in a private practice, my evenings are spent with my children while I go on photography assignments on weekends,” he said.
Dr Chen has picked up prizes at the 2012 International Photography Awards and the 2012 International Loupe Awards, and is one of the official photographers for the Asean Basketball League and 2013 Malaysia Golf Open next month.