In a photo titled ‘Snowing Heavily,’ Buddhist monks brave the cold at a religious ceremony in Gansu province. The wintry scene, captured by photographer Xie Longxiang, won the China National Award at this year’s Sony World Photography Awards.
One of 11 Chinese photographers shortlisted in the awards, Xie thanks the competition for providing Chinese photographers a “broad, global platform to display our works.” Shot as part of his series of religious scenes in China, the photographer notes that the photo took years of effort.
'Snowing Heavily' by Xie Longxiang
“‘Snowing Heavily’ captures the Buddhist Tangka, Shaidafo – a ceremony held on this day every year at Langmu Temple, which is also a beautiful town where half of the people are Tibetan and half are Muslim,” he explains.
“The mysterious ritual, unique geographical location and beautiful natural scene deeply attracted me. Over the years, I’ve tried to shoot this scene several times but the weather conditions were never ideal. Perhaps my sincerity moved the Buddha, and last year there was a lot of snow, which wrapped the whole ceremony in a veil of mystery. I am very pleased that years of unremitting effort have finally paid off.”
The global competition, overseen by the World Photography Organisation (WPO), runs in 60 countries. CEO of the WPO Scott Gray praises the winning work, commenting: “‘Snowing Heavily’ is an image full of feeling and intensity. The heavy snowfall mixed with the facial expressions of the subjects creates a mood of warmth and humor amidst the biting cold.
“It’s a beautiful photograph and well worthy of its National Award.”
With the competition free to enter for any photographer, Gray notes that the number of submissions from China has increased by over 450 percent in the past three years.
"We hope to inspire photographers and encourage them to push their creative boundaries"
Xie’s triumphant image netted a prize of RMB15,000 worth of Sony products, and is currently being shown in London along with other standout Chinese submissions as part of the 2016 Sony World Photography Awards exhibition. Other entries showcase an eclectic range of scenes from across modern China. Runner up Hu Weiguo goes inside China’s last working ancient brick kiln in Zhejiang province, while third-place winner Wang LiJun’s ‘Hitting Tree Flowers’ captures a five-century-old Hebei tradition where people spread melted iron onto the ancient city walls in freezing weather, creating beautiful sparkles.
'Heritage of The Chinese Ancient Kilns' by Hu Weiguo
'Hitting Tree Flowers' by Wang Lijun
Shortlisted submissions showcase contemporary issues, such as Fan Li’s look at left-behind children in western China, and Yong Anhe’s series on ‘The Death of Migratory Birds’ due to illegal nets. Others examine China’s rich history from ancient villages in Hebei (Cui Maoyuan) to destroyed Tang Dynasty tombs in Shaanxi (Hui Zhang).
'Left-behind Children in Western China' by Fan Li
'The death of migratory birds' by Yong An He
'Ancient Chinese villages' by Maoyuan Cui
'The Tang Dynasty tomb three series' by Hui Zhang
Fan Li documents Tajik life on the Pamir Plateau in Xinjiang, while Li Feng is granted access to an industrial complex devoted to taming and reproducing experimental macaques.
'Tajiks on the Pamir Plateau' by Fan Li
'Experimental monkeys made in China' by Li Feng
Not all subjects are so heavy, however, with Li Jiaye’s ‘Birth’ capturing Hangzhou’s West Lake at its most serene. Gray notes that the competition has four categories aimed at professionals, amateurs, students of photography and young people.
'Birth' by Li Jiaye
“We hope to inspire photographers and encourage them to push their creative boundaries,” Gray says. “The Sony World Photography Awards provides an incredible opportunity for any photographer who wishes to build a name globally.”
'Wind and Water' by Zhe Zhu
'Bulguksa' by Liu Chengliang
Submissions for the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards can be made at www.worldphoto.org/competitions