photography of Shabir Mian
Shabir Mian's photograph was chosen as the single best picture from Pakistan for the Sony World Photography Awards


By Drew McLachlan

A Pakistani photographer recently recognised by the World Photography Organisation explained to Eastern Eye the concept behind his award-winning shot.

Shabir Mian’s photograph of a schoolboy from Lahore was chosen as the best single picture from Pakistan at this year’s Sony World Photography Awards.

Mian started pursuing photography five years ago in order to “capture the human spirit”. He said that despite shooting the picture in his hometown of Lahore, he feels that it portrays a temperament expressed by children universally.

Pakistani photographer Shabir Mian said he chanced upon his award-winning shot while working in the area (Photo credit: Adeel Chishti)

Mian said: “One day I was in this spot for some work, and it started raining. The boy was running over the railway tracks, coming back from the school towards his home. He didn’t know about any trains; whether they were coming or not.

“He was wandering with happiness and running on the tracks and enjoying the rain. I wanted to capture that moment, to capture the happiness and fearlessness in the child. That picture represents children of that age around the world.”

The recent accolade is Mian’s first international award, and he said it is his dream to sell his photograph to one of London’s art galleries.

Held by the World Photography Organisation, the Sony World Photography Awards spans 183 countries and a number of diverse categories including architecture, wildlife, street photography and portraits.

The winning shots this year were chosen by a panel of judges led by British photographer Zelda Cheatle, who evaluated 227,596 entries.

Birmingham-based architect Tim Cornbill’s photo Oculus was chosen as the winner of both the UK national award and the open architecture category.

Depicting a large concrete building erected on the River Spree in Berlin, Cornbill recalled the moment he shot his award-winning photo.

Tim Conrbill's photo "Oculus"
Tim Cornbill’s award-winning “Oculus”.

He said: “Having just arrived in Berlin on a bright summer’s day, my wife and I decided to take a morning walk along the River Spree. We soon came across a large concrete building, and I was immediately struck by its geometry and scale. Across the river, I positioned myself for a single point perspective and waited for the right moment to capture it.

“A couple came into the viewfinder and I noticed the cyclist out of the corner of my eye. I waited for them to move into the frame and hit the shutter to try and balance the composition.”

Open competition chair Damien Demolder praised Cornbill’s photo for its composition and sense of scale, referring to it as “a stunning piece of graphic architecture… I love the monochromatic colouration that emphasises the architect’s careful mix of shapes and lines”.

Many of the winning photographs, including Mian’s and Cornbill’s, will be on display at the organisation’s annual exhibition, which this year will also include a selection of work by British photojournalist Martin Parr.

The exhibition runs until May 7 at Somerset House in London.

It will feature the winning, shortlisted (top 10) and commended (top 50) photographs from each category, as well as the winners and runners-up of each national award, which includes the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

You can see all of the winning and shortlisted pictures from the Sony World Photography Awards here.