With over 250 photographs submitted from 21 countries, the ROSL Photography 2019 was a huge success. We received images from all around the world, presenting many different interpretations of the theme of style. As well as a huge geographical spread, there was also a range in the age of applicants (18 - 67) and an average age of 33. The conditions of entry ask that photographs were taken within the last 12 months and had a link to a current or former Commonwealth country, ensuring the range of images captured the contemporary Commonwealth of today.
All the images were judged by our panel of industry experts; Rakesh Mohindra, co-founder of pic.london; Renée Mussai, Senior Curator and Head of Curatorial, Archive and Research, Autograph Gallery; Germaine Walker, Director, Agent and Producer; Bryan Angelo Lim, Director, Singapore / qu’est-ce que c’est design; and Farah Mahbub, Photographer and Professor of the Photography Programme of the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in Pakistan. Our overseas judges, Bryan Angelo Lim and Farah Mahbub, received information packs about the photographers and judged remotely, while the London judges met at ROSL to discuss the images with Visual Arts Curator, Eilidh McCormick.
Isabella Agbaje, Holding Hands, ROSL Photography 2019 - Camera Winner
The winning image in the Camera category, chosen by the panel, is Holding Hands by Isabella Agbaje. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Isabella ‘izzyella’ Agbaje is a 25-year-old self-taught conceptual photographer. Influenced by her experiences living and studying in London, Dublin, San Francisco and Boston, she is currently based in Lagos. She uses photography to tell stories and showcase unique experiences of love and happiness in a society that’s hellbent on discord, anger and confusion.
For Isabella Holding Hands engages a community’s hope of oneness and mutual support with common interests through fashion and friendship. She believes that style is the manner in which we do things, predominantly judged by appearance, but as a photographer and stylist she is interested in form, function and symmetry in her image, “I chose to interpret the theme of this year’s ROSL Photography Competition reflecting style as appearance but also symmetry and continuity and unity.” Shot on the streets of Lagos, Nigeria, it captures an encounter at Ikate bus-stop with Saliu and Emmanuel who were on their way from evening Mass, dressed most fashionably in their Sunday best and discussing the ways in which “lagos dey hot, pesin no rest” — meaning the frustrations of Lagos are many and trying to advance in this society is a tireless task. The men are dressed in Aso-Ebi, (or “family cloth” in English) a West African traditional style that depicts individuality and solidarity as two sides of the same coin. Aso-Ebi is a style of dressing that ensures continuity in relation and identiﬁcation. The tradition revolves around culture and the dynamic nature of style and fashion to reﬂect identity, individuality and also shared interests. This style of fashion resonates as in the Commonwealth values of international cooperation and advancement. Commonwealth member nations have distinct cultural personalities, yet all share essential moral values and goals in economic and socio-cultural sectors. For Isabella’s photograph, Saliu and Emmanual arranged themselves in synchronicity under the leaves of a plant with the green edges framing their faces and eyes, their expressions showing a hint of joy.
Isabella has great plans for her £2,000 prize money; “With the generous prize from the ROSL, I will take to the innermost parts of Lagos to capture more experiences and authenticity like Holding Hands. It’s quite difficult to shoot street photography in Lagos, especially so as a woman. In broad daylight, there are numerous security issues and transportation mishaps that happen daily. Areas like Oshodi, Ojuelegba, etc. are known for their amazing visual stories but not as many documentary journalists and photographers are successful in capturing these mostly due to the harassment that ensues. However, the prize money will allow me to adequately prepare a very small team of locals that can bridge the gap and enable me to capture the visually compelling sides and stories of this exciting, engaging, effervescent environment.”
Zoral Naik, Pastel Dogs, ROSL Photography 2019 - Mobile Winner
The panel chose the image Pastel Dogs by Zoral Khurram Naik as the Mobile category winner. Zoral Naik is an award-winning Pakistan based photojournalist and documentary photographer. He graduated with a Bachelors in Design from Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture where he majored in Graphic Design and completed a minor in photography; his forte, and now primary medium of expression. His work, driven by his curiosity, investigates the stereotypes that surround many social injustices. Through his images, Zoral aims to create empathy and encourage discussion around his chosen topics. In his winning image he does not explore fashion but architecture and lifestyle with two stray dogs at rest on the front porch of a house in Steel Town, Karachi.
Amdad Hossain, Joy of Childhood, ROSL Photography 2019 - Madiha Aijaz Prize
The final winner was chosen solely by Farah Mahbub in memory of her friend and colleague, and our ROSL alumni Madiha Aijaz. Amdad Hossain won the Madiha Aijaz Prize for a young photographer of promise for his work Joy of Childhood. Amdad Hossain is from Bangladesh, is 20 years old and does photography as a hobby. In this third year studying Political Science, Amdad has been interested in photography from a young age, inspired by the work of Bangladeshi photographers that he saw while growing up. He has been taking photographs for 4 years and heard about the competition online. The theme encouraged him to go out with his camera and capture style in his rural village, Joy of Childhood was taken in a village near Sylhet, Bangladesh.
The commended images selected by the judges include; Aimee Birnbaum, Ana Caroline de Lima, Amitava Chandra, Saad Choudhry, Suditpto Das, Nwando Ebeledike, Nomsa Fakude, Aravindan Ganesan, Rukhsana Iqbal, Iman Jahangir, Juliet Kamanga, Ioana Marinca, Amos Miller, Zainab Nasir, Soumyabrata Roy, Mohammad Sohaib and Wandile Xaba.