HIPA's Hope
donna ferrato
Mar 28, 2019
Being invited to Dubai for HIPA's 8th annual photography award as a judge was an honor.  I was one of five professionals who had worked alone plowing through endless images using HIPA's high-tech online rating system. We worked against a ticking time clock. No chance to question, discuss, or reflect. No captions.  Submissions were anonymous.  Generally, each category was amazing: wildlife, sea life, portraiture, and humanistic reportage. The theme was HOPE.  How to define one single image that represented a high minded lofty word was a challenge.

I believed the best photographer would show me something that defied the odds. I aimed to find hope thru the eyes of the photographer capturing what existed beyond the surface.

Being in Dubai was exhilarating. The event organizers were kind and generous. I had time to wander the streets of Dubai, to see with my own eyes a man-made 21st-century urban planning wonderland. I met new people, broke bread with them. Had the opportunity to show my work and discuss my point of view as a woman photographer working in a male-dominated society.

Here I’d like to share my memories and concerns about the city, the people I met, the hope of HIPA to have impact in the world, and, the first place recipient.

Photography has become a cannibalistic sport i.e. eating human flesh. People are more fueled by their desire for money and fame and seem to be unconcerned about the harsh realities of life in an unjust world. Photographers are becoming blasé and indifferent to telling stories which might illuminate dark corners across the world.

My hope is that photographers will wake up. The winner of the HOPE competition, Edwin Ong Wee Kee owes the mother of two everything and more. She deserves respect. He needs to know her name. He must go and find her. He must properly compensate her for being the world’s greatest living model, so he doesn’t end up in history books as a hit and run photographer. 

Finally, thanks to HIPA for finding and rewarding many perceptive, hardworking photographers. I was impressed with many of them. I enjoyed the process of judging this extraordinary competition.

The greatest photographs linger in people’s minds because they open people’s eyes. Photographs are reflections of who is behind the camera.

Donna Ferrato Photography

Donna Ferrato is an internationally-known documentary photographer. Photographer, activist, photojournalist. Living with the Enemy, Love & Lust, TriBeCa, Erotic Eye, Workshops, New York City-based. Stories of domestic violence and abuse, gender-based violence, women's rights, trans and transgender rights, portraits, rock'n'roll, guns'n'roses, nirvana
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