David Mould Photography
Scotland from Wellies

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"... and the winner is..." The Al Thani Award Prize week!!

Having had the honour, and I mean honour, having been selected to judge the Al Thani Awards for Photography in November… and expecting nothing more, you can understand my surprise when I received an unexpected Email inviting me and to the award ceremony for the competition in Doha, Qatar. So, with national costume of Kilt and accoutrements packed carefully and visa in hand, I flew to London in the company of section award winner, Robert Fulton, a photographer I had met briefly whilst doing a talk in Paisley, who knew that he was a section winner, but nothing more at that time.

In London we were joined by fellow Judge Gabriel O’Shaughnessy, and onward to Doha.

Little did I know at that time the week that lay ahead.

Next morning, whilst we were awaiting the other winners and organisers we left the Sheraton, where we were staying, and the venue for the Gala dinner, and set about exploring the City of Doha on foot… A high-rise spectacle, very reminiscent of a cinematic futuristic metropolis.

With the weather a balmy twenty one degrees and a pleasant onshore sea breeze, it was like a beautiful Scottish summers day, minus the cloud, rain and cold wind…

After a day of wandering and a visit to the cultural village for lunch we returned to the hotel to prepare for the Gala Dinner.

Respendant in my Scottish traditional costume, and getting more than a few curious looks from residents we made our way to the Gala dinner for the Al Thani Photographic Awards, in a hall surrounded by the images that we, the judges had seen a couple of months earlier and looked fantastic adorning the room, printed spectacularly, and wonderfully representing the climax of a great competition.

After dinner, and many interruptions for photo calls (and numerous compliments) with my kilt!!... We moved to the prize giving ceremony and, to massive acclaim, Grand Prize, $30,000 USD, a Leica M6 camera, a F.I.A.P gold Medal, a P.S.A gold medal, and a massive relief for me personally, having kept the secret since the judging, went to my fellow Scot, Robert Fulton, with his depiction of ‘Winter Trees’.... a beautiful mono landscape.

The Al Thani Award for Photography 2013 Robert Fulton Scotland "Winter Trees"

The rest of the evening was a blur of conversations, smiles, kilt talk, and representing Scotland as best I could in a Highland costume…

It was a fantastic evening and finished off this part of the competition wonderfully.

Robert and I and his winning image...

Robert and I and his winning image...

However, although the wards had been dished out, and the photographs taken, interviews for local TV given, the week was far from over… and although Robert, the winner, had previous photographic commitments to fulfil in other parts of the world, we promised to have a good time in the following days, on his behalf…

The V8 Toyota Landcruisers waiting to have half the air removed from their tyres...

And so began the second part of the prize, three days of culture, photography and adventure. Starting with a day in the desert and after the obligatory camel ride to warm us up... only then to be terrified by the locals, who proclaimed that they knew what they were doing, but, it would seem, who’s only goal was to terrify the life, or something else out of you by proceeding to, on any occasion, divert the course of the path through the south Qatar desert and launch their supercharged V8 Toyota Landcruisers over perfectly navigable sand dunes in order to elicit a terrifying response from the occupants.

Going sideways... 

It was no surprise to me that my driver, in his responsible job, was an airline pilot, but obviously missed being airborne on a daily basis, and felt compelled to rectify that in his 4x4…

It was simply stunning, and the terror, excitement and nervous laughter was only matched by the majesty and desolate beauty of the surrounding, which, on a sultry day in January were a manageable twenty two degrees and a photographers paradise.

We took lunch in a base in the desert, and returned there for dinner and, campfire relaxation and a liaison with Ali and his Camels… who, I Have to say, were the most patient animals I have seen under the instructions of a dozen or so demanding photographers determined to get that sunset image… I, for one, if I judge another competition, will never view another camel caravan picture without suspicion again!!

The classic desert shot...

The very patient Ali and his camels...

The perfect end to a wonderful and varied day…

Interesting Scultures in the cultural village...

Interesting Scultures in the cultural village...

Next day was more relaxing and found us in the Katara Cultural Village for a tour of the village and a view of the National Geographic photographic exhibition at the Qatar Photographic Societies gallery in the Cultural Village.

Along with an exhibition of modern art, where, almost predictably, photographers cannot wait to be ‘creative’

Photographers being 'photographers'...

Photographers being 'photographers'...

Dinner in a local Lebanese restaurant...

Later that day, in an open topped bus, under escort from about thirty or so Harley Davidson outriders, we proceeded to the Qatar Photographic Society as guests of the club, and my fellow judges, main prize-winners and I gave presentations to the gathered members and guests. We then proceeded to dinner at a local Lebanese Restaurant which proved a congenial and very pleasant end to the third day in Doha.

A view of our hotel, The Sheraton, from our morning Dhow cruise... 

A view of our hotel, The Sheraton, from our morning Dhow cruise... 

Day four, and our last day began with a trip on a beautiful traditional Dhow, wooden built and very comfortable… with a journey up and down the coast that provided us with spectacular views of the coastline of Doha and a relaxed and chilled cruise, topped off by the appearance of dolphins, although I do not think, even with the plethora of cameras, knowhow and equipment, that anyone managed to capture one on camera…

Doha from a Dhow...

Doha from a Dhow...

With the perfect weather, the sea breeze, and pleasant company, I could not think of a better way to spend a relaxing few hours…

dohaflag.jpg

The afternoon, however, found us in the Souk Waqif, and following a brief history, proceeded to tour the souk following the unstoppable and irrepressible Abdulrahman, our host in Doha... experiencing the unique sights, sounds, smell and noises that pervade the narrow alleys, streets and  squares...

We had been told that you could buy almost anything in the Souk, however, it was the first time that I have seen an adjoining street that caters only for Falcons, with several shops selling birds, and in the middle a ‘Falcon Hospital”.. such is there devotion to these creatures…

We finished with some time to stroll round the marketplace in order to soak up the Souk atmosphere! 

We said our goodbyes that night and reflected on a stunning week of adventure, critique, friendship all with a common love of photography and its appeal that brings like minded individuals together to share, compete and enjoy this eclectic passion for photography... I made many friend in the time I had in both Lunz, Austria and Doha, Qatar... and I ask that if this adventure of a lifetime appeals to you.. get your entries in soon as The TRIERENBERG SUPER CIRCUIT closes on the 14th March 2014 ... and this and many other similar prizes awaits the top winners... 

 

A special thanks to Chris and Ulrike Hinterobermaier, a wonderful couple and great organisers, who took a chance on a lowly Landscape Photographer , and gave him the best photographic experience of his life...  to date... until he actually wins the competition now that he can enter!!

See you there!!

David MouldComment