Honor Roll: Meet the Winners of the SanDisk "Share Your World" Photo Competition

By David Schonauer   Tuesday October 27, 2020

This year’s American Photography Open competition featured something extra.

In addition to the Open prizes, our partner SanDisk is awarding prizes for the company’s “Share Your World” photo competition. Today we can announce that photographer Claudio Piccolo is the top-prize “Share Your World” winner for his image “Flying Over the Sea” (at top), which features Zinga, a very athletic Australian Koolie, and Zinga’s owner, Sara Brueske.

The picture, which was also a finalist in the AP Open contest, shows that dogs are not just dogs, but superheroes.

Claudio receives a $2,500 cash prize in return for letting SanDisk use the image in marketing with photographer attribution for 18 months. He also receives a 1TB Extreme PRO Portable SSD and 3 128GB Extreme PRO SD Cards.

Claudio’s winning photo comes from a series called “Dogs In Action,” which features canines soaring through the air. “My goal with these photographs is to inspire people struggling with everyday issues like health, jobs, relationships with friends and family and so on,” he says. “With this winning photo, I wanted to motivate viewers by showing the dog releasing a lot of energy after exiting from the water and jumping perfectly in the air to do its job — catching the disc — as in real life people struggle everyday to figure their lives out, face health issues, job issues, and relationships with friends and family.”

“Flying Over the Ocean” was made in September 2019 in Scarborough Bluffs, in the Scarborough district of Toronto. “I planned a shoot at sunrise. I wanted something strong in the beautiful light and color of the early morning,” says Claudio, who lives in northwestern Italy. “I wanted to freeze the peak of energy released by the dog, showing every detail in the right position. The difficult part is that you must take the photo at the first attempt, because after that the dog is totally wet and probably will not fly so well anymore.”

Claudio came to photographer after a career as an aeronautical engineer. “Everything started when we got our first border collie at home,” he says. “Border collies are really active dogs and this brought me to play with my camera photographing them. I wanted to show their souls to all the world. Today I live with four border collies and I do many activities with them, like mountaineering, skiing in winter, and hiking in summer.” Claudio also travels the world teaching other people to photograph dogs in action.

We are also happy to announce the two runners up in the SanDisk “Share Your World” competition: Malaysia-based photographer Kok Tien Sang and Barcelona, Spain-based photographer Mauro De Bettio.

Kok Tien Sang, who lives in Kuala Lumpur, was selected by the contest’s judges for his image “Sky Warrior,” which he shot on a trip to Inner Mongolia in August of 2019. “It is said that a Mongol without his horse is like a bird without its wings. And this is really true when you are seeing so many horses guided by horseman at the gallop,” notes the photographer. “I like this photo very much as the horses are shrouded in a cloud of dust as they gallop forth and create an illusion that they are descending down from the sky.”

“I just started to learn photography four years ago, and I still consider myself a beginner,” says Kok Tien Sang. “But I have been lucky enough to win some photography competitions. I enjoy entering photo competitions, which I think are an effective way to evaluate how well I am progressing. I hope to use photography to showcase the beauty of the world we are living in.

Mauro De Bettio, a finalist in the AP Open 2018 competition, was selected as a runner up for his image “Life in a Pocket,” one of a series of portraits in a longterm project about the life of sadhus — holy people who have renounced worldly lives — in India.

“I took this portrait in 2019 during the Hindu celebration at the Prayag Kumbh Mela 2019 —  a Hindu festival held at Prayag Triveni Sangam, or meeting point of Ganga, the Yamuna and the mythical Sarasvati rivers — in Allahabad, India,” says De Bettio.  “The festival is held once every 12 years and has entered in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the largest crowd, with 250 million of devotees.”

De Bettio, who travels widely, says be became interested in sadhus during long journeys across India. “There are four to five million sadhus in India today,” he says. “Most make pilgrimages across the subcontinent, and many feel the need to stay close to the waters of the Ganges. My main goal was to understand their lives — to see what knowledge and experience help Sadhus live such isolated lives. It took me three trips to India to complete the project. Each journey lasted from a couple of weeks to a month. I visited 19 cities traveling through many of the northern regions by train, by bus and riding an old motorbike.”

Congratulations to Claudio Piccolo, Kok Tien Sang and Mauro De Bettio.


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