Wrapping up its third edition, the Phoenicia Hotel’s Art Photo Competition awarded Marcia Gunning the first prize in an award ceremony and exhibition Tuesday.
The yearlong competition hosted 12 contestants, each vying for the top prize by submitting a single photo.
One photographer every month was invited to stay at the hotel for a night, during which they would take their snap.
The winning photo, “Golden Eye,” taken during Gunning’s May 2018 stay, shows a man dressed in formal sailor attire, talking on the phone, framed by a stone ring.
The photo appears to be inspired by the Phoenicia in the ’60s, when many spy movies were shot in Lebanon, usually with the secret agent’s cover being a sailor stopping in Beirut’s port. Many of these espionage films included footage of the Phoenicia Hotel, which may be where Gunning was shooting.
“The photograph seeks to promote a sense of mystery and discovery and to highlight the interesting and varied of things that occur at the Phoenicia Hotel,” Gunning told The Daily Star. “[I had] absolutely no idea before arriving at the hotel.
“The idea came from finding the tunnel window from an upstairs balcony,” she added, “and then afterwards I thought about filling the window with intrigue.”
Gunning says very little editing was done on the photo, preferring a natural approach to photography.
“I prefer my photographs to be true to the picture,” she said. “If you take a good quality photograph it can stand on its own.
“The only editing was to enhance the brightness and I cropped a little bit,” she added.
“It was amazing how the light from the tunnel window enhanced the photograph on its own.”
This year’s jury was made up of filmmaker-photographer Charbel Bouez, photographer Raymond Khalife, artist/writer Jeroen Kramer, photojournalist Emily Garthwaite, photographer Roger Moukarzel and seven others.
Speaking about the winning photo, Garthwaite said that it was the photographer’s ability to tell a story that went beyond the hotel’s architecture that won the judges over.
“The framing is very important that circle but more importantly is the relationship that you can see the figure has with the space around them,” Garthwaite said.
“Having been here for two weeks I know what the space feels like and I personally related to that image, the other ones not so much, as they’re much more based around the structure of the building, rather than how people interact with it.”
The winning prize is $5,000 plus an additional amount in dollars, corresponding to the room number they stayed in - $727 in Gunning’s case.
This year, PHAP also had two additional awards for second and third place.
The second prize of a Fuji digital camera was awarded to Tarek Haddad for his “Reflecting Time” - showing the hotel from multiple perspectives reflected in triangular mirrors and edited together.
The third place prize consisted of $500 worth of training courses at the Fine Art Photography Academy, given to Roudy Doumit for his “Tetromino P.” The photo shows part of the hotel’s exterior, with rooms lit up in different neon colors, made to look like a game of Tetris.
The PHAP exhibition is up at the hotel’s lobby until April 19.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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