THE AUTHOR’S REFLECTIONS ON SIGNS OF TIMES
Turkmenistan hosted the first-ever international photo salon in 2020. The international photo exhibition of achievements of photography professionals was initiated by Ashgabat’s Photo Club “Ferula”. The right to host the international salon had to be earned by continuous creative work. In the past, “Ferula” members exhibited their works at exhibitions in twelve countries and repeatedly won prestigious awards. This fact allowed the club to become a member of the International Federation of Photographic Art at UNESCO (FIAP from the French F'ed'eration Internationale de l’Art Photographique), consisting of national photo associations of different countries. This organization now accounts for over 85 national associations from all five continents.
In 2020, Photo Club “Ferula” got official permissions to hold an international photo salon under the patronage of FIAP and PSA (Photographic Society of America). The international photo club International Salons (IS) assisted in preparing and holding this large-scale event. International Salons is well-known for supporting photo salons in the post-Soviet space and other countries by assisting the organizers with reception and registration of participants and their works, producing commemorative signs, selecting juries and providing computer programs for online refereeing in the pandemic situation.
The announcement for applications for Turkmenistan’s first international photography contest was made on World Day of Photography, 19 August 2020. The applications were accepted in four nominations – free color photography, free black and white photography, travel and street photography. Prizes for each category included gold, silver and bronze medals of FIAP, PSA, IS and Photo Club “Ferula”, as well as honorary ribbons and three special gold medals from the jury. This is to say that each member of the jury had the opportunity to award a gold medal to the work of his liking, regardless of the opinion of other members of the jury. And the main prize – FIAP blue badge – went to the best author who presented works in all nominations.
314 contestants from 38 countries (Austria, Belgium, Germany, India, Russia, Israel, Turkey, Finland, USA, etc.) registered for the first Turkmen international photo salon, presenting 4738 works. Such a high level of representation ensured an extremely exciting contest and, at the same time, added to the complexity of the task of the jury. They jury panel was comprised of highly qualified photographers with many years of practice and the title of Excellence FIAP Master (EFIAP), including Sergey Mayorov (FIAP Commissioner for Russia, Moscow), Vyacheslav Sarkisyan (Ashgabat), Sergey Anisimov (Penza). The jury members evaluated the works online because of the pandemic situation.
It should be noted that it was for the first time that 11 master photographers from Turkmenistan took part in the international contest, presenting 112 works. Several photographers representing the host country made it to the final round of the contest, winning 3 medals and 4 prizes (ribbons of honor).
In the course of three days of the final round, 100 works were selected out of 4738 photographs in each of the four nominations. Each nomination provided for 17 awards of various levels from FIAP, PSA and IS. Ashgabat’s Photo Club “Ferula” established its own awards – 4 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze medals.
Master from Hong Kong Ching Ching Chan became the absolute winner of the photo salon, receiving the title of “Best Author” (16 of his works were accepted in four nominations). He was awarded the main prize – FIAP blue badge.
Two authors representing Turkmenistan won PSA gold medals. In addition, Alina Tolstikhina was awarded FIAP ribbon of honor. FIAP ribbon of honor was also awarded to Svetlana Krupskaya, IS ribbon – to Suleiman Charyev and PSA ribbon – to Akhmed Khallyev.
The uniqueness of this event makes us take a closer look at the works by authors representing Turkmenistan at the international photo contest. There is no doubt already now about the maturity and originality of their skills. It will not be surprising if we see their names in the near future among the winners and prize-winners of the most reputable contests and salons. Let’s meet them.
Vladimir Polyansky is one of the veterans of the photographic profession from Ashgabat. In his youth, he actively practiced mountaineering and mountain tourism, walking around many protected areas of Turkmenistan. His affection to the beauties of his home nature led him to photography. In everyday situations, as a thoughtful photographer, he knows how to find deep philosophical generalizations.
Before plunging into the world of professional photography, Svetlana Krupskaya received an art and architectural education that had a huge impact on her vision of the world. She traveled a lot and studied the life and culture of various peoples, actively using her camera. At some point, she began to understand that she lacked technical knowledge and skills, and then she took a course in professional photography. Now, she devotes a lot of time to the genre of street photography, landscape, conceptual, artistic shots.
Akhmed Khallyev is an artist-painter by education, a member of the Union of Artists of Turkmenistan. In photography, he is inspired by the portrait genre, still life and landscape. He takes interest in reportage and staging of compositions. His still life works can be compared with paintings, in which a camera is skillfully used instead of paints and brushes. He has successfully participated in many photo exhibitions, both domestic and international. He is an active contributor to the International Magazine “Turkmenistan”.
Already in his school years, Suleiman Charyev used to shoot big moments from the life of his family and friends. His ability to bring cheer and dynamics into a photograph came in handy for Suleiman both during his studies at the Turkmen State Institute of Culture and in his professional career as a photojournalist of the State Information Agency of Turkmenistan. His works are now widely used in periodicals, books and magazine publications. In 2009 and 2016, he was named the laureate of the art award of the President of Turkmenistan “Golden Age of Turkmens.” He is a regular contributor to the International Magazine “Turkmenistan”.
Akhmed Tangrykuliev has been in visual arts since childhood and even graduated from an art school as an artist-teacher. However, he chose photography, not drawing, as the main way of his creative self-realization. In 1982, he changed his amateur status to professional and accepted an invitation to become a photojournalist for the State News Agency of Turkmenistan. Working in a news agency, he traveled all over the country. His photo archive has images of cotton growers and carpet weavers, oil workers and fishermen of the Caspian Sea. Now he works for “Diyar” magazine as illustrator of publications. His favorite topics include folklore, national cultural heritage. He is an active contributor to the International Magazine “Turkmenistan”.
Alina Tolstikhina burned her way into the world of masters of art photography a few years ago. Having started her professional career at the Ashgabat photo studio “A-Studio” as an artist-retoucher of digital files of the studio’s photographers, she later turned to photography. Her very first participation in the largest international photo salon under the patronage of FIAP in Austria was successful. Alina won a gold medal. Her next success was at the prestigious International Photography Awards (IPA) contest of professional photographers in the USA, where her work received 4 awards in the nominations of advertising, fashion, portrait and people. Now, the student of the Turkmen photographic school continues improving her skills, attending master classes. She works in New York.
Nury Niyazov got into photography when he was an artist of the Opera and Ballet Theater. This fact largely influenced his art credo in the art of photography. He has never positioned himself as a professional photographer, but he can always be seen with a camera at concerts and in rehearsal rooms, at festive music and folklore events. He says his best photographs are those in which music is heard, dance is seen and mood is most pronounced.
Sergey Mirzoev has been into photography since childhood. For a long time, photography was just a hobby for him, but soon it became a professional passion. Today, he runs a photographic studio, receiving numerous orders for photographs in various styles, including portrait, landscape and art photography and reportage. Sergey is the winner of several photo contests that were held in the country. His photographs are widely represented in magazines and photo albums about Turkmenistan.
Ashgabat’s Photo Club “Ferula” managed to bring together the works by such different masters in order to present them as a colorful exposition of the Turkmen photographic art at the first international contest. On the results of their work, Photo Club “Ferula” was invited to take part in the fifteenth FIAP World Championship among clubs.