Winning Photos Capture Amazing Diversity of the Mekong River
When night falls, electric power lights up a renowned fish farm village floating on the Viet Nam’s Cuu Long (Mekong) waterways in the dark, with sparkling lights warmly embracing every family who relies on the Mekong to make a living. It conveys a profound meaning of life on water, offering a thought-provoking story of the historical connection between people and the river.
Hien Minh Vu captured this astonishing elegant image and won the first place in the first photo contest organised by the Mekong River Commission (MRC).
“Joining this competition is a great opportunity for me to convey a message to the public that we all need to join hands to protect this beautiful river for people to rely on for food and income,” the delighted awarded-winning photographer said at a ceremony organised at the MRC Secretariat in Vientiane in early December to celebrate the diversity of the Mekong River with the winning images.
Vu’s awarded shot was selected from 165 entries from 42 amateur photographers of the four lower Mekong countries – Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam – who joined the contest under the theme ‘Mekong Diversity through Your Eyes’ that ran from 7 July to 24 September 2017.
From sweeping landscape scenes to expressive portraits, the other images in the final 30 have similarly compelling stories depicting rich ecosystems of the Mekong River, various water use and unique livelihoods of riverine communities.
Among them include fishermen risking lives daily to hunt fish, trading on the river, sunset over a friendship bridge connecting Lao PDR and Thailand, a flock of black cormorants and the beauty of flooded forests – all of which represent the diversity of the Mekong basin. Each image evoked a powerful reaction from the judges.
“These images have something special that appeals to the viewers…there are images that change our perceptions and experiences,” Catherine O’Brien, Chair of the contest’s panel, expressed her excitement at the award ceremony.
Organised in conjunction with the exhibition of the top 30 photos, the award ceremony announced 12 winning images to present awards, including cash prizes from $50 to $500 for top 8.
With more than 70 guests including distinguished invitees from the ASEAN embassies and MRC’s partners watching it closely, every winner proudly stood in front of the guests to receive the awards when one’s name was called, widely beaming for photos opportunities. The ceremony boosted the Cambodian, Laotian, Thai and Vietnamese winning photographers with a sense of pride, joys and contentment.
“I am proud to see my photo displayed and get to know many people through this contest. It inspires me to take more photos showing how much the river is related to people’s lives,” said Khankeo Oupravanh, one of the two female winning photographers who got the third place for a picture of a lady waiting for her husband to arrive by boat every evening after selling fish caught from the Mekong River.
The 12 winning images are featured in the MRC 2018 calendar while top 30 photos are displayed in the MRC Secretariat’s lobby lounge for public viewing.
The exhibition continues to capture a genuine interest of the public. Visitors enjoy discovering the stunning beauty of the Mekong river and its water and related resources through the lens of the photographers.
“These photos represent the prize of the Mekong river...they touch my heart and remind how the precious Mekong water means to us,” said Kittipong Jirayoot, a visitor from Vientiane.
The photo contest and exhibition are part of the MRC’s Mekong Integrated Water Resources Management Project, funded by the World Bank, which facilitates cross-border cooperation on water utilization and management among the four lower Mekong countries. It is the first contest the MRC has organised to raise awareness of the importance of transboundary water collaboration for sustainable development of the region.
Although the contest was concluded, the photo exhibition will continue until 31 January 2018, and the calendars will be given away to first 100 visitors. For those who can’t visit the exhibition in person, an electronic version of the awarded photographs is available online: Link