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LONDON, Apr 26 - RIA Novosti, Maria Tabak. RIA Novosti photographer Ilya Pitalyov has won one of the most prestigious prizes in world photography, the Sony World Photography Awards, in the Current Affairs category. The award was presented to Pitalyov on Thursday evening at the gala prize ceremony in London.
The series of photographs which brought Pitalyov success are called The Individual and Society. Reality versus Illusion. The judging panel chose Pitalyov's photographs out of the 122,000 works entered by photographers from 170 countries. In addition to the award, the RIA Novosti photographer was also given a prize of a Sony A99 camera. "The incredibly beautiful photographs show the citizens of North Korea at a celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of their country's founder, Kim Il-sung. The works include photographs of schoolchildren and soldiers at a ceremony to mark the official opening of a monument to Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, photographs of a military parade and footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un applauding from a screen during an official concert. Each photograph not only gives a glimpse of what life is like behind the veil of secrecy in which North Korea is shrouded, but enables you to feel the spirit of its people," reads a press release by the ceremony's organizers.
Ilya Pitalyov was born in 1970. Since 1986, he has taken photographs for several newspapers, from 2002 to 2006 he worked for Kommersant Holding and he started working for RIA Novosti in 2006.
Concert to mark Kim Il Sung’s 100th birthday
In response to a question by a RIA Novosti correspondent about what the entry rules for the competition which he won were, Pitalyov said that taking part in contests was a routine part of the work of a professional photographer.
"Usually the organizers of the big photography competitions accept entries at the beginning of the calendar year. The photos should have been taken during the previous year. The exception is large-scale projects, photo stories that have been created over a longer period of time. Photographs for such projects may have been taken over the course of several years, but the project should have been completed in the year preceding the competition."
Ilya believes that taking part in the competition is a fantastic opportunity to take stock, to take a fresh look at what has been done over the past year.
"Sometimes it happens that photographs or photo stories need to be put to one side, so that the photographer is allowed to gain a new perspective on them, to evaluate them differently. The work of a photo correspondent means having to rush all the time, and when you're in a hurry it's difficult to assess what you've done. It also happens that what you initially thought was such a big success doesn't stand the test of time and it turns out to be complete rubbish," the photo journalist explained.
Military parade to celebrate 100 years since the birth of Kim Il Sung
The Sony World Photography Awards is one of the biggest and most prestigious photography competitions in the world. This year's shortlist included several Russian photographers. They were Alexei Myakishev for his series of black-and-white photographs Kolodozero, which depict provincial Russia, the photo story by Alexander Zemlyanichenko Jr on the tragedy in Krymsk and works by Sergei Varaksin and Yulia Borisova.
Pitalyov admits that winning such a prestigious contest is very important for him.
"Of course this victory is extremely important for me. Even entries of photo stories that you submit but which don't win make you think about what you did wrong, what was left unsaid, what mistakes you made. Those are important markers for a photographer. And this victory helps me believe that I'm on the right track. At the same time I feel a need to maintain this high quality bar, continue working, look for new approaches, new themes, new ways of reflecting current affairs. As a photographer for a news agency I am always immersed in work on current news. But you have to find time and energy to work on longer projects. That's a very complex and important issue for me. I have ideas and plans for this year, and I hope that I can implement them," Pitalyov said.
The photographer said that news photojournalism is at the epicenter of historical events.
"Working in news photography enables me to be at the heart of things, to be a witness to major global events. Thanks to my profession I have been able to travel to many different parts of the world. I saw how the Arab world said goodbye to Yasser Arafat in Palestine, photographed the farewell to Pope John Paul II, documented the terrible consequences of the tsunami in Japan in 2011 and witnessed the clashes in Belgrade. The series of photographs about marine hunters of Chukotka came second in one of the categories of the China Press Photo International competition in 2011. It's an amazingly interesting profession and I couldn't see myself doing anything else. But photojournalism is just one part of the huge world of photography. I am very interested in the border between documentary photography and art. To be more precise it is a continual search for that more often than not elusive boundary where these two areas meet," Ilya said.
The photographs of all the photographers shortlisted and of the finalists will be on display at the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition 2013 in Somerset House, London, from April 26 until May 12. They will also be included in the Sony World Photography Awards album for 2013.
The World Photography Organization supports professional, amateur and student photography by offering photographers a broad platform to communicate and develop and also to demonstrate modern artistic trends in all genres of photography.
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