Azerbaijan: Sport in Focus exhibition showcased in Istanbul’s luxury Istinye Park

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In celebration of the imminent Baku2015 European Games, the 65 shortlisted and winning images in 'Azerbaijan – Sport in Focus' competition have gone on exhibition at the Istinye Park shopping centre in Istanbul. The competition was an initiative of The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS).

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The 65 shortlisted entries for the 'Azerbaijan – Sport in Focus' competition, an initiative of The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS), have gone on exhibition at Istinye Park (http://www.istinyepark.com) in Istanbul – one of the city’s largest shopping centres that attracts an estimated 65,000 visitors per day. These striking images can be viewed on Level Z from 6–12 June during normal shopping hours.

The topic of the competition reflected Azerbaijan’s forthcoming hosting of the inaugural European Games, which will take place across the country from 12–28 June. The photographers were invited to capture such themes as Azerbaijan, sport, universality of sports and the meaning of the Baku2015 Games. Around 6000 athletes from over 50 countries are expected to participate in the Games, competing in more than 20 sporting disciplines. Of these, 16 sports will offer qualification opportunities for the Rio2016 Olympic Games.

After painstakingly sifting through more than 300 entries from ten countries, submitted by over 50 photographers, the iconic image 'Towards Glory' by Azerbaijani professional photographer Dilaver Najafov was selected by a panel of three leading photographers as the competition winner.

Dilaver is one of the few Azerbaijani photographers to have devoted his entire career to the art of photography. He initially became interested in the art form during his childhood, following the purchase of a camera and other photographic equipment by his father. He is renowned for capturing the essence of sporting achievement, and has worked as staff photographer for the Azerbaijani Ministry of Youth and Sport for nearly 20 years. His work is frequently included in the official periodical of the Ministry.

The second prizewinner was 'Ipanema – Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)' by Paris-based French photographer and videographer Paul Robion, a former journalist, who strives to achieve naturalistic photographs. His evocative, sepia-toned, virtually silhouette image encapsulates the enormous popularity of football amongst the Brazilian population.

The third prize was won by Azerbaijani photographer Rufat Abas, who specialises in street photography, for his photo 'Final Instructions', which captures a tense moment at the start of a Formula 1 race. In 2012, he published his first book 'Life in Black and White' and last year saw his first exhibition 'Street, Life, Emotion' open in Baku. He also won the Photographer of the Year award from the Azerbaijan Photographers’ Union in 2011.

The judging panel comprised the American photojournalist, Ed Kashi, co-founder of the VII Photo Agency and winner of the 2011 World Press Photo competition, whose work has been published in the National Geographic, New York Times and Newsweek, amongst other publications; German photographer Philipp Rathmer, who is renowned for his celebrity portraits of Michael Schumacher, Lady Gaga and Sophia Loren, yet also undertakes reportage; and Azerbaijani photographer Agdes Baghirzade, who specialises in capturing the faces and nature of her homeland, for which she has won numerous awards.

The competition reflects TEAS’ ongoing commitment to photography as an art form, and follows its successful 'Azerbaijan Through the Lens' competition and exhibition two years ago. To date, 'Azerbaijan – Sport in Focus' has been exhibited in London, Nice, Maastricht and Paris, where can be currently be seen at the Maison du sport français (French House of Sport).

For more information on the Baku2015 European Games, go to http://www.baku2015.com.

Istinye Park Shopping Centre,
Istinye Bayiri Cad.
No.73 Sariyer,
Istanbul,
Turkey

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