The Maybank Photography Awards 2012


For readers living in Malaysia, I want to bring to your attention the 2012 Maybank Photography Awards – entries run from 3 September to 31 October, and there are five categories to enter around the theme of Being Human: Photographer of the year (portfolio), Street, Studio, Landscape and Press. Each category has an award, plus a bonus for People’s Choice. The contest is sponsored by Maybank, Leica, Profoto and HP; prizes include a total of RM16,000 cash, a custom Leica X2, a Profoto D1 Studio kit and a HP Designjet Z2100.

You’re probably wondering why I’m posting about this instead of entering it – aside from the rather impressive prizes, there are two other reasons. Firstly, I’m serving as head judge (Thorsten Overgaard is one of the category judges), so it would be more than a little nepotistic. 😛

More importantly, unlike almost every other photography competition where submission of an image constitutes transferral of rights to the image to the contest organizer, image ownership and IP remains with the photographer, with a limited license granted to the competition organizers for use related to the competition only. I wanted to create a contest which people would be comfortable submitting their best images to – this would obviously not be possible for the professional and press categories with anything involving rights transferral.

There are also no restrictions on when the images have to be captured, which means stuff from the archives is okay – we recognize that it isn’t always possible to produce your best work on demand in a short space of time, (even true pros have trouble with that; opportunities don’t always happen when you want them to) so long as the image fits the theme. So start shooting, looking through your back catalog, and sharing the competition with your friends. My personal advice with all competitions is not to enter until you’re sure you’ve got something you can’t improve on; don’t settle. If in doubt, enter at the end near the closing date, because you never know what you might shoot between now and then.

Finally, stay tuned for the results of the August Compact Challenge to be announced tomorrow! MT

*You may recognize some of the placeholder images. They’ll all change once we’ve received entries worthy of shortlisting.


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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | 2012 onwards. All rights reserved


  1. Ceasar Nair says:

    Hi and thanks for all you’ve been generous enough to share and inspire with your blog! Just like to ask when will the final selection end (or has it been completed) and when will winners be announced?
    Also some input for future Maybank competitions, would have been great if there was some space to explain the photo submissions, like why it was shot in a certain way, what was significant about the photo elements, etc – even 100 characters! For e.g. I submitted a series shot in blurred motion of homeless on the streets of NY specifically to mimic how we view them as we pass by, ie not really wanting to be involved. I guess 35 characters was chosen on the premise of a photo should speak for itself but at times a worried look of ragged teenager would take a new meaning if the viewer knew he was an orphan having to feed his 5 younger siblings, and so on – just my two cents 🙂
    Anyway, congrats over being selected as the chief judge over such an illustrious panel!

    • The shortlisting process is going on now; judging will follow, and the winners will be announced at the end of November.

      As for the captions – images frequently get separated from their captions. If the image idea isn’t strong enough to stand on its own, then the chances are the image won’t make the cut anyway. Thanks!

  2. I read in the T & C that the shortlisted participants images are displayed on the website, is that left to the webmaster to decide or you & the judges? If the webmaster chooses what to display wouldn’t it be confusing to the participants–since they have no authority to judge but still have the preogrative to display the images? Kindly clarify. Thank you.

    • The short listed images are screened by two of the judges. The category winners are then selected from this pool, or we go back into the original submission set if there isn’t anything that passes. This is to ensure objectivity and that at least two pairs of eyes see each winning image – actually three, because I have input into every category.

      • Thanks for sharing your screening process. That is how I more or less would have understood it, until I read your earlier response “I am not involved in which images are displayed on the site – only the final judging,” is juxtapose with the T & C statement no. 9. “selected images will be displayed on the “Contest” website. If an image is displayed, it has been shortlisted by the judging panel and is eligible to win a prize in its respective category,” thus this all becomes a bit confusing when Gan BK brought up the image that was offensive to him.

        • Well, offensiveness is relative…I find poorly executed, overprocessed images offensive, but I don’t think I’d be able to stop people from sending them to me 🙂

          Will look into the matter. In any case, administration is being handled by Maybank and their media agent; I just pick out of the pile of images I’m given.

  3. btw I find the photo entitled THE SINNER under the photographer of the year category in bad taste and offensive.

    • I suggest you make a complaint directly to the webmasters, I am not involved in which images are displayed on the site – only the final judging.

      • Thanks for responding.. I certainly hope the webmasters read your blog. Life is a dream and your portfolio, from what I have seen, captures beautiful dreams .That’s what makes a photographer great!

  4. If photos from the archives are eligible for the contest, how can one prove that a photo is taken by the entrant and not someone else; especially if the original photographer is no longer alive? I think it would be appropriate to judge only the photos taken in the year of the competition. An execellent sportsman of yesteryear may not be good this year. The years of the film camera and present digital technology cannot be compared. Photography is art and technology : the former is aptitude plus inspiration and the latter is skill in employing the latest tools. Anyway the gallery is pretty impressive and I am sure the judges will have a fun and tough time deciding.

    • We will be doing our due diligence before an image is considered for a prize. Otherwise, the entrants will be in legal hot soup if the original photographer claims his or her rights.

      A sportsman who produced a record that still stands today is worthy of recognition. Same with an image: if you produced an image that stands the test of time, then it too is worthy of recognition. And you can’t win Photographer of the Year without a current portfolio, not a single image.

  5. If my image has been publish in a magazine, can I still enter it in the contest?

  6. If the image has been publish in magazine, can we still enter it in the contest?

  7. Hi, like someone said, there weren’t that many details concerning the post processing. I assume pure digital manipulation is out of the question. But what about using the stamp or patch tool to erase unwanted elements? This ranges from dust, pimples, an extra lightbulb, etc.

    • For the press category, anything beyond exposure/ contrast etc adjustments are forbidden. For the other categories, it’s acceptable – 99% of professional studio work has to be edited to meet client requirements anyway.

  8. Can I send in my photos in stagger because it is stated max 10 photos per category. It is also stated max 3MB in size, do I have to resize my photos or it will be automatically resized when we upload? Thanks!

  9. hello. i noticed there is no mention about size, quality and also whether the photo should be raw and free from any sorts of editing.. or did i missed them?

  10. I have read terms and conditions. I noticed that the photos are open for public voting? Isn’t this gonna be a little unfair? Since everyone will be calling their friends/relatives to vote for them.

  11. Success with the competition and I fully agree with how you are going about the rules to encourage participation and to allow image rights to be retained. Too much exploitation nowadays unfortunately….

    • Thank you. We had to create something that we ourselves would want to enter – three of the judges are pros, and the rest are in the photography business. Competitions have no credibility without participation.

  12. My blog post about the contest From the perspective of the organizer behind it.

  13. Jorge Ledesma says:

    Ming, the competition is open for togs even in the U.S. if so, I’d love to participate, this would be the 1st time I submit any of my images. I actually missed your compact competition and I’m looking forward to the next one.

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