21 Jul, 2022

Kurt Mutchler and Majed Sultan Al Zaabi Among HIPA’s Special Awards Recipients

Turjoy Chowdhury from Bangladesh grabs the Emerging Person in Photography Award


The Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award (HIPA) has announced the Special Award recipients for its eleventh season of competition ‘Nature’. This season again features three Special Awards including the ‘Photography Content Creator Award’, the ‘Emerging Person in Photography Award’ and the ‘Photography Appreciation Award’. The Special Awards are presented by HIPA to photographers and institutions that have contributed positively to photography as an art-form and industry.

The ‘Photography Appreciation Award’ was awarded to American photographer Kurt Mutchler, recognizing his career as an editor of print and electronic photographs, and his contribution as a photo editor to the photographic stories and novels that were published in the organizations in which he worked. He provided a remarkable example of the pivotal role that workers behind the scenes add to the image industry; a role that rarely gets the spotlight.

The ‘Photography Content Creator Award’ was awarded to Kuwaiti photographer Majed Sultan Al Zaabi considered as an educational and cognitive activist on social networks. He shares his knowledge, experience and expertise with regards to photography and how to produce dynamic and impactful content for key digital platforms. He draws on his 20 years of experience in the field of wildlife photography and documenting charitable projects in Africa.

The ‘Emerging Person in Photography Award’ was awarded to Bangladeshi photographer Turjoy Chowdhury. He is a researcher, visual storyteller and owner of long-term art projects, specializing in the history of wars and conflicts, geopolitics, human rights and social issues.

In response to being awarded, American photographer Kurt Mutchler said, “I extend my heartfelt thanks to His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of the Executive Council and patron of HIPA, for honoring my career, which made me very happy in ways I did not expect! I would like to thank everyone who nominated me for the award, and I would like to highlight the great value that HIPA provides to the photographers and photographic arts communities worldwide. Photography has always been a wonderful field for me to learn, understand and create awareness; photography has been a life-sized passion. I have learned from my experience that a photographer who can combine photojournalism skills with studio photography and lighting skills can deliver any visual story. I advise photographers to have more deliberation and patience, and to use that in reading, listening, acquiring knowledge and skills, and training to put themselves in the right place and time”.

The Kuwaiti photographer Majed Sultan Al Zaabi, expressed his thanks and pride for HIPA and the extent of its impact and support for the photography community. HIPA holds a very special place amongst the photography community, pointing out that it is "much more than a traditional competition", considering that it is an "institution that buzzes with activity and life throughout the year." Al-Zaabi added that he enjoys presenting information and simplifying it to the public, as he concluded his statement with his 4 insights to creating attractive content: the first is that the goal is to communicate the information well and not the number of views, second is to focus on the areas that you love, third is about consistency, scheduling of posts, and content creation, and fourth and most importantly, it is that the material you present must contain educational, motivating and entertaining content to achieve the desired attention.

Bangladeshi photographer Turjoy Chowdhury, said, “HIPA's promotion of photography and support for photographers from all over the world exceeds all expectations, and I feel proud and happy for winning one of its Special Awards. I extend my thanks and appreciation to the Award's Board of Trustees and its wonderful team.”

He added, “From my experience, I see photography as a way to travel through time and collect important cultural tools from the past, present and future, and to understand them deeply, understanding them enough to make a significant and sustainable positive impact on the humanity.”

The Secretary General of HIPA, His Excellency Ali bin Thalith said, " We are pleased to announce the winners of the Special Awards for this season, who have been so influential and contemporary in the way they have contributed to the photographic industry and the global topics and issues we face in our world today. By honoring these distinguished personalities, we want to highlight and celebrate their dedication to the global photography industry and their support of photographers far and wide.”


Bin Thalith added, “Honoring the creators in these three categories is at the heart of HIPA’s vision, which is inspired by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and patron of HIPA, who believes in supporting the arts, encouraging cultural and cognitive creativity, and nurturing talent and passion. We are also delighted to have an Arab influencer on the list recipients reflecting the momentum of ‘Bashaer Al Khair’ (good tidings) and the positive direction of Arab photography. We aspire to continue investing in and growing the talent in the region establishing its presence on the global photography stage.”



Kurt Mutchler | United States of America

Kurt Mutchler is an editor-at-large at National Geographic magazineHe was awarded the 2021 Magazine Picture Editor of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA). He was awarded Magazine/Media Visual Editor of the Year in Pictures of the Year International (POYi), as well as Magazine Picture Editor of the Year by the NPPA for work in 2018.

His work has also been recognized by the Overseas Press Club of America, The Association of Magazine Media, Society for News Design, and The Society for Publication Designers.

Kurt has worked at National Geographic magazine since 1994 where he has held many positions, including photo editor, deputy director of photography, executive editor of photography, and senior science photo editor. He is a former adjunct professor at the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, DC, where he taught photojournalism. Prior to joining the magazine, he was the photo and graphics editor of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Kurt deserved the Appreciation Award for what he provided during his career as a print and media photo editor, and for what he added to his work as a photo editor for the photographic stories that were published in the organizations in which he worked. He provided an eminent example of the pivotal role that behind-the-scenes workers add to the photography industry, a role that rarely gets the spotlight.


Majed Sultan Al Zaabi | Kuwait

Majed Sultan Al Zaabi is a computer engineer with an extreme passion for photography.  He is active on the social networks, providing photography-related content and how to produce content across them. For more than 20 years now, he has devoted his talent at excelling in the field of wildlife photography and documenting charitable projects in Africa.


Majed is especially passionate about sharing knowledge and providing in-depth details by recording videos on YouTube. He started his channel in 2007 to explain the basics of photography, use of various equipment and photo editing; carrying it through to today’s fast-paced world of social media.

Majed has won many international awards and achievements.  In 2021, he won in the ‘Animal Portraits’ category of the Natural History Museum’s ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ competition in London.  The competition which is held yearly is considered to be one of the largest wildlife photography competitions in the world.

Many of his works have been published in the National Geographic magazine, as well as participating in special photography programs on National Geographic Abu Dhabi.  Majed is a brand representative of Nikon Middle East and North Africa.  He has organized more than 30 tours for photographers from the Gulf to go to photograph wildlife in Africa – and many of them have achieved global achievements from his tutelage.

Majed has hosted many photography courses both in person and online, from the basics to advanced photography workshops, including photo editing, wildlife photography courses and lectures documenting charitable projects in Africa. His last course was about the secrets of Instagram, which is how to create professional content for social networks. Making content daily has become part of his life. His goal is to create a great impact on those around him and spreading positivity and happiness through these networks.

This deserved honor places Majed in the circle of a shining model that inspires hundreds of influencers on social media, to invest their talent and creativity in spreading knowledge and making people happy with the quality of the content they provide and simplify it in genius ways that make it easy to handle and acquire. Majed is on his way to world fame with confident steps.



Turjoy Chowdhury is a visual storyteller and researcher working in the Indian subcontinent, across Asia, as well as in the USA. A photographer of National Geographic Magazine and a member of The Photo Society of NatGeo, Turjoy primarily works on long-term projects focused on the history of war and conflicts, geopolitics, human rights and social issues. After graduating in Architecture, he became a full-time humanitarian photographer.

Turjoy constantly keeps experimenting with visual approaches and storytelling formats. He likes to deal with complex stories and produces work to raise thought-provoking questions.  Often his work explores dark places and dark stories to shade light in the darkness.

He has worked on the aftermath of the Syrian civil war that deals with the psychological aspect of the refugees. His project ‘Beyond the Mushroom Cloud’, the story of the atomic bomb explosions in Japan, stands against the use of nuclear weapons to promote world peace. In the USA, Turjoy explored the personal stories and emotions of the immigrants, where he used photography as a medium for freedom of expression and inclusion. He has witnessed the Rohingya refugee crisis and intensively worked in the Rohingya camps. There, he produced the body of work ‘Born Refugee’ that deals with complex identity politics and citizenship issues with a very subtle approach. His photographs for the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) during the refugee crisis also helped raise over 20 million pounds of funds for the survivors.

His work has been exhibited globally and appeared in the National Geographic Magazine, Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, Time Magazine, The Sunday Times, The Wall Street Journal and many more.

Turjoy was nominated for the ‘Tim Hetherington Trust: Visionary Award 2020’ for his ongoing multidisciplinary creative research project, ‘Genocide'71 - A Memory Map’. He also received the UNICEF Photo of the Year Award, National Press Photo Award (NPPA), Picture of the Year International (POYI) Award, LensCulture Emerging Talent Award and Photo Philanthropy Activist Award.

Today, in his thirtieth year, he received the Emerging Person Award, we hope that he will be one of the icons of photography based on visual storytelling in the twenty-first century. And for this he was honored, and we look forward to the photographers who have taken photography as a profession and passion find an example, and for the dreamers to work by honoring someone similar to him, and to make effort, time, age and money, success is not an accident.

 #HIPAEleventhSeason | The Photography Appreciation Award Winner - Kurt Mutchler


#HIPAEleventhSeason | The Photography Content Creator Award Winner - Majed Sultan Al Zaabi


#HIPAEleventhSeason | Emerging Person / Organisation in Photography Award Winner - Turjoy Chowdhury