When Manny Fajutag leaned out of a jeep to capture a sunset last May, he had no idea he’d be snapping an award-winning photograph.
But almost a year later, the Abu Dhabi-based Filipino photographer has now won world recognition.
His photo entitled ‘Rush Hour’ picked up top honours in the Open ‘Travel’ category of the Sony World Photography Awards, making it one of ten winning images chosen from over 54,000 entries.
“I was sitting in a passenger jeep going back home from vacation on Sibuyan Island just before sunset and grabbed my camera – a Sony NX5 – to capture the beautiful moment,” Fajutag told Yahoo! Maktoob.
The result is a breathtaking image capturing the fading sunlight in the backdrop of a dusty road, with the coastline gently blending into a far-off mountain range.
This was the first time the 39-year-old helicopter mechanic participated in such a competition and he couldn’t contain his excitement.
“When I got the call, I couldn’t believe it. I am surprised because I’m just an amateur photographer,” he gushed, adding: “My friend encouraged me to enter. This was my first time and I won!”
Fajutag, a self-taught photo enthusiast, picked up photography as a hobby when he moved to the UAE in 2009.
“Photography is my passion and I started three years ago. I just had an old point and shoot camera with a fixed lense,” he said.
Since then, Fajutag upgraded to a changeable lens camera and has been snapping away whenever he has time, capturing landscapes and live shots or experimenting in still-life photography.
“I’m always thinking about what I’m going to do about my passion. Even in the summer when it’s too hot outside, I take creative shots at home,” he said.
The father-of-three picked up tips and tricks from photography books and by attending a few seminars, but most of his skills were developed by persistence.
“Whenever I go out in Abu Dhabi, I take live shots or landscapes,” he said.
Fajutag will be honoured in an award ceremony in London on April 25, where he will compete with the nine other winners for an overall prize of $5,000.
“This will be my first time in London and I’m really excited to go there, but still waiting for a visa,” he said.
His photo also picked up the top award in his native Philippines, where he will attend another awards ceremony, making the win twice as sweet.
The stunning photos will be on display at Somerset House, London, from April 26 to May 12.