Update – Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue International Photography Competition & Exhibition

During the recent CHOGM events, the OUT OF THE BLUE PHOTOGRAPHY exhibition was inaugurated at the MarItime Museum in Vittoriosa by HRH Prince Charles. The opening brought to fruition the work of many months which included the preparation of rules, launching and promotion, the judging, preparation of exhibition boards and the collating of a publication. All this was a great opportunity to showcase the value and importance of our blue planet and raise awareness around all Commonwealth countries on the value of our seas. A vast area of our global ocean lies within the jurisdiction of Commonwealth countries. More than half of Commonwealth countries are islands, to whom ocean matters are of vital importance.

 HRH Prince Charles delivering his opening speech

HRH Prince Charles delivering his opening speech

Through the work of Kevin Casha, MIPP President, Malta had a substantial entry and local photographers left an excellent impression with the international judges. Two MIPP members had their works amongst the finalists: Joe P. Smith and Nick D’Ancona’s images are also exhibited in the Maritime exhibition. Furthermore, other work, mainly coming from the photographic section of Atlam Subacqua Club, in Malta, was close to making it to the final selection. The competition’s overall winner was Ms Ashley Wee, from Canada with a photograph of a sea turtle taken in the Bahamas. Ms Wee attended the exhibition’s inauguration.

MIPP President Kevin Casha together with the overall winner, Ms Ashley Wee

MIPP President Kevin Casha together with the overall winner, Ms Ashley Wee

The Out of the Blue competition, exhibition and book were made possible by the partnering organisations which were The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit, The Royal Commonwealth Society, National Geographic Pristine Seas, the CHOGM Taskforce and the Malta Institute of Professional Photography. Kevin Casha himself was instrumental for the success of this event as he was not only one of the Judges but also Picture Editor and Exhibition Coordinator. The exhibition is open to the general public from the 28th November to the 11th of December 2015.

Protecting our seas …

Protecting our seas…

Recently, I was honoured by being invited to be part of the selection panel for the OUT OF THE BLUE Prince of Wales’ Commonwealth Environmental Photography Awards. The competition, held under the auspices of HRH the Prince of Wales, aimed at encouraging Commonwealth Citizens to showcase the beauty and bounty of oceans and marine environments.

The judges’ task was to select the winners of each competition category as well as the images which have been eventually exhibited in Malta during the November Commonwealth CHOGM event. The judging panel consisted of a further three judges coming mainly from environmental backgrounds. All the judges’ CV’s are highly impressive and, apart from their vast experience, are all photographers in their own right. Besides myself, the group consisted of Terence Dormer, a diver and founder of the British Sub Aqua club; Hanli Prinsloo – multiple South African free diving record holder and founder of the I AM WATER Ocean Conservation project; and Daniel Beltra – a Spanish born photographer working from Seattle who specialises in aerial environmental photography.

The publication which accompanies the exhibition in Malta.

The publication which accompanies the exhibition in Malta.

The judging, held at the prestigious St James Palace in London, was not an easy task, with nearly 900 entries coming from all ends of the Commonwealth. The works were under different themes and categories with one category for under 18 participants as well as a Mobile Phone category. This was also another opportunity for me to learn more about selection processes and the organization of judging panels. Naturally the work, coming from so many different areas of the commonwealth as well as the cultural diversity of the participants, made for different levels and standards of entries – there were the obviously top notch images coming from professional photographers and then entries from hobbyists and youths. It made for a very intriguing mix of images. I could not help notice that some of the work was of the documentary side – just recording a scene or a holiday snapshot – yet other images had an important message as well as an obvious thematic involvement by the photographer. It was also curious that the weakest section was the mobile category. With the use and proliferation of mobile phones, I would have expected much stronger images in this section.

From a personal point, it was also a pleasure that recent efforts of myself and the MIPP to work with Atlam sub aqua club photographers are paying off. I successfully encouraged them to put in their impressive work for this competition. In fact, the Malta entry was noticeable and a good number of works left a good impression on the experienced judging panel.

© Kevin Casha

The Gentle Sex and Photogaphy

This time round, I wanted to share with you some personal thoughts. Last year, both top Malta Institute of Professional Photography’s competitions, namely the Photographer of the Year and the International Online Competition, were won by the gentler sex. Furthermore, four of the Institute’s members gaining Qualifications, (from a total of six panels), were also women! Was this a coincidence? I do not really think so and in fact I have long been feeling the growth and opportunity that women photographers have gained partly through Digital photography.

Fifteen years back, I distinctly remember the extremely low number of females who would apply to learn photography during my courses – they would invariably be outnumbered ten to one by the males! Yet, now the boot seems to have shifted to the other foot. Take the clear example of my MCAST Higher National Diploma Photography first year Class which consists of seven girls and one boy! Even the MIPP membership seems to be steadily increasing its female membership. So what are the reasons of this evident increase in women photography practitioners in what was, previously, rather a male dominated profession?

I feel that the main factor behind this is the facility that digital technology has undoubtedly given us. The barriers have surely been lowered. Through my previous experience, most females have seemingly shied away from technical aspects so, for most of them, it was rather daunting to get to grips with complicated equipment, f-stops and tricky photographic techniques. It is not because they are not capable of surmounting these obstacles but I feel that their temperament prefers concentrating on other things. Have you ever really met a girl who is a ‘techie’ or fixated with photographic equipment and technology? One in a million, whilst on the other hand, many males are actually into photography because they are gadget freaks and love technique.

Although I do not think that this is scientifically proven, this does seem to be a distinct trend between the two sexes. Thus, and again this is only my view coming from years of practical experience, when digital (and the camera monitor) nudged out conventional photography, females now do not really need any more to concentrate so much on technique but have plunged fully into the art of photography and creativity. Again, one can now feel another distinct trend – female photographers seem to be steaming ahead into the forefront when it comes to conceptual photography and many times, seem to be leaving males lagging behind.
I do feel that both sexes can learn from each other. How fantastic would it be that photographers who are obsessed with technique would start adding context and message in their photographs and how ideal would it be if those employing context and message could supplement their work with the right technique and quality? I feel that this is another benefit, albeit not very recognized, that Digital photography has granted us. It has got everyone in ‘on the act’ and this undoubtedly gives photographic art a much wider breadth and dimension.

So males beware – we all need to further improve our game if we are to provide an adequate challenge to the fairer sex!

© Kevin Casha


Way back in 1992, when I originally started doing my courses in photography, I never realised how these same courses would evolve into what today I consider as my main job and passion. Although some courses and tuition were already being done by the only, at that time, organized photography group on the island, it was really unheard of for a person to teach photography in Malta as a freelancer!

How dare someone teach the profession and enable others to become better photographers! How dare someone deprive already working photographers of their livelihood by helping the ‘competition?’ What audacity for someone to facilitate the path of other ‘wannabe’ photographers towards building a business or a career in photography?? As if anyone who is in any profession has any God given right to stop anyone else from taking the same route that he or she, as a beginner, had first undertaken! Do you know of anyone who was born a photographer right away in his cot! Had all these short sighted detractors forgotten their humble beginnings?



Yes, all these accusations were leveled at me when I took the plunge and started teaching. Today, most of my critics are belatedly trying to do what I did years ago: yes – teach. I have always advocated that learning is important and I have eternally been in favour of a free market. Anyone who is capable and passionate enough has all my full support. Yet, currently, I cannot but cringe at the way that matters are shaping up. It really seems that everyone now is trying to teach photography and, although there are various persons capable of doing this in the right manner, there are a host of others who are just jumping in without any skills or background. Recent years have thrown up a spate of complaints from persons who are in some way being ‘duped’ into paying for photography tuition and then finding out that they are really learning very little or, worse still, getting the wrong information or guidance. There are even cases where courses where just terminated midway through their schedule without the students being refunded! Yes, unfortunately it is becoming a jungle and there is little one can do but attempt to educate the students BEFORE they go out and book courses blindly.



The answer boils down to common sense and, first and foremost, one needs to realize that a skilled photographer does not always make a good tutor. A good tutor needs to be organized, needs to know how to deliver and share his knowledge, and needs to keep abreast and on top of his game. Taking good pictures and being a professional in one’s work is necessary but a good teacher needs many other skills. With social groups and online marketing, it has become quite easy for anyone to create a course and diffuse it around the internet and attract students. Again, there is nothing wrong with that, it is a free country, but be aware, particularly of those who have no visible track record of teaching. A student can really pass through a nightmare experience. If you needed a doctor, would you go to anyone who advertises on social media? Would you blindly ask for a service from any company which pays for an advert in yellow pages or would you ask for referrals and recommendations? Do an exercise and look up photographers on Malta’s yellow pages – some of the claims that some advertisers publicize make you laugh (or cry, for that matter!) This is not just in photography, but in all other professions or service industries – it’s a sign of our times.
So how does one go about selecting the right course or the right tutor? In Malta it is rather easy. Just ask for recommendations, ask someone who has already been to the tutor that you are considering. There is no better advert than recommendation and word of mouth, particularly on a small island like ours, where everyone knows everyone else. Go for courses which are well structured and clearly map out what you are going to be taught and how it is going to be done. Look for professionalism in every detail.

So the next time that you are seriously thinking of going into learning photography, do yourself a favour, and research your tutor well. It will avoid you unsavoury experiences and a waste of time and money.

© Kevin Casha

Frammenti di Donna – a photographic exhibition

“Frammenti di Donna”

During the past years, the Malta Institute of Professional Photography (MIPP) has been actively following a policy of networking and cooperation with various Photographic entities around Europe and the Mediterranean. The main aim has been to empower local photographers and enable them to enhance their vision of the work of other countries and photographers in order to further push the boundaries of their photography.

Due to this policy, the MIPP has managed to bring over to Malta a series of interesting photography exhibitions which help to inspire local artists. “Frammenti di Donna,” showing at Palazzo Xara in St Paul’s Street, Rabat, is the latest of these exhibitions. It will be open to the general public from the 1st to the 26th October, 2012.

The work exhibited hails from the Sicilian Fotoclub Le Gru, who have already been cooperating on various visits and projects with the MIPP. In fact, a delegation from the Group will be in Malta for an exchange visit and for the actual inauguration of the exhibition.

As the name implies, the exhibition concerns the female sex. Women have always been an attractive and inspiring subject for all artists, and photographers are no exception.  The debate on the exploitation of women in art, advertising and commercials will surely rage on interminably and revolves and fluctuates according to the different perceptions, customs and religion of various nations, but one sure thing is that artists will never cease to be intrigued by the mystery as well as the controversy and attraction that surrounds the female gender.

© Rosario di Maria

© Rosario di Maria, Frammenti Di Donna Exhibition

This exhibition attempts to capture instants in which a glimpse of this mystery and attraction is evidenced. Most of the images in this exhibition try to show us curious moments and insights of women’s presence in the world around us. Although the sexuality, eroticism and beauty of the female body are not neglected, other less obvious, perhaps less evident, facets of everyday life are also explored. This gives this collection an interesting and curious cross section of the theme and encourages discussion and debate.

© Silvano Bicocchi

© Silvano Bicocchi, Frammenti Di Donna Exhibition

The image by Silvano Bicocchi, subtly shows the hands of a hard working woman. Hands which carry a message of toil and sacrifice that a woman sometimes goes through in her married life. A picture by Rosario di Maria contrasts sharply with this. Di Maria captures the sexual beauty of a young woman in an artistic, romantic manner – introducing slight movement in order to breathe more life into the image. Two different sides of the same coin.

© Donna Manta

© Donna Manta, Frammenti di Donna Exhibition

Again a very different angle is depicted by Donna Manta. Her image of an adolescent coloured girl, peacefully at rest in what seems to be a hospital bed, conjures the plight of women risking their lives to try and escape the harshness and perils of countries were women are treated as little more than slaves. The restful and, seemingly, exhausted but peaceful deep sleep of the girl hopefully augurs a brighter future in a new, better beginning.

© Gabriele Rigon

© Gabriele Rigon, Frammenti di Donna Exhibition

Gabriele Rigon’s nude combines the sensuality of the human figure with the everyday habitual motions of smoking – perhaps after a night of passionate love? The shallow depth of field enhances well the softness and curves of the model.

Paola Garofalo’s image of a girl at her toilette plays on the effect of multiplicity and reflection – rather reminiscent of the work of Chiara Fersini, recently shown in Malta again during another MIPP international exhibition. Available light and colour is put to good use here.

© Paola Garofalo

© Paola Garofalo, Frammenti Di Donna Exhibition

Santo Mongioi’s cubism inspired photograph gives a different, yet somewhat semi abstract view of the theme. It is quite arty in its rendition and I believe that work such as this should be commended and more exploited and explored by photographers.

Daniela Sidari’s images hint on the female form through the clever use of shop manikins as her chosen subject matter. Using positive and  negative versions of her images and combining them in a diptych, she has managed to create an aura of clinical, inquisitive coldness, again encouraging the viewer to examine form and light on the contours of the “female’s” body.

© Danela Sidari

© Danela Sidari – Frammenti Di Donna Exhibition

These are just a few of the images I have singled out that have particularly intrigued and fascinated me. I am sure that visitors will have their own favourites and areas of debate, opinion and discussion.

I urge photographers and artists alike, as well as the general public, to view the interesting works of the Le Gru members at Palazzo Xara and try to delve deeper into the fascinating world of women.

Viewing Times (free entry) are:

Mon – Sun  from 09:00 – 24:00

1st October to 26th October, 2012


Kevin Casha

© 2012