For three years now, Phoenicia Hotel has been organizing an annual photography competition to showcase art and culture in Lebanon. The yearlong competition hosts 12 contestants, each competing for the top prize and a chance to win $5,000.
The way the competition works is simple: Every month, one contestant is invited to stay at the hotel for a night, during which he or she would take their snap.
On Tuesday, March 19th, the 1st-place was awarded to Marcia Gunning for her outstanding submission titled Golden Eye. The photo was taken during her stay in the hotel in May 2018.
Seemingly inspired by the ’60s when many spy movies were shot in Lebanon, the photo shows a man dressed in formal sailor attire and framed by a stone ring.
Phoenicia Hotel had been a location for many espionage films like Bond's The Man With The Golden Gun, which may be where Gunning drew her inspiration.
The jury of this year was formed of filmmaker and photographer Charbel Bouez, photographer Raymond Khalife, artist and writer Jeroen Kramer, photojournalist Emily Garthwaite, photographer Roger Moukarzel, and seven other experts in the field.
Speaking about her winning photo, Garthwaite said that it was the ability of the photographer to tell a story beyond the hotel’s architecture that won the judges over.
The winning prize is set to $5,000 plus an additional amount in dollars that corresponds to the number of the room in which the winner stayed. In the case of Gunning, that additional amount was $727, making her total prize close to $6,000 for a single winning photo.
This year, PHAP also had two additional awards for the second and third places.
Tarek Haddad took home the second prize for his “Reflecting Time” - a photo showing the hotel from multiple perspectives in triangular mirrors and edited together.
The third-place prize consisted of $500 worth of training courses at the Fine Art Photography Academy, given to Roudy Doumit for his “Tetromino P.”
The photo shows part of the hotel’s exterior, with rooms lit up in different neon colors, made to look like a game of Tetris.
You may catch a close look at winning photos, plus all the other submissions, at the lobby of the hotel. The exhibition is ongoing until April 19th.