SRINAGAR: A picture of boys playing cricket in Kashmir autumn, which broke the internet after it was picked and published by international newspapers, has secured first place at Marylebone Cricket Club Wisden (MCC) Photo of the year.
Saqib Majeed, an engineer by profession, took the magical frame of boys playing cricket under Chinar trees in famous Nishat Garden which went viral on internet.
Saqib is the first from Kashmir and second in Asia to win this prestigious award.
Saqib works as a freelance photojournalist and also runs his own engineering consultancy in Srinagar.
“I took this picture in Autum 2016 which went viral on internet and I am proud and surprised to win the award,” Saqib said.
Saqib had a dream to become a cricketer but didn’t pursue further as “there was no scope”, but he always wanted to contribute for the cricket in Kashmir.
“It’s a proud moment for me, my parents, and all my well-wishers. I always had a dream to become a cricketer but I couldn’t play because there is no scope for a sports person in Kashmir though I always wanted to do something for Cricket-for Kashmir and today I feel proud that I succeeded in what I wanted,” says Saqib.
This photo by Saqib has already travelled the world. Even after five months the picture is again making circles on internet, he has been getting enormous responses and wishes from people all over.
“I was sure I will be in top 12 and I am really happy and thankful to the people who are and were in my life. I have been receiving calls, emails, messages from people of Kashmir saying that I have made them proud and that made me more proud than winning an award,” Saqib said.
Apart from the prize money the photo is published in Wisden Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, which is considered as Bible of cricket. The picture of Kashmiri boys will also be displayed in Lords Cricket stadium for whole year.
The Story behind ‘cricket-autumn’ Photo that went Viral
It was a mesmerizing scene of cricket in autumn which I captured in all its glory
Srinagar, December 1 2016: I’m an Engineer by profession and started working at the very young age of 22. Since childhood I was very passionate and enthusiastic about photography. I used to click photographs with digital cameras and mobile phones. With the passage of time I started capturing images using professional cameras and side by side improved my skills to excel in this field.
I have been active in photography field for the last seven years. Landscape photography has remained my prime attraction. I used to send my work to many photo agencies outside. My initial works were appreciated and got published in many portals and magazines since 2011. In 2012, one of my photographs was published in a New York based magazine and it was recognised and appreciated.
In 2013, my photographs were displayed in California based Art Gallery “Olive De Luce”. In 2014, I founded “Art – Surpassing its Boundary” which is a platform where young and budding artists and photographers exhibit and display their works. I also invite renowned artists and some luminaries who by their participation encourage them to improve their skills.
Meanwhile my works were internationally acclaimed and also published in publications like The Citizen, and Frontiere News. Recently, one of my photographs became popular on Nat Geo. My 12 photographs were published by Gandhi Memorial College in its calendar for the year 2016. Presently I am working as a photojournalist at The Counsellor Magazine, and also as a Freelance Photojournalist for Frontiere News, which is an Italy based Magazine.
It has been my cherished desire to produce work that shows nature in all its glory. I always wanted to show the beauty of Kashmir to the outside world through my photographs. And this dream seems to be coming true with my latest photograph which went viral on social media and also got worldwide acclaim. I clicked this photo in autumn, one evening in November this year when I came across a group of boys playing cricket under Chinar trees somewhere in Srinagar outskirts. I immediately captured this mesmerizing autumn scene. These boys were engrossed in playing cricket.
As usual I mailed this photograph to an international agency, Barcroft, where from it was also published in the online edition of The Guardian newspaper. Soon it began to grab the attention of the people around the world.
Many famous personalities appreciated this ‘cricket-autumn’ photo including British journalist and television personality, Piers Morgan. “Cricket in Kashmir….. quite possibly the most wondrously beautiful photograph ever taken of my favourite sport. Congrats @Saqib_Majeed,” tweeted Morgan.
Hugh Wilson, a famous wildlife filmmaker too had his share of praise for my work: “Amazing photo in Guardian today @Saqib_Majeed – is there anyway I can buy a print?”
Former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah too praised my work: “Will we ever see a more magical photograph of cricket being played?” James Dart, The Guardian’s Sports Editor, also tweeted: “Stunning picture by @Saqib_Majeed: cricket in Kashmir”. Fatima Syed, Blog Editor at Ryerson Review tweeted: “Whatever happens in the world, there will always be this glorious picture of cricket in Kashmir. Brilliance by @Saqib_Majeed.”
MirzaWaheed, the famous Kashmiri novelist, tweeted: “Oh, the glorious autumns of my childhood. [Cricket in Srinagar. SaqibMajeed for @guardian ‘s Eyewitness].”
After the photo went viral on Twitter, I got over 5000 notifications on my Twitter account. These notifications are increasing with every passing day. Still many more people are sending daily requests online, asking how to buy the copy of this photograph. I’m grateful for all the praise for this photo. Thank you!