THE National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) recently recognized 22-year-old visual artist Mariah Karla Zamora with its prestigious “Ani ng Dangal.”
Zamora, who is currently pursuing a Multimedia Arts degree at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde School of New Media Arts, earned the reputable distinction after emerging as “National Award Winner for the Philippines” at the 2022 Sony World Photography Awards in London. It is the leading competition for established and emerging photographers around the world.
Her winning piece “Anom Asil” was a school requirement on “Rembrandt Lighting”—a popular technique that utilizes one light and one reflector or two separate lights to capture a dramatic yet natural image.
Inspired by the Renaissance masterpiece Mona Lisa, the portrait pictures Zamora’s older brother Juan Carlo in a painting-like photograph.
“Mona Lisa was depicted to be the perfect and most beautiful woman, and I wanted to create a reversed version, hence the [title of the photo],” she stated.
“Photography is a trial-and-error process, especially working with lighting, and that’s one of my struggles,” she detailed. “My brother was irritated because I was taking so long that his face finally captured what I was going for. When I won, we always joked about how hasty he was when I took it.”
Zamora, who is the daughter of award-winning Filipino photographer Carlo Zamora, has been immersed into the visual arts scene since she was eight.
“However, as time passed, school [became] my priority, and I couldn’t get back to it since,” she shared. “That’s why I was so excited about the Photography class at Benilde. I certainly had the opportunity to rekindle one of my favorite hobbies.”
The budding artist also profusely thanked Viktor Peñas, her Photography professor in Benilde: “Thank you for teaching me well during our class.”
The deliverable particularly caught the attention of the elder Zamora, who encouraged his child to submit it to the competition in United Kingdom: “My dad is my inspiration. He pushes me to trust myself.”
Currently Zamora works as a graphic designer and social-media manager for a local skin-care company. She hopes to graduate this year, and is planning to explore street photography.
“It’s one of the most difficult [yet] fun styles out there,” she elaborated. “I hope in the future I’ll be able to make a name for myself.”
The highlight and concluding rite of the National Arts Month last February, the NCCA’s “Ani ng Dangal” or “Harvest of Honors” pays tribute to Filipino artists whose talents have earned international accolades from established award-giving bodies and brought pride to the country. Categories include Architecture, Cinema, Dance, Drama, Literature, Music, Arts, and Broadcast Arts.
Zamora, together with over 30 Filipino artists, were recognized during the 15th “Ani ng Dangal” Awards conducted at the Ceremonial Hall of Malacañan Palace. Each received the remarkable stylized sarimanok trophy sculpted by National Artist for Visual Arts Abdulmari Imao.