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UAE-based Filipino photographer wins in prestigious Hamdan bin Mohammed Int’l photo contest

"Innocent Smile" by Russell Cabanting

A Filipino IT professional based in Abu Dhabi won in the latest edition of the prestigious Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award (HIPA).

Russell Cabanting was chosen as one of the 10 winners in the “Smiles” edition of the Instagram photo contest. The winners were announced in March 2023.

The Philippines joined the roster of winners from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, India, Ukraine, and Iran.

Cabanting’s winning photo entitled “Innocent Smile” features a young girl beside a metal gate near a train station in India.

In an exclusive interview of Cabanting with The Filipino Times, he shared that the photo was taken on October 20, 2019 at Railway Colony Road, New Shahupuri, Kolhapur, Maharashtra, India.

The 40-year-old photographer said it was during the last day of their three-day trip in India with friends that they decided to go out early and visit the nearest train station before travelling back to the airport.

“I saw this child playing with her younger sister on the train and waited for the right moment before pressing my camera shutter button,” Cabanting said.


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Cabanting’s innate talent in photography came from a lineage of photographers, making his ability to capture awe-inspiring moments a breathtaking work of art.

“My mother [is one of my inspirations in pursuing photography]. Being raised in a family of photographers has benefited me in more ways than merely sparking my passion for photography at a young age,” he said.

Russell Cabanting
Russell Cabanting

“Creating a photograph that evokes a feeling, emotion, or a response from a viewer is what drives and inspires me. The world is full of stories to tell. Inspiration is all around us,” Cabanting added.

His advice for aspiring photographers? “Keep shooting, and enjoy the process.”

Lianne Micah Asidera

Lianne is a reporter at The Filipino Times. She was a news correspondent for the Provincial Government of Bataan in the Philippines. Lianne takes pleasure in winning over readers' hearts by featuring impactful stories that matter to both the Filipino and global readers of The Filipino Times. Want to share your story? Reach Lianne on Facebook: or send your story at: [email protected]

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