How Smoke of Charcoal Won the Photo Contest

The winner of the 2012 CGAP Photo Contest is Yavuz Sariyildiz of Turkey. His photo won out over a record number of 2,500 entries from professional and non-professional photographers from over 80 countries around the world.

The photo, “Smoke of Charcoal,” depicts men separating charcoal to scale in order to sell at a local market.

“I started photography in 2004. Immediately, it became a passion,” said Sariyildiz, who was previously assistant general manager responsible for small and medium enterprises at a leading Turkish bank.

The judges also selected 28 other photos from around the world as finalists, which were highlighted for their technical skill, emotional impact or ability to convey the story of financial inclusion.

Of particular note was the third prize winner, “Happiness,” from Wang Xiaohong of China, which the judging panel commended for its emotional energy.

For the first time this year, a popular vote on also determined a People’s Choice winner. The winning photo, “The Book Suffers,” portrays a bookseller in one of Baghdad’s largest markets.

Entries were judged on originality, technical excellence, composition, overall impact, and artistic merit. The panel of judges consisted of Anne Farrar, Photo Editor at The Washington Post, Chris Combs, Photo Editor at National Geographic, Suzanne Lemakis, Director of Fine Art at Citigroup, and Susan Sterner, Director of New Media Photojournalism at the Corcoran School of Art and Design.

The annual CGAP Photo Contest aims to highlight stand-out photography from amateurs and professionals depicting microfinance around the world. This year’s grand prize is a $2,000 gift certificate for photography equipment and accessories.

For a full gallery of the winning photos, you can visit

CGAP (The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor) is the world’s leading resource for the advancement of microfinance.

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Rakesh Raman