The Sxm airport officially launched the St. Maarten Aviation Photography Competition (Toppix 2013) on Monday February 18th 2013.
The Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM), is one of the major sponsors of the first aviation photography competition in the Caribbean region, offering a cash prize of US$2,500 to the overall winner. The competition, which is organized by Toppix under the theme, "St. Maarten: Aircraft Spotters’ Paradise" will be held here from March 17 – 23, 2013.
"This is part of our year-long celebration of the 70th anniversary of the airport," said Robert Brown, Special Projects Coordinator of PJIAE, the operating company of SXM Airport.
At a press conference held at the airport on Monday morning, Brown said the competition offered a great opportunity for Public Relations for the island and the airport.
"It is an opportunity to show off our unique scenic and panoramic approach and view coming into SXM," Brown said. "This especially since we have just been named the world’s most stunning landing."
"At the same time," he continued, "we boast an impeccable safety record, which also highlights our commitment to safety. I think this is another indication that SXM is a leader in the region. We are always interested in highlighting our qualities and sharing them with the world."
"We are very excited to be participating in this aviation photography competition, namely the Toppix Sint Maarten Aviation Photography Competition, which we hope will be held on a yearly basis and grow and continue to highlight this attraction," Brown said. He added that this is "definitely part of our vision and part of our brand, which we have recently launched."
The competition is the brainchild of Robbie Cijntje, a renowned photographer. Cijntje, a dedicated aircraft spotter on the island, gave an elaborate explanation of the aims and objectives of the contest. He disclosed that already, 10 participants drawn from Canada, Belgium, and The Netherlands, and three from St. Maarten have registered for the competition.
"St. Maarten as a tourist destination needs something ‘magical’ to attract the tourist," he said. "That something magical is right here at the airport and Maho surroundings where you can see lots of YouTube pictures… showing an exclusive destination where you can come so close to the aircraft and airport that it became an attraction on itself."
According to Cijntje, aircraft spotting is very closely related to the state of technology. He gave a brief history of the activity’s development over the years, starting with Dutchman J. Lawant in 1948.
Judges for the Toppix 2013 aviation photography competition include veteran photographer Peter Gunn and Chermaine Petit-Booi, both of St. Maarten, and head judge Chris Kilroy, owner and managing director of the world’s largest aircraft spotting website, jetphotos.net.
The rules of the competition require that the photographs reflect the theme and be taken on the island between March 18 – 22, 2013. They should portray an aviation-related activity in a portrait or landscape format, with an aircraft visible in the picture, which must have a St. Maarten backdrop. A maximum of three photographs per participant can be entered, each with a minimum of 1200 pixels on the longest side and 600 pixels on the shortest side.
Entries must be e-mailed to: email@example.com on or before March 22, 2013. The photos must contain the correct exif date and time. The competition is open to both amateur and professional photographers 16 years old and above.
Cijntje stressed that "if any picture is taken where only one person is recognizable on it, the photographer should obtain a release from that person" to avoid possible legal complications later. Photographs showing a group of persons do not require such a release.
The best six photographs will be on display at the airport for four months. The winners will be announced at a prize-giving ceremony on March 23, 2013, and the overall winner or his/her legal representative must be present at this ceremony to claim the prize.
"We expect it to be a recurring event, so we will be having it every year," Cijntje disclosed, while expressing the hope that it would continue to grow with the years. He said with the help of the sponsors, Toppix 2014 will be held from November 6 – 10, a period close to St. Martin Day and also to the start of the tourist season.
The full amount of the registration fee of US$20 per participant will be donated to the foundation charged with bringing awareness to breast cancer, Cijntje said.
Speaking also at the press conference, Lisa Noel of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, co-sponsor of the event, said her office was very proud to be part of the competition. "We hope the competition will not only showcase the happenings at the airport but also showcase the destination as a whole."