Sultan Al Qasimi Opens Second International Photography Festival Xposure 2017

  • Four-day event at Expo Centre Sharjah is themed ‘Captivating Stories’ and features 32 internationally acclaimed photographers
  • Festival includes 35 workshops, 27 exhibitions and 25 seminars and lectures

His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, yesterday (Wednesday) inaugurated the second edition of the International Photography Festival (Xposure) 2017, the region’s biggest photography event of its kind, with the participation of a galaxy of the world’s most celebrated photographers and leading international brands.

Present at the opening ceremony were Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Thani, Head of Statistics and Community Development Department, Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Head of Government Relations Department, Sheikh Faisal bin Saud Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah International Airport Authority, Sheikh Majid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Director of the Department of Suburbs and Villages Affairs, HE Khawla Al Mulla, Chairperson of the Sharjah Consultative Council, HE Rashid Ahmed bin Al Sheikh, Chairman of the Sharjah Amiri Court, HE Abdullah Sultan Al Owais, Chairman of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, HE Khamis bin Salem Al Suwaidi, Chairman of the Department of Suburbs and Villages Affairs, HE Ali Salem Al Madfa, Chairman of Sharjah International Airport Authority, HE Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, Chairperson of Sharjah Environment and Protected Areas Authority, HE Khalid Jassem Al Madfa, Chairman of Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, HE Mohammed Obaid Al Zaabi, Head of Protocol and Hospitality Department, HE Dr Khalid Omar Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City, and a number of officials and directors, as well as HE Tariq Saeed Allay, Director of the Sharjah Government Media Bureau, and a group of photography specialists from around the world.

Themed ‘Captivating Stories’, Xposure 2017 spreads across an area of 9,000 square metres at Expo Centre Sharjah and includes 27 indoor and outdoor exhibitions, featuring work by 32 internationally recognised photographers and being held at public places in Sharjah and Dubai. The Festival is organised by the Sharjah Government Media Bureau, the media and communication arm of the Sharjah Government.

Running until November 25, the event, which includes 35 workshops and 25 seminars and lectures, targets professional and emerging photographers, university students, school children, photojournalists and community members of all ages who are passionate about the incredible power and influence of images.

During the launch, His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah attended Paul Nicklen’s “Polar Obsession” keynote session, followed by a tribute to the late Anja Niedringhaus offered by Muhammed Muheisen, and finally Lars Boering’s comments on responsible journalism.

His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi toured the festival’s indoor exhibitions, most notably the specially curated exhibition of the private Platinum Collection from Sir Don McCullin and the exhibition of Canadian nature photographer Paul Nicklen, who showcases more than 12 large size images in a special edition.

This year’s edition of Xposure also features an exhibition by the Pulitzer Prize winning Palestinian photojournalist Muhammed Muheisen, whose selection of 12 photos titled ‘Faces of Sharjah’ is exclusively displayed at the festival. An exhibition featuring the work of the 17 winners of the festival’s photography competition, which saw entries from 10,000 photographers from 98 countries around the world, is also being held as part of Xposure 2017.

His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah viewed the 50 display panels and images by young talented and new photographers that are being displayed as part of a new initiative introduced this year by the festival’s organisers. The work of the aspiring professionals is featured alongside that of renowned international photographers in the same space. The initiative is aimed at motivating talented photographers by giving them a valuable opportunity to promote their work at the festival where international photography agencies and companies can be attracted to and become interested in their work.

His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi also viewed the work of winners of the Timothy Allen Photography Scholarship Award, which was launched during the first edition of Xposure, with the aim of developing the capacity of professional and emerging photographers. The award offers talented image capturers an international platform to enable them to achieve success and become famous visual artists in various photographic categories. His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah praised the stunning images taken by photographers from France, Poland, Austria, United Kingdom, and Brazil, with the winning work being selected from among 1,076 entries from 56 countries around the world.

His Highness also visited one of the workshops conducted by a group of acclaimed photographers and trainers imparting the latest photographic technology and techniques. The workshops allow photographers in the region the opportunity to develop their abilities and advanced imaging techniques and learn from their tutors’ and peers’ experiences.

The workshops have been formulated to cover an array of interesting topics for photographers, such as location photography, street photography, aerial drone photography, product photography, underwater photography, photo archiving, camera focus techniques and the key elements of the picture. Other topics include studio lighting essentials, light and amendments, long exposure and post processing.

In his keynote address, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Council, highlighted the efforts of Muslim scientist Al Hassan Ibn Al Haitham and his scientific contributions that led to the invention of the camera through the discovery of the dark room with a circular opening that he called ‘the cabin,’ up to 1826 when the first known photograph was taken by French scientist Joseph Niépce.

“At the second edition of Xposure International Photography Festival, we capitalise on photography to share all the world’s secrets and figure out what is hidden behind the picture-an image that might have been taken spontaneously, or its photographers might have spent considerable time and made immense effort to stir our feelings towards a certain issue, just as the talented writer does using his pen,” said Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi.

His Highness pointed out that the festival brings together photographers from different corners of the globe, some of whom have been very creative in depicting the beauty of life and its fluctuations, others have risked their lives to capture a snap that conveys the truth, and others have experienced an inner struggle between recording an image that shows human suffering or attempting to alleviate that suffering, with their humanity taking precedence over the photograph.

“This festival focuses on supporting and encouraging our young people to refine their talents and equip them with the best tools to excel locally, regionally and internationally and to reach the highest level of professionalism. Our goal stems from our belief that an image should convey a message,” said Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi.

The Chairman of Sharjah Media Council said environment and nature take a centre stage at the festival, which has attracted an impressive elite group of nature photographers whose work has provided new sources of knowledge and rang alarm bells about the threats to our environment and the need to take action for a sustainable life.

Among the prominent photographers participating in Xposure 2017 is Emirati photographer and documentary filmmaker Ali Khalifa bin Thalith, the first Arab to win the Professional Photographer Leadership Award for his work. Other celebrated photographers include Egyptian-Korean photographer and filmmaker Abdul Rahman Gabr, who is interested in documenting people and places in Egypt, and Palestinian Muhammed Muheisen, who won the Pulitzer Prize twice and the British Time Magazine Award.

Also participating in Xposure 2017 are British multi-award winning travel photographer Timothy Allen and American award-winning photographer and photojournalist Eli Reed, best-known for his works as a war photographer in Lebanon, Panama and Haiti.

Other renowned photographers participating include British sports photographer Bob Martin, who is a three-time winner of the prestigious British Sports Photographer of the Year; Slovenian filmmaker Beno Saradzic, winner of the Gold World Medal at the New York Film Festival, and British photographer Colin Hawkins, a professional product photographer who worked for several prestigious international organisations and leading brands, such as Master Card, New York Times and the British Museum.

Also participating are American travel photographer Elia Locardi, who is one of the most followed photographers on social media, and his compatriot Kelli Reed Grant, the director of Photography at Yahoo News and former Director of Photo Operations at Newsweek Magazine.

British documentary photographer Marcus Bleasdale, who is best known for his work illustrating human rights violations, and his compatriot Sir Don McCullin, who worked as a war photojournalist in Lebanon, Northern Ireland, Vietnam and Cambodia, are also taking part in this year’s Xposure.

Other photographers include celebrated British portrait and fashion photographer Clive Arrowsmith, whose work was published in leading fashion magazines, most notably British & French Vogue and The Sunday Times Magazine.

The Festival’s visitors will be captivated by a series of spectacular visual shows by internationally celebrated multimedia artist Graham Fink. Visitors will witness the artist using neither his hand nor any other instrument but his eyes to create his striking line contour images. Fink’s process involves custom eye-tracking software to transform his gaze into a medium.

The festival will see the hosting of ‘Underwater Photography’, co-presented by Emirati photographer Ali Khalifa Bin Thalith and celebrated Bahraini photographer Zena Holloway. The workshop will focus on underwater safety, how to cope with challenges and potential threats, the brands of favourite cameras and lenses, best times for underwater photography and the amount of light necessary to capture the best images. Participants will be trained on how to use a camera underwater, with a huge water basin set up at the festival venue especially for this purpose.

A Photographic Consumer Trade Show will be held alongside the festival with the participation of leading photographic brands and local companies. The retail fair will showcase the latest cameras, accessories and equipment to the public, traders and amateur and professional photographers. A number of photographic products will be showcased for the first time in the region.

Xposure 2017 is sponsored by a large number of international brands, foremost of which is Sony Corporation (the festival’s official sponsor), along with Panasonic, Nikon, Fujifilm, and Tokina. Other leading brands participating include Manforotto Hasselblad, Jedox UK’s Future PLC, Bronkar Bro Foto, Nessie, Elinchrom and Zeiss.

The festival’s sponsors also include Netherlands-based World Press Photo Foundation, US Associated Press Agency, Natural History Museum in London, and Gulf Colour Film Labs, Grand Supermarkets, Gallery Workshop and FeEZ One.

Additional sponsors include Advanced Media, Cutting Edge, Arabian Gulf Mechanical Centre (BMW), Zoom Studio, Dolce Vita Photography, Emirates Photography Society, Arab Union of Photographers, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), Sharjah Media Corporation, Expo Centre Sharjah, and University City in Sharjah.

Today (Thursday) a number of live-stage sessions will be held at Xposure 2017, most notably the ‘The Art of Science’ by Fabian Oefner at 10am, and ‘A Winning Strategy’ at 12noon that will involve Muhammed Muheisen, Lars Boering, Kelli Reed Grant and Brent Stirton.

Later in the day, Cristina Mittermeier will speak at the ‘Waters Edge’ session at 5pm, followed by Lars Boering, who will highlight the power of photography at the ‘World Press Photo- The Power of Photography’ session at 6:15pm. Day two of the festival will conclude with the session ‘The Finding of the Core’ by Eli Reed at 7:30pm.

Alongside its events taking place at Expo Centre Sharjah, Xposure 2017 is hosting a number of outdoor exhibitions at Al Majaz Waterfront in Sharjah, as well as at City Walk, City Centre Mirdif and Mall of the Emirates in Dubai.

Among these exhibitions is the ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’, which is being conducted in collaboration with the Natural History Museum in London. The exhibition features 100 pictures of the winners of the prestigious award in its five categories.

The outdoor exhibitions also include the ‘World Press Photo Winners’, one of the most prominent touring photo exhibitions in the world. The award-winning exhibition has travelled to 100 cities in 45 countries and reached a global audience of 4 million. The fair showcases the winning work of the best photojournalistic pictures for 2017 that were captured by a selection of international photojournalists who work for the most important international newspapers and magazines.

The Festival is also featuring an exhibition by winners of the Sony World Photography Awards, which received more than million pictures from professional and emerging photographers from across the world last year.

SeaLegacy Foundation, a leading environmental orgnisation dedicated to raising awareness about ecosystems, global warming and environmental protection, is also taking part in the festival with an exhibition showcasing the best environmental photos and is expected to draw the attention of a large number of individuals and organisations concerned with ecological issues.

Other photo exhibitions include ‘Underwater World’ by Emirati photographer and documentary filmmaker Ali Khalifa bin Thalith and the ‘1/1000 of a Second’ exhibition featuring a selection of fast action shots by British sports photographer Bob Martin.

Xposure 2017 opens its doors to visitors on Thursday and Saturday from 10am to 10pm and on Friday from 2pm to 10pm, with entry free for the public. Interested visitors can find out more about the festival’s calendar of events by visiting: www.xposure.ae and follow the details of exhibitions, seminars and workshops on social networking platforms by using: #xposurexpf.

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