XPOSURE – International Photography Festival

  • Tuesday 18, October 2016 03:54 PM
  • XPOSURE – International Photography Festival
Sharjah 24: Xposure is an annual International Photography Festival that features professional photographers, photography workshops, seminars, trade shows, presentations, competitions and exhibitions.

Xposure is the first of its kind international festival. It was only launched this year and it took place at Expo Centre in Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates.

Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to attend the workshops and presentations, but I was able to check the exhibits displayed indoors. The exhibition span across different categories of photography attracting and inspiring people.

I had the chance to attend the exhibition on Thursday, 13 October 2016, and was able to take some pictures and short videos on my phone.

I very much enjoyed the portrait photographs exhibited; they gave me fresh ideas on using background as a context. Below are (some) of the photographs that I have personally taken using my phone at the exhibition (I apologise for the poor resolution and clarity of the  photographs as I couldn’t avoid the spotlights reflection on the glass frames).

The first two photographs from the left belong to photographer David Alan Harvey’s “Tell it like it is”. The photographs are glimpses into the life of a family living in a Norfolk Slums.  David left the message for the viewers to interpret.  He seems to concentrate more on emotions and how the viewer interprets them.  His photographs especially the first one of the little boy lying in bed, is so memorable because it touches the heart. There is so much to see and interpret in this photograph.  My eyes kept wandering into the details of the photograph, from the curtain tied on to the bed to the child on the bed with his eyes open to the clothes hung on the door and the cracks on the wall! The photograph was grainy in black and white, giving it nice texture.  His other portrait of the girl standing on a wooden house looking straight at the camera with her eyes and expressions telling a lot about how she feels. You can read her sadness from the eyes. The photo tells us a lot about where this girl lives, how she dresses and the financial situation of her family in general.  The photographer used the background as a context to give more information about this girl. I liked how the wooden walls lead the eye to the girl and back.

The next four photographs by photographer Tom Stoddart are also emotional.  I liked how Stoddart photographed the old woman with the cracked wall behind her. It reminded me of the exercise on how to use a background as a context to tell more about the subject photographed.   The wrinkles in the woman’s face melted in the cracks on the wall behind her reveal the story and secrets about this woman’s life and how hard it was. It tells us how strong and determined she was to face the hard life, and how the wall stood there with all those cracks (tough and strong). Yet, her deep eyes give you a warm feeling of perhaps a wonderful mother or grandmother.

In his three other photographs, the gaze of his subjects play a great role in those images. There is an empty space beyond the frame that allows us to share the subject’s gaze. The mother with her child looking at something while we can see the thin legs of a starving person.  Her eyes cry mercy and the thin legs define starvation and the state those poor people are in. The starving boy looking at the man who is carrying a bag of food punches in the heart. You can’t help but compare what clothes the man is wearing and how the boy is half-naked, how the man is healthy and walking while the boy is weak and crawling!

The last portrait by photographer Muhammad Muheisen is of a Syrian girl called Zahra; she is 5 and is trapped in an informal tented settlement near the Syrian border on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan. The portrait is so powerful and her gaze is so heartbreaking and moving. The photographer said that she told him she never went to school!

The exhibition was so eye opening and enlightening. I wish I had the time to benefit from what the festival had to offer but maybe next year.