Sharjah photography festival set to elevate learning experiences of professionals and enthusiasts

Xposure International Photography Festival brings together works of 70 world-renowned photographers

KT photo/M. Sajjad
KT photo/M. Sajjad

A Staff Reporter

Published: Thu 20 Jan 2022, 5:21 PM

Last updated: Thu 20 Jan 2022, 6:31 PM

More than 70 world-renowned photographers will come together on a single platform to showcase their compelling images through 45 solo and group exhibitions in Sharjah, officials said on Thursday.

Photography’s powerful role as a tool for change will be illuminated through 28 inspirational talks, while expert-led educational workshops will elevate the learning experiences of professionals and photography enthusiasts as the sixth edition of Xposure International Photography Festival gets underway at Expo Centre Sharjah from February 9 -15.

Organised by the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), Xposure 2022 will also raise awareness on marine conservation through powerful narratives that showcase the beauty and devastation of our fragile ocean ecosystems. Xposure’s first-ever International Ocean Conservation Summit will be held on February 10, under the theme ‘Saving our Oceans’.

The international festival’s 7-day agenda also includes announcement of winners of the Independent & Freelance Photojournalist Award and Xposure Photography and Film Awards.

International Ocean Conservation Summit

The world’s leading marine photographers will help shape a positive blueprint for the future of our oceans through their documentation of the visual effects of the environmental and climate change crises at Xposure this year. Held in partnership with the International League of Conservation Photographers, the summit brings together environmental activists, passionate explorers, and photographers, and changemakers from around the world to lead nine insightful panel discussions on lasting solutions and everyday acts to protect the environment.


Around 15,000 entries for Xposure Awards

The exceptional talents and extraordinary images of photographers worldwide are celebrated in Sharjah each year through the Xposure Photography and Film Awards. This year, the award received as many as 14,998 entries from 126 countries, including Switzerland, Greece, Canada, Germany, Finland, Italy, and Chile. Representing a 58 per cent increase over five years, the highest number of submissions this year came from China, India, Iran, Russia, Egypt, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and the UAE.

Entries were evaluated by 21 renowned photographers in the categories of: Portraiture, Architectural Photography, Drone Photography, Short Film and Moving Image, Junior Category, Travel Photography, Landscape Photography, Wildlife Photography, Photojournalism, and an exclusive category for Sharjah Government Employees.

Independent & Freelance Photojournalist Awards (IPFA)

On February 10, Xposure will award $15,000 to the first winner of the Independent & Freelance Photojournalist Award, which was announced by Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairman of Sharjah Media Council, to recognise and reward independent and freelance photojournalists who endeavour to take images to support news stories and to bring awareness of urgent issues from around the world.

The second-place winner will have a dedicated gallery space to display their work at Xposure 2022. The award’s categories include spot news, environment, and solutions.

The award received 133 entries from 51 countries comprising 1,265 pictures. Topping the list for highest number of entries are Spain, France, and the UK, followed by Syria, Turkey, India, Bangladesh, and the UAE. Prominent jurors of the award included Pollack Kira, Lars Boering, Aidan Sullivan, Ray Wells, and Muhammed Muheisen.

Step into experiences of 70 photographers

Visitors are invited to step into the fascinating worlds of visionary photographers and who will share their unique perspectives and experiences at Xposure this year. Prominent names include Steve McCurry, best known for his iconic picture taken in 1984 of an Afghan girl; James Nachtwey, celebrated photojournalist, and war photographer; Laurent Ballesta, the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year for 2021; Brian Skerry, specialising in marine wildlife and underwater environments; and Joel Sartore, founder of The Photo Ark, which documents endangered animals and species in human care.

45 Solo and Group Exhibitions

At Xposure, audiences can step into the aesthetic and emotionally compelling stories shared through more than 1,600 visual narratives and presented via 45 solo and group exhibitions. The stories span a broad spectrum of topics ranging from conflicts, natural disasters and disease to the serene environments of picturesque landscapes and the creatures that dwell within it.

Step into inspiration – 28 Inspiring talks

Budding shutterbugs of all age groups will be inspired to take forward their photographic goals through the 28 inspirational talks hosted at Xposure by renowned international photographers who will share their understanding of the world and the influences that have shaped their extraordinary journeys.

Step into knowledge – 25 Workshops, 24 Portfolio Reviews , 14 Focus Groups

Xposure welcomes photography enthusiasts to advance knowledge and image-making skills at 25 interactive workshops led by international photographers for beginners and professionals. In addition, 14 focus sessions and 24 portfolio reviews will be hosted by renowned professionals with extensive experience in commercial photography, photojournalism, documentary, landscape photography, travel, portraiture, and other genres of photography.

The power of the image

Tariq Saeed Allay, director-general of SGMB, said: “Today marks a new era for Xposure International Photography Festival as it bolsters its status as an international platform and discusses the future of humanity and the fragility of our planet through the lens of award-winning photographers, thought leaders and changemakers. Photography is a powerful tool for change, and we believe that photographers who champion humanitarian causes are changemakers too.”

“The festival’s comprehensive and vibrant programming agenda is a reflection of Sharjah’s vision and cultural project laid down more than 50 years ago by His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. Xposure zooms in on the human condition, celebrates unique works, highlights inspiring stories, and has emerged as the most sought-after event for photographers across the world to both showcase and hone their skills,” Allay added.


A global and inclusive platform

Alia Al Suwaidi, director of SGMB, said: “We, at Xposure, have an enduring belief in the power of photography to impact lives and the world around us, and we continue to invest in it to drive more positive change. Xposure is a platform for celebrated photographers to introduce their perspectives of the world to our audiences, highlighting the power and role of photography in forging connections and changing lives.”

Al Suwaidi continued: “Over the years, Xposure has gained a formidable reputation as a comprehensive, international platform for photography experts to share their experiences and stir the consciousness of viewers. Audiences gain the opportunity to dive into the exceptional visual storytelling of renowned photographers and can stay up to date with the latest photography techniques and equipment. The festival combines theoretical and experimental education and provides an opportunity to purchase artwork with proceeds donated to charities”.

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