Iraqi lensmen steal the spotlight at Xposure contest - GulfToday

Iraqi lensmen steal the spotlight at Xposure contest


Ahmed Lazem’s winning entry, ‘My Birdie,’ depicts a young boy with his pet bird.

Iraqi photographers from the city of Basra have dominated Xposure International Photography Festival’s #HomeCaptured contest, now in its third week, as Ahmed Lazem took home the first prize of US$ 1,000 while Saad Al Hamady claimed the runner-up position, winning US$ 750.

Ahmed Lazem’s winning entry, ‘My Birdie, depicts a young boy with his pet bird and constant companion in this time of self-imposed home quarantine. The jury described the image as “A beautiful portrait that embodies the emotion of the child looking out together with his pet budgerigar. Soft lighting and the shallow depth of field draws the viewer into the thoughts of the child. Well framed and composed image with an excellent choice of focal length and tonal control.” ‘Light of Ramadan’, Al Hamady’s runner-up image has evocatively captured the spirit of the Holy Month. The photographer has quoted the words of a writer to describe his image thus: “In His infinite mercy, Allah has sent the light of Ramadan to erase the night. He has sent the month of the Qur’an so that He might elevate us and bring us from our isolation to His nearness.” In their evaluation of this photograph, the judges noted that “The feelings of loneliness and isolation in young people is well depicted in this environmental home portrait. It may be strange to think about Ramadan as being alone at home with only immediate family, but this well executed image displays the skill of the photographer in visually telling the story and in the photoshop skills.” Now entering its fourth week, #HomeCaptured is an easy-to-enter global competition that invites shutterbugs worldwide to use their artistic skills to capture the beauty of everyday moments at home or window views of the outside world.

A jury of experts will evaluate all entries on a weekly basis (Monday to Sunday) and score them independently on a five-score system that assesses their composition, technical quality, lighting, and creativity. Weekly winners will be notified by email every Wednesday, and their images will be published on Xposure’s StayHome website as well as on its social media platforms.

Entries can be uploaded at in JPG format. Contestants can submit one image in each 24-hour period over the duration of the contest.

In 2018, International Photography Festival, Xposure, hosted two world-renowned war photojournalists, Sir Donald McCullin and David Burnett.

Titled ‘Recording Change’, the interactive and highly attended session was moderated by Maan Habib, member of the National Press Photographers Association in the USA, and attended by Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Council, SMC, and Tariq Saeed Allay, Director of Sharjah Government Media Bureau, SGMB.

The acclaimed photojournalists spoke about their photographic experiences in conflict zones around the world, facing guns with their lenses. They also discussed the circumstances surrounding the coverage of events that forever changed human history such as the Vietnam War, the Iranian Revolution dethroning the Shah, Bangladesh war, the African famine, and covering the war in Syria and the Iraqi city of Mosul recently.

McCullin said, “What hurts the photographer most during such times is their inability to make a positive impact of those who are being affected by these wars; photojournalists are neither qualified doctors nor members of relief teams.” Burnett discussed the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder that might affect war photojournalists. “You cannot be detached while shooting humanitarian miseries. The horrifying scenes I have seen during these wars are traumas I never thought I would recover from,” he said.

Last year, Toronto-based travel and documentary cinematographer and photographer, Jeffrey Garriock, and New York City and Miami photographer, Ron B. Wilson, asserted, “Chernobyl is not a moment in time. People think of Chernobyl as an event that took place in 1986. It happened. Now it is over.

 But Chernobyl is a place and there is still, work that needs to be done there.” Focusing on narrating stories and bringing new perspectives through their work, Garriock and Wilson debuted clips from their upcoming documentary and still images from their ongoing project shot over a period of three weeks documenting contemporary life in Chernobyl, Ukraine, then part of the erstwhile Soviet Union, at a seminar titled “Generations of Chernobyl”.

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