Photographers are noble agents of change, says Sultan Bin Ahmed - GulfToday

Photographers are noble agents of change says Sultan Bin Ahmed


Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmed Al Qasimi and Tariq Saeed Allay honour photographer Giles Duley at the Xposure closing ceremony.

Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent

The fifth edition of Xposure International Photography Festival concluded in Sharjah with a tribute to the practitioners of the art for their dedication to telling stories that must be told. Organised by the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), Xposure 2021 also highlighted the important role the festival plays in exploring and developing talent, and in finding real opportunities for them to enter the world of photography.

As the curtain fell on the first truly international photography festival to go live after the COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdown in 2020, photographers as well as enthusiasts were overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the programmes Xposure offered. The masterfully curated exhibitions featuring stunning images, professional photography workshops and riveting talks by the 51 attending photographers opened them up to a world hitherto unknown, leaving them sometimes shaken, and sometimes exhilarated, but always changed.

The four day festival involved 54 exhibitions – 41 solo and 13 group – displaying 1,558 works by over 400 photographers, group displays, 21 public seminars and inspirational talks, 14 unique workshops, 8 in-focus groups, and 14 portfolio reviews.

The festival also served to highlight the creativity of amateur photographers in the UAE, and elsewhere and provided a platform to identify the talents and potentials from around the world.

This edition of Xposure also fulfilled the festival’s mandate to build bridges of constructive dialogue between different civilisations and cultures to enhance Sharjah’s position as a creative and sustainable global city for culture, heritage, arts and literature.

Speaking at the closing ceremony on Saturday evening, Sharjah Media Council Chairman Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmed al Qasimi told the participating photographers that the pictures they take today would serve as lessons and messages of hope and kindness for future generations.

“As the journey of the fifth edition of the International Photography Festival - Xposure 2021 concludes, the stories behind each picture we saw will live in our memories forever. We learned so much from these images… We learned that we all have a bigger responsibility towards the world. We learned that photographers are noble agents of change,” he said.

Paying tribute to the ‘agents of change’, Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmed Al Qasimi said, “They are the first to witness exceptional moments and open our eyes to the world. Their pictures serve as a reminder that change is needed. Their images spur awakening and rally the masses. They push for change to happen. As I explored the exhibitions, I saw that people across cultures have won over challenges. These photographs reaffirmed my belief that the trials humanity faces today will surely pass. We will overcome them, and the outcome of our experiences will reflect in greater resilience.”

Thanking the organisers, photographers, partners and visitors who had contributed to making the festival a success, he concluded on an optimistic note, saying, “I hope when we meet next year, we will have several stories about successfully overcoming this ordeal, and will find each other safe and well.”

SMC Chairman Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmed Al Qasimi and Director of Sharjah Government Media Bureau Tariq Saeed Allay honoured the winners of the 2021 edition of the Xposure International Photography Awards at a gala award ceremony.

Hossein Fardinfard was announced the overall winner in the Xposure 2021 Awards for his image titled ‘Blackout’.

The winners in the other categories were - Architecture: Anna Wacker, runner-up Fatima Qader;  Drone: Albert Dross, runner-up Ahmad Abbasi;  Junior: Abdullah Al Raese, runner-up Joel Josy; Landscape: Sheng Liu, runner-up Wong Choon Keat; Macro Photography: Pedro Luis Saiz, runner-up Riad Hamzi; Photojournalism: Alain Schroeder, runner-up Simon Morciz Sabjan; Portraiture: Kevin Shi, runner-up Asim Ijaz; Short Film: Zahra Kababian, runner-up Tripty Tamang Pakhrin; Travel: Wei Fu, runner-up Mingqian Wang; and Sharjah Government open category: Mohamed Noufal, runner-up Abdullah Aref.

The five winners of the prestigious 10-day residency programme, Timothy Allen Photography Scholarship Award (TAPSA) – Michal Novotný, Kiran Ridley, F.Dilek Uyar, Ata Ranjbarzeydanlou, and Natalia Gorshkova – were also honoured at the closing ceremony. The award saw a huge surge in the number of applicants this year.

Related articles