Xposure, where photography makes history - GulfToday

Xposure, where photography makes history


The 5th Xposure 2021 International Photography Festival will have a new lineup of extraordinary clicks.

Few things capture the essence of human emotion, the range of feelings, as a photograph does. It is more than something that, at first blush, has face value; it also  encapsulates the microcosm of life, be it outbursts of joy, nervy times, trials and tribulations, conflict, utter sorrow, hatred, tears of suffering, panic… the expression tells it all.

In graphic detail, it lays down the ethos and pathos of humanity with telling effect, regardless of race, religion or nationality. Every frame tells a story, every click captures a picture, perhaps for posterity.

This is why the fifth annual Xposure 2021 International Photography Festival matters. It brings to Sharjah some of the most inspiring images from across the world with 1,558 photos by 400 international photographers.

 The inaugural ceremony was attended by Deputy Ruler of Sharjah Sheikh Abdullah Bin Salem Bin Sultan Al Qasimi and Chairman of Sharjah Media Council Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmed Al Qasimi.

Addressing the gathering, Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmed Al Qasimi emphasised the unparalleled struggles of photographers who leave their families behind to face the unknown in search of a moment, which they immortalise through their lenses.

“Through our examination of modern history, we see the instrumental role of photographs in highlighting the needlessness of war and in alleviating people’s suffering. Other images have helped bring wild species back from the brink of extinction, rallied behind environmental causes, and climate change. Xposure is a celebration of every skilled photography professional in the world who wields their cameras to document events, and in the process, the photograph transforms into one. A picture is worth a thousand words and tells an important story… Each story has the power to influence change…” the SMC Chairman added.

Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmed Al Qasimi announced earlier that the festival is gearing up to launch a special award for photojournalists with press credentials, in recognition of their fearless devotion to documenting health crises, conflicts, natural and manmade disasters.

The photojournalists offer us a window into important changes taking place worldwide, and who allow us to relate to the varied experiences of people from different countries and cultures. Their work has been far more notable in the past year since the outbreak of COVID-19 has created unprecedented circumstances globally.

Some lensmen take the road less travelled, such as English documentary photographer and writer Giles Duley, who lost both his legs and an arm as he stepped on a landmine while on assignment in Afghanistan in 2011.

“I realised I was not a war photographer. I document love, I choose to document not war, but love,” he said, stressing that through his career of photographing lives of people living in the harshest conditions, he has learnt to be thankful for what he has and not lose hope over what he doesn’t.

Underscoring the festival’s message this year, Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmed Al Qasimi noted, “Xposure brings us together this year to dive into exceptional visual storytelling by the world’s best photographers. These stories will not be about the pandemic, but life; they will focus not on social distancing, but human interaction, celebrating nature, architecture, and the farthest places imaginable on Earth.” All previous editions of Xposure carried one slogan. This year it chose eight to emphasise all the messages the festival has imparted since its inception five years ago.

With its overarching emphasis on art and culture, it was only appropriate that the event be held in Sharjah.  The emirate, thanks to the generosity and patronage of the able and understanding leadership, understands the worth of the world of photography in particular.

In a world dominated by the coronavirus, the exhibition certainly provides a healing touch: it lifts the spirits.

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