Sharjah’s Xposure 2018 Shows the World through 90 Different Lenses

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• Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi: Xposure celebrates the beauty of diversity • Four-day international festival highlights the principal role of photography in shaping cultures and conscience

Photography is unquestionably the most popular form of art practised today; everyone is a photographer. And, for the past three years, Xposure International Photography Festival, hosted by the Sharjah Government Media Bureau, has been creating a vibrant creative and educational space for professional and emerging photographers in the Arab world, hobbyists as well as lovers of art.

Themed ‘Inspiring Moments’, the third edition of Xposure concluded last night (Saturday, November 24) at Expo Centre Sharjah, registering its biggest triumph yet. A gala award ceremony saw Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed al Qasimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Media Council and HE Tariq Saeed Allay, Director of Sharjah Government Media Bureau, honoured winners of the 10-category Xposure International Competition that received 13,500 submissions this year from 112 countries.

Negin Homayounpur was judged winner of the Short Film category; Robin Yong scooped the Travel Photography award, the Macro Photography category saw Andy Abdul Halil as the winner while Patricia Soon was recognised with the Architectural Photography award.

The award for Photojournalism was won by Antonio Renuncio, and Natasha Mandal took the Photo Manipulation category prize. Street Photography was won by Sujan Sarkar, while Samah Al Khuffash was crowned the champion in Best of the Emirates category. The Junior Category, which celebrates young photographers under 18 years of age residing in the UAE, was awarded to Shivani Srikanth for a captivating piece titled ‘Balance’.


Finally, the tenth category titled Sharjah Government Open which has been added to the list of Xposure awards this year, and is especially dedicated to recognising the emirate’s public servants who practice the art, was awarded to Ahmed Albairaq.  


The Overall Winner, a surprise category announced at the awards ceremony, went to Manaswi Jinadra for a spectacular photo of the desert she titled ‘The Shadow Shepperd’. 

Winners of Xposure’s Timothy Allen Photography Scholarship Award -- Linus Escandor; Stephanie Foden; Ranita Roy; Dan Giannopoulos; and Sharafat Ali were also honoured on the occasion. A certificate of appreciation was awarded to ex-TAPSA winner, Thomas for his contribution to making this edition successful.


Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi: Xposure celebrates beauty in diversity

Speaking on the occasion, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Council, said: “Sharjah has been and will always be committed to supporting culture, and will continue educating the UAE community in the practice and appreciation of the arts. Photography and culture are two fascinating subjects that can be combined to encourage and educate, to develop creative talent and personal skills, while building confidence and self-belief.”


The SMC Chairman said: “Everyone has a different approach to photography; every photographer is looking for a unique outcome through the application of their craft – Xposure 2018 celebrated all these unique perspectives on one platform. Through the festival, we seek to highlight the beauty in diversity, and showcase it to the world. I thank everyone for being here and contributing to yet another inspiring edition of the festival, and look forward to hosting more creativity and outstanding talent next year.”


He thanked all participating photographers who flew in from around the world, international organisations, leading trade brands like Sony Middle East, Nikon, Cannon, and others for putting up a fantastic trade show, workshops and product launches at the festival, sponsors, participants, and visitors, for contributing to the festival’s continued growth and success.  


The 4-day festival attracted 10,000 visitors who had been able to meet
90 internationally-acclaimed photographers and exhibited 700 of their best-known images in 30 individual exhibitions.  


Packed with indoor and outdoor exhibitions in Dubai and Sharjah, photo walks, special talks, and workshops taught by the likes of David Burnett, Rick Friedman, Rob Taggart, Sir Don McCullin, and several others, the spectacular fest of photography brought the region’s emerging photographers and practitioners a mix of international best practices, latest technical know-how, professional guidance, expert portfolio reviews, and most of all, some of the finest moments in history captured by big names in the field through the past 70 years. 

As photography reinforces its role in telling some of the most inspiring and powerful stories around the world, Xposure, the region’s first international photography festival, used its
world-leading photography platform to share inspiring stories about environment protection, rapid urbanisation, the largest forced displacement of people since the World Wars, the role of the art in defining and promoting fashion, diverse natural landscapes and world cultures.

One of the most talked about themes of photography at Xposure 2018 was that of responsible practice of the art, especially at a time when around 2.5 billion people worldwide own devices embedded with digital cameras.

The festival emphasised that while being receptive and unprejudiced is invaluable in making the most of any photography opportunity, it is more important than ever to practise it sensibly due to the far-reaching impact of images.


Xposure 2018 debutants

Staying true to its tradition of bringing something new and exciting every year to its audience, the festival presented some of the latest and most talked about global developments in the field. Tube light-painting, for instance, which has become one of the most popular forms of modern photography was brought to the festival by two of the most recognisable light painting artists at the moment, Eric Paré and Kim Henry.

Media artist, Refik Anadol’s installation ‘Melting Memories’, is worth a mention too. He brought his massive, customised 16x20 ft LED media wall to the region for the first time, which hosted augmented data sculptures and light projections from inside the human brain. For most of the festival’s visitors, it was the first time they saw visual art being created by brain functions, and presented them the opportunity to reflect on concepts of aging, consciousness, sub-consciousness, and ultimately mortality.   


Focus Groups was another Xposure 2018 debutant, which brought industry stalwarts like Sir Don McCullin, Philip Lee Harvey, and others to lead shed light on various photography genres like documentary, street, travel, and more, to the attendees of these one-to-one mentoring sessions.  A Sharjah Events’ activity titled ‘iBoothMe’ engaged visitors to Xposure’s outdoor exhibitions across six prominent venues in Sharjah and Dubai in a novel selfie competition, and gave away 100 cameras as prizes. 


With the success of the third edition of Xposure, Sharjah has reminded the region and the world, once again, about its eminence as the home of culture and the impact of photography on shaping a collective human conscience and a universal culture that unites us all.    

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