Three Emirati photographers showcase their unique work at international event


IN the past, we used to hear about dedicated photography festivals held around the world. We followed their news on social media platforms to know what was new in the photography scene. We used to dream of attending such events because they promoted and celebrated photographers and their work. Then came Xposure, the International Photography Festival, born in Sharjah, to nurture our talents and boost our creativity.

These are the views of three Emirati photographers exhibiting their work at Xposure 2018.

“Pictures serve as visual memories,” says Yousef Al Zaabi. “When we see a 30-year-old picture, we revisit that exciting, split second when the shutter closed and the moment was captured. It might be a picture from our childhood, or of a close person who passed away. That photograph keeps that memory alive for many years.

“Photographers snap a picture on an impulse; they have a passion to capture a visual that is unique from their point of view. Each photographer captures a bit of himself in that picture, and each photo might be viewed or interpreted differently according to the person viewing it.”

Al Zaabi sees the launch of Xposure as a real turning point for Emirati photographers. The event’s agenda highlights the role of a photographer from both a social and a cultural perspective, which, in turn, raises awareness about important topics and issues, such as global warming and the plight of refugees in the region and around the world.

Yousef Al Habshi’s passion is for macro photography, and he sees the invention of cameras as the beginning of a new era for mankind. “We can’t really measure the massive impact of cameras in our lives. Space science was made possible by lenses. Cameras made it possible for us to document our findings and discover weird and intricate things. They also helped us document news stories with pictures that fortified the story with visual credibility. I still recall pictures that changed history. Without photography, big events or moments in history would have faded into obscurity.”

“When I notice someone closely viewing a macro picture of an eye of a bee or a fly that

I took, with an astonished expression on their face, I get immense joy knowing that I provided them with something new; something they hadn’t really thought of before,” Al Habshi says.

He adds: “There is so much detail and density in small things. Curiosity, which I view as a pillar of creativity, made me explore and document these macro things, bringing the small and invisible to the naked eye.”

Speaking of the challenges in macro photography, Al Habshi says: “There are many challenges in this line of photography, be they physical or technical. For example, the more we zoom in on an object, the more the details become blurry. Finding accurate and scientific information about a creature may be the biggest challenge we face. Such information helps us understand the nature of the species and the proper way to take photographs. We also face challenges in lighting and vibration, which play a big part in a photo’s overall composition.”

Echoing Al Zaabi, Al Habshi acknowledges the importance of Xposure International Photography Festival, adding that it’s capturing the attention of photographers from around the world, not just regionally, due to the exposure for photographers, along with the networking opportunities the platform provides.

Mohammed Al Musabi roams open landscapes looking for that unique shot. Similar to a seasoned hunter, a photographer needs to be alert and aware of their surroundings to find the right visual at the right time and angle to get the perfect shot.

“Before taking a picture, I research the area to find the perfect setting, taking into consideration the sun’s position, the weather and any other elements that might affect my photograph. Elements in the great outdoors can change frequently and without notice. It is like hunting prey- you want to find the opportune moment to take that shot that brings in harmoniously the surroundings and coloring to form the perfect picture, notwithstanding the time it might take,” he says.

He too praised Xposure, saying: “We are proud to have such an event in our country that brings together photographers from all over the world to exchange ideas and expertise, in addition to viewing the work of renowned photographers. The event helps us quench our thirst for new and exciting information, which helps us to stay updated on the latest photography technologies and techniques.”

Organized by Sharjah Government Media Bureau, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi, Supreme Council member and Ruler of Sharjah, Xposure was launched in 2016 and brings together professional photographers, photography enthusiasts, filmmakers, students and educators from around the world to learn new skills and network, while showcasing the latest photographic products. Xposure takes place at Expo Centre Sharjah from Nov. 21-24. — SG