Xposure 2018: Capturing World Today For a Better Tomorrow

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  • Photographers Discuss How Their Art Can Bring About Positive Change


The third edition of Xposure International Photography Festival opened its doors yesterday (Wednesday, November 21) at Expo Centre Sharjah, providing a visual feast for hundreds of visitors to savour.

In addition to the 46 exhibitions, 16 workshops, 18 inspiring talks and photographic /video production trade show, the exhibition will also host a series of focus groups, the first of which got under way on Wednesday afternoon.

The Photography Focus Group, entitled Everyone is a Documentarian, by Lawrence Jackson, provided guests with the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of basic photography from an ex-Official White House Photographer.

“Everyone is a documentarian. Pick up a camera or pen and paper and you are recording the moments and times of your life,” says Jackson. And for Jackson, this makes for a colourful life indeed.

Based in Washington DC, USA, Jackson covers news, events, editorial, portrait and lifestyle photography. “I love the fact that photography has the power to inform, inspire and evoke emotion,” says Jackson. “Sometimes all three things happen in one picture.

“There’s always a chance to capture something different when picking up a camera. Whether it’s through a work assignment or just spending time with my family. Photography helps us to appreciate the moment, so that it will resonate with us all a little bit longer.”

For Jackson there are three essential elements for a good photograph, with at least one necessary to produce a good image: they must be emotive, informative and interesting.

“Photography creates a digital map of history,” Jackson adds. “It documents life events.”

Jackson’s illustrious career has seen him “very fortunate,” he says, to meet some of the world’s most inspirational people, including Nelson Mandela, along with some of the world’s most prominent politicians, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

One of they key, defining moments in Jackson’s life occurred in 2009, on the day Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States. A former White House photojournalist for the Associated Press, Jackson then became a White House Photographer, tasked with documenting the life of Obama for the eight years he was in office.

Today, his most recent collection sees him taking portraits of former Obama staff members. “Obama was their inspiration, so now they are pursuing jobs in government or jobs that are giving back to the community,” he says. By putting their life in the frame, Jackson is giving them the ultimate exposure.

Jackson’s Yes, We Did exhibition at Xposure shows 18 images that capture the life, times and intimate moments of the Obama era, both inside and outside of the president’s office.

The second focus session, called A Meaningful Difference, was led by international advertising, commercial and fine art photographer Keith Berr, who discussed with participants how and why photographers should use the power of photography to inspire and create a meaningful difference in the world.

An award-winning photographer, Berr has been producing remarkable images for more than 30 years, travelling all over the world to capture breathtaking vistas, people and food. Today, his focus is mainly on meaningful causes, highlighting social and environmental subjects. It is this work that has won him plaudits and awards; his current project, called Save the Salt, is calling for the preservation of the Bonnevile Salt Flats in Utah and was a key discussion point during his focus session.

Talking about the plight of the salt flats, Berr explains how for the past few years he has dedicated his free time to raising awareness to prevent the destruction of the Bonneville Salt Flats, a historic landmark in Utah. For the past several decades, the Potash mining industry has been removing the salt, driving the flat surface down from what once measured 7ft in thickness to mere inches, with the overall surface area reduced from 100,000 acres to just 30,000. Now an “area of critical environmental concern,” Berr’s images of the salt flats are hoped to help in raising awareness and therefore encourage funding for work needed to save the landmark.

“It is essential that the salt flats continue to exist for the next generation of children to enjoy,” Berr says. “And I hope my photographs help in creating the awareness needed for this to be achieved.”

Visitors can view select pieces from Berr’s Save the Salt Campaign at Xposure, which will run until Saturday, November 24. General admission is free.

For more information about Xposure, including full details about all workshops, courses and programmes, as well as information about the photographers exhibiting, visit: www.xposure.ae.

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