Xposure International Photography Festival 2024: Seven names to look out for this year

Annual event at Expo Centre Sharjah will present works by 400 snappers from around the world

The eighth iteration of the festival is gearing up to present works by 400 photographers from around the world. Photo: Xposure International Photography Festival
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The eighth Xposure International Photography Festival promises to be the largest and most diverse yet.

The event, running from Wednesday to March 5, is returning to the Expo Centre Sharjah, but this time taking over about 33,000 square metres. The festival has been steadily growing with each iteration since its inaugural event in 2016, bringing in established and emerging photographers, expanding its workshop offerings and boosting its award section.

The festival is gearing up to present works by 400 photographers from around the world. The works will be displayed across 90 solo and group exhibitions.

Here are a few award-winning photographers to look out for this year.

Afshin Ismaeli

Ismaeli is a Kurdish-Norwegian war photographer whose work provides an empathetic lens to some of the most tumultuous events in recent history.

He has covered humanitarian issues and conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, where he photographed the fall of Kabul and the Taliban takeover. His work has won several awards, including the Journalism & Media International Centre’s Picture of the Year in 2021, cementing him as one of the foremost war photographers of our time.

Ismaeli will be presenting in a solo exhibition at the festival, titled Shadows and Resilience: Life Under the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Rick Smolan

Smolan is a US photographer who has worked for several leading publications, including Time, Life and National Geographic. Yet, even with his stellar credentials, Smolan is perhaps most renowned for co-authoring the book series A Day in the Life Of.

The series gives a platform to photographers to take pictures of different parts of the world across a 24-hour cycle. The books, which began publishing in the early 1980s, gave insights into different parts of the world, from Japan, Australia, China and Thailand to the former Soviet Union.

Smolan is now the chief executive of Against All Odds Productions, a company that helps journalists from across the world realise crowd-sourced projects. He will also be discussing the initiative during a talk at the festival, highlighting the intersection between storytelling and technology.

Thandiwe Muriu

In her arresting, vibrant portraits, it is evident that Kenyan phtographer Muriu draws from her experiences in advertising. She has collaborated with brands including Apple, Dior and Lavazza as part of her profession, and her work has been featured on CNN, BBC and Vogue.

Muriu’s unique take on portraiture was honed as a result of her self-taught background. The artist presented her first major solo show in Paris last year. Her exhibition at Xposure is titled Camo and features works that feature subjects wearing patterned clothes that camouflage seamlessly with the backdrop, an aesthetic she has developed reflecting on African traditions and pop-culture.

Nicole Tung

Hong Kong photographer Tung has covered some of the most pressing humanitarian issues of our time. She has highlighted the experiences of Native American war veterans and former child soldiers of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Tung has documented the refugee crisis in Europe, the ripples of the Isis onslaught in Iraq and Syria, as well as the surge in abuses against women in Turkey. She was present during the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, and in 2022, provided photographic insights to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Her experiences have made her acutely aware of the dangers photojournalists face while trying to document tumultuous events and in conflict zones. In 2015, she was part of the board of the Frontline Freelance Register, an initative dedicated to freelance journalists who face dangers as part of their work, and continues to raise awareness about the necessity of protecting reporters around the globe. Her exhibition at Xposure is titled As Strong as the War, As Soft as the Peace.

Edouard Elias

After living in Egypt for a decade, Elias travelled back to France in 2009 to study business. Soon, however, he decided to pursue photography instead, and in less than three years, he was covering the conflict in Syria, photographing from the frontlines of the war between rebel fighters and the army of Bashar El Assad.

However, in June 2013, Elias was captured by Isis fighters and would spend 11 months in captivity. Instead of dissuading him from photojournalism, Elias was ever more motivated to highlight stories from the centre and periphery of international conflicts. In 2014, just after he was released, he travelled to Central African Republic to document the ongoing civil war.

At Xposure, Elias is presenting Well 77. The photography series follows firefighters working for Naft Shamal, an oil company in Iraq, as they face the hazards of containing and extinguishing the fires that erupt from oil wells. Elias specifically photographed a weeks-long fight between firefighters and the flames at Well 77 in 2017, in the margins of the dwindling war between Iraq and Isis.

Angela and Jonathan Scott

Angela and Jonathan Scott are among the world’s most distinguished nature photographers. They are the only couple to have each won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition.

Over the past three decades, the couple has travelled across all seven continents, to photograph and to lead workshops. They founded the Sacred Nature Initiative in 2021, a non-profit that is dedicated to raising awareness about the natural environment and the necessity of protecting it. Under the initiative, the couple released the books Sacred Nature: Life’s Eternal Dance and Sacred Nature 2: Reconnecting People to Our Planet.

Their exhibition at Xposure, Mara-Serengeti: A Big Cat Paradise, ties in to the first volume, and is focused on ecosystem of the protected area in Tanzania and its lions, leopards and cheetahs.

Xposure International Photography Festival is open daily from 10am to 10pm and on Fridays from 2pm to 10pm. A full list of participating photographers is available at xposure.net

Updated: March 12, 2024, 6:48 AM