Gulf Photo Plus – PhotoFriday

Well its been a while and I’ve been busy with life. I have been relying more on my written learning log than typing up my notes straight away and now I’m landed with lots of work to do !

Dubai holds a photography festival every year in March. March is the ‘Art’ month in Dubai so to speak.  I purchased tickets for PhotoFriday at the Dubai Conference centre in Knowledge village. PhotoFriday is organized by GPP and is a day filled with seminars, talks and panel discussions by some of the worlds top photographers. Then the following week is full of workshops and events. It is very well organized. I have just posted my thoughts for a more in depth view please visit the photographers individual websites

Ed Kashi, his seminar was titled ‘ A Life in Candid Intimacy’

My first seminar was Ed Kashi’s A life in Candid Intimacy’. I was really looking forward to this because I enjoy images with a story to tell. Ed Kashi does long form social documentary, he has branched out from photography into film and showed several 10 minute films about social causes from Children in Syria to Climate change in America.

At the Q&A section I asked him who influenced him throughout his career. His said at this point he admires other photographers but no one influences him at the moment. In the past when he was learning, he was influenced by several great photographers, he went to list them all but I only managed to write a few of the names down.  Henri Cartier-Breeson was mentioned and I had noticed earlier in his presentation there was an image which was a replication of Henri Cartier-Breeson man stepping over a puddle but Ed’s image a man was jumping over a fire in Northern Ireland during a street riot. I was impressed with myself for spotting that. The main point I learnt from this seminar is get excited about what you are photographing and then it will just come easily to you because you are eager to seek it out.

David Hobby seminar  ‘The Trip Comes First: How to balance Travel with Photography’

David Hobby was next.  I chose his seminar because I love to travel and go new places. His seminar mainly focused on ‘how not to look like a jerk,by carrying around lots of camera gear’. How to manage with less gear and how to have a family holiday and get to take photos as well. This guy was funny and very knowledgeable. He understood about family life and how it is a constant balancing act trying to fit photography round the kids and spouse. He had some brilliant tips and funny stories which made the time go quickly. I managed to take 3 pages of notes and do some sketches. The main point I learnt from David Hobby was ‘prepare beforehand and take as little as possible’. David uses a Fuji, I have been thinking about buying a Fuji x100S. Hopefully by the summer I can afford one, the more he spoke about his camera the more I could see that my DSLR is too bulky for travel photography.


Panel Discussion: Straight Talk: Evaluating the Middle East Photography Scene.

My Final seminar of the day was a Panel Discussion. Straight Talk- Evaluating the Middle Eastern Photography Scene.

This discussion was popular because the Secretary General of Hipa was one of the Panelists. Everyone was introduced and the first thing to be discussed was a scathing review from The Telegraph about an Arab art exhibition. Everyone was very polite and disagreed with the Telegraph. Then Copyright laws were mentioned as apparently there is a big problem with companies stealing images in the GCC region. Education and Funding was discussed, as well as photographers day rates. Regulation of photography clubs, courses and photographers was suggested to stop people being financially ripped off and that was dismissed.  ‘Restricted expression’ was mentioned and the panel suggested it was cultural and that a photographer needs to respect the culture of the region. On the back of that question I asked if they thought that photography was allowed to push the boundaries in Art like in the West.  I was just told ‘Yes’ then they went on about how much money is spent on art projects in the Middle East. They missed my point I didn’t push it.

Since I have been researching photographers, artists and art critics I can see what is lacking here and I do find it frustrating. I came away from this discussion wanting to go home to England for the ‘Freedom of expression’, resources that are free and widely available to everyone and public libraries with a good selection of books. The panel stated that things will change but they will take time. I can only hope that they will.







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