From portrait specialists to travel technicians, diverse photographic talents from around the globe are in town for Dubai Photo Week.
The public highlight of the Middle East’s largest annual photography event, organised by Gulf Photo Plus, was Photo Friday, at which 14 visiting professionals took part in a day of seminars and tutorials at Knowledge Village.
They shared tips of the trade, their inspirations and anecdotes with hundreds of curious listeners. Here are five things we learnt.
1Photography is valuable – so take wise steps
Like any professional skill, photography has value. But don’t get bogged down thinking in strictly financial terms.
David Hobby, the founder of Strobist.com, told how he gives up hours every year in his hometown photographing starving artists who cannot afford to pay for a photo shoot.
Offering him a break from the day-to-day “guys in ties” assignments, he says the projects are among his “most-fulfilling”, offering the artists a valuable promotional tool. The money comes back around, too – by shooting extensively in his community, Hobby’s profile rises and more work comes his way.
2With a camera, you can time travel
Any photographer knows the time of the day is key. The “golden hours” after sunrise and before sunset remain the most-prized time to shoot. Better yet is the “blue hour” of twilight, says American travel photographer Elia Locardi, when dwindling natural light mixes with the artificial light from homes and streetlamps. Use a longer exposure to exploit the contrast between warm and cold.
But such moments are fleeting and imperfect – use a tripod and shoot a range of identical stills as the light changes, then merge them in post-production to create the ideal composite image.
3Your photos can be used for good
A photo doesn’t only speak a thousand words – it can raise a thousand dollars – or more. Through her organisation, Beautiful Together, lifestyle photographer Tamara Lackey uses powerful images of children in orphanages and foster care across the United States and Africa to raise funds for new and better facilities.
The UAE-based Swedish photojournalist Katarina Premfors introduced us to Photographers for Hope, a non-profit group whose members travel the world to document youth projects in the hope that their images will help to promote social change.
• www.beautifultogether.org; www.photographersforhope.org
4Nothing is too mundane to photograph
In the increasingly banal world of mobile/social photography, it is easy to think only a serious subject deserves lens time. Magazine veteran Andrew Hetherington proved quite the opposite with his second personal project – a photo book documenting all the hotel rooms he stayed in over four years. The photos were organised simply by room number. Work is under way on a follow-up – documenting the tray table in front of him on every flight he takes – and the results are oddly compelling.
5Mobile photography really is magical
The advent of Instagram might have rankled with the photographic establishment, but American photojournalist Ed Kashi showed how mobile photography can be used to put important issues in the public sphere.
Instagram has broken down the conventional barriers and made publishers of anyone with a smartphone, he says.
Kashi uses his own account to communicate with 230,000 followers directly, often to highlight advocacy projects and injustices around the world.
• Dubai Photo Week runs until Friday. For more details, visit www.gulfphotoplus.com