Veteran photographers share critical life lessons at Xposure 2024

March 04, 2024 / 7:35 PM
Sharjah 24: The Xposure International Photography Festival hosted a workshop on Monday titled ‘How Do I Start?’ by Mark Julian Edwards, a leadership consultant and photographer. The session aimed to address the often paralysing hesitation that comes with the beginning of any project and offered ways to overcome it. Mark, a seasoned expert in leadership development, opened up about his personal leap into creative fulfilment through his photo book, Faces of Mallorca, and stressed upon the essence of initiating one's visions.
“It all starts with an exciting idea,” he said, adding, “If you have an idea that excites you and could excite the people who you would reach out to or collaborate with for the realisation of that project, then I am here to help you and suggest how to make it a reality.” The session served as both a masterclass in photography and a motivational talk.

Mark’s photo exhibition, "Faces of Mallorca," at the International Photography Festival is an ode to the people of the beautiful island city, Mallorca, in Spain. “It is a famous tourist spot, known for its sun, sand, beach, and good food, but what makes it truly special are its people. So, I got along with a German friend who complemented my strengths, and together we embarked upon this project to capture the people of Mallorca,” Mark told the audience.

The next step is to “Go big,” he said. “Rather than settling on documenting a fragment of Mallorca, we expanded our vision and thought of capturing the entire island and illustrating its diverse life through local narratives,” Mark noted. This grand scale of the project was ambitious, but it helped draw participants in, lending the project gravity and ultimately placing Mallorca on the world stage far differently than before.

Mark’s biggest learnings from this project were the importance of playing to one’s strengths. “I mean identifying your behavioural fortitude rather than simply relying on technical prowess. It's not about what you are good at but rather what attributes you can harness to give your project authenticity, resilience, and relatability,” he said.

He also reminded the audience that it is not necessarily about making profound industry disruptions. “It's about allowing yourself the chance to connect with a project that resonates deeply, challenges established personal boundaries, and embraces the unknown with tenacity,” Mark noted.

The talk was a call to action, urging participants to look inward for excitement and to scope outward for impact. “Whether you're in the bustling heart of a city or the tranquillity of Mallorca, the rules apply universally: start, dream big, use your unique strengths, find the right partner, and enjoy the process,” he concluded. 

In another riveting Focus Group chat, Afshin Ismaeli, a Norwegian war photographer, shared his experience of being a war photographer. The session, titled "Behind Enemy Lines: The Hazards of War Photography," shed light on the harrowing journeys of photographers like Afshin, who risk everything to bring the realities of conflict zones to the global stage.

Afshin enlightened the audience about the meticulous preparations that go into documenting war – from selecting the right camera gear to navigating treacherous terrain to balancing the imperative of compelling storytelling with personal security.
March 04, 2024 / 7:35 PM

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