x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Photography festival aims to widen appeal

The third Al Dhafra Festival Photographer's Eye competition, which runs in conjunction with the main festival, starts on Friday and will last until December 26.

Camels, the theme of the festival, are also a key subject for Photographer's Eye competitors. Galen Clarke / The National
Camels, the theme of the festival, are also a key subject for Photographer's Eye competitors. Galen Clarke / The National

The third Al Dhafra Festival Photographer's Eye competition, which runs in conjunction with the main festival, kicks off tomorrow and will last until December 26.

The competition is open to anyone and everyone, and there are no age restrictions. Organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, Photographer's Eye aims to encourage a love of photography.

"We want photographers to, basically, take more photographs," says Bader al Nomani, who is in charge of the competition. "We also want the photographers to deal with their related subjects, to embrace the culture [of the Middle East], and the heritage. The competition is also a great way to have a record of the entire festival."

The rules are simple enough. Each photographer can submit up to five photos taken at the festival in colour or black and white. Given the theme of the event, which is to celebrate the important roles camels play in the Bedouin community, participants are encouraged to take photos that showcase the relationship between the animal and man, as well as capture the spirit of the entire festival.

The top four winners will earn Dh10,000 to Dhs20,000, and the cash prizes are certain to attract participants.

But how to take a winning shot? Hamdah al Reesy, who was awarded second place at last year's event, thinks that the most important thing to focus on is the story behind the photograph.

A photograph, she says, should have something to say to the viewer. Timing, she adds, is also of the essence. Her photograph, Side Of Light, shows three members of a Bedouin family (a man and two women) sitting around a small fire. It was taken at 5pm and the light seen from the entrance to the tent helped create a slightly ethereal atmosphere.

Last year's winning photograph, Small Camel by Eissa al Tenaiji, is a side profile of a camel against a blurred background. Appearing to be smiling, ever so slightly, the simple photo speaks volumes.

The judges for this year's competition have yet to be announced. Al Nomani says they will mainly be professional photographers with a wide range of expertise.

Time, we think, to invest in that snazzy camera we've always had our eye on.

* Zaineb al Hassani