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Stuart Fawcett At HIPA's Exhibition - Stuart Fawcett went along to HIPA's exhibition and Reza talk for ePHOTOzine.
Words by Stuart Fawcett.
The Hamdan International Photography Award is well known as the photography competition with the biggest prize pool and it’s just finishing off its exhibition at the Royal Geographic Society, London.
Wednesday night at the society also featured a HIPA sponsored talk by Reza Deghati. Reza is a photojournalist who uses his skill and fame to undertake humanitarian projects through photographic opportunities.
The HIPA exhibition is sponsored by the keen photographer His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the crown prince of Dubai. The competition certainly draws some excellent photographers from all over the world. The categories this year were 'Beauty of light', 'Black and white', 'Emirates' and 'General'. An example of the 'Beauty of light' section is shown with shortlist finalists from the UK, China, Germany and the UAE.
Unsurprisingly the photographs are amazing and depict a wide range of global subjects. Take a look on the HIPA website to see the images in full. However, this was not the highlight of the evening in my opinion; noting that the theme for the 2013/14 season is 'Creating the future' the feature lecture by Reza Deghati seemed very apt.
Reza calls himself a photographer for humanity and looks to present the human situation in the midst of conflict and disaster. Frequently featuring on the cover of national geographic, authoring 27 books, 10 documentaries and a recipient of multiple awards, he is a very well known photographer who believes that photography can become a language for all.
He has worked extensively in Afghanistan for years and helped establish there a magazine and a radio station for Afghanistan women training a thousand as reporters within the country. He has also launched a magazine for the children there to promote education for boys and girls called 'to fly/soar' . He's also been instrumental in health education programmes there reducing the infant mortality rate by up to 40% in some areas through mobile cinema shows that tour the rural areas. An interesting use of the video mode on your camera!
Other photographic work in famine stuck Africa sees him training up local photographers in refugee camps to photograph 10,000 children split from their parents by war. Photo exhibitions in each of the camps then help reunite 3500 children with their families.
Image by Stuart Fawcett.
To record pictures of starving children he starved himself for 3 days beforehand to ensure he could understand the feeling of hunger before trying to capture them. He would often stay with local people before photographing them.
He is frequently seen in his work to be giving children cameras and empowering the people to capture the scene from their own perspective. Interesting for me is the fact that often small cameras are more powerful in unobtrusively capturing events, and Olympus cameras were often shown in Reza's pictures of those learning and reporting.
To support using photography as a power for social change through children he launched the Children's Eyes On Earth Contest in 2012.
Reza believes that visual art is the solution to a better world. Take a look at his website to find out more.
It certainly made me think a bit more about photography in a wider context – maybe this is the big prize in photography.