Earlier this month my photograph “A boy from the crowd” photographed in Liberia, was exhibited at the Xposure International Photography Festival in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
Xposure is a leading photo festival and an official imagery and educational platform that combines a range of photography events including exhibitions, workshops, seminars, screenings, focus groups, competitions, photo walks, and hosts a dedicated photographic and video production trade show. According to Xposure, the photography on show is “selected from highly acclaimed International Photographers, professional institutes and galleries representing Photographers from around the world.” The event and exhibition were attended by H.E. Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi.
My good friend and Founder of the Siena International Photography Awards, Luca Venturi, photographed my picture, which was part of the SIPA Awards selection exhibition.
The British Red Cross has supported people in crisis for over 150 years. I have been supporting them with my photography for over sixteen years. I have photographed everything from disaster relief to Royal events. They are, and always will be, the organisation that I most enjoy working with.
The work that I have witnessed has been amazing and the people that I have worked are incredible. The British Red Cross is always on standby to help with UK emergencies and the coronavirus is no exception.
Over 70,000 people have signed up as community reserve volunteers for the British Red Cross, with more joining the Movement every day.
You could be doing anything from helping at your local food bank to playing a vital role in easing the pressure on the NHS by delivering essential goods and supplies.
There are many ways of supporting the British Red Cross.
The SIPA Contest is so much more than just photography awards. It is a festival of events for creatives to network and connect. When Luca Venturi (creator and artistic director) first imagined the festival, he set his target on making Siena the heart of the photography world that would bring photographers together from around the world.
“We are happy to have created a large family, a community with photography at its centre, as a form of international language that connects people of every culture and social background. A dream come true, supported by partners and institutions that together with us continue to invest in the power of imagination and the power that images have to be able to tell stories full of meaning " – Luca Venturi
In addition to the Awards ceremony there are a number of events over the course of the weekend for the photographers to participate in – most of them involve a glass of wine or two! I was asked to speak at the SIPA conference along with six other distinguished photographers who I now count as friends. The conference was held in the University of Siena with an audience of 200. I spoke alongside fellow speakers –
Mary Calvert (USA)- Documentary Photographer - maryfcalvert.com
Philip Coburn (UK) – Editorial Photographer - Philip Coburn LinkedIn
Florian Ledoux (France) – Nature and Wildlife Photographer - www.florian-ledoux.com
Alessio Paduano (ITA) – Editorial Photographer - www.alessiopaduano.it
Hannes Lochner (ZA) – Wildlife Photographer - www.hanneslochner.com
Constanza Portnoy (AR ) – Documentary Photographer - www.constanza-portnoy.com
The conference had an overall title of “The Storytelling Power of Photography” and the talks included human impact in the environment, new ways of approaching journalism, social justice in photography, the coverage of migration issues, modern ways of storytelling, ethical storytelling and more.
The exhibition was officially opened by me at the Ex Distillery Lo Stellino along with the launch of this years “Beyond the Lens” book featuring all the winning photographs. The exhibitions are one of the Festival’s main events, hosted by the most important locations of Siena. The exhibitions will run until Sunday 1 December.
My photograph titled “A boy from the crowd” of a Liberian child trying to retrieve his ball is the overall winner of the fifth Siena International Photography Awards, the photography contest that has the widest international participation
Jurors selected the winning image from photographers from 161 countries.
I received my award at an incredible ceremony on Saturday 26th October, in the historic Teatro dei Rinnovati theatre in Siena, Italy. The event was attended by over 300 photographers plus distinguished guests from all over the world, once again consecrating SIPA as one of the most important photographic awards in the world.
The picture was photographed for the peacebuilding organisation, International Alert who works with people directly affected by conflict to build lasting peace. I had been asked to document their work in Liberia where they supported various programmes to build stability.
One of the projects that I covered was the annual Cultural Festival which sees people from difference cultural, linguistic and ethnic groups coming together to celebrate peace in a country that was torn apart by 14 years of brutal conflict.
In this three-day festival, on the outskirts of Monrovia, the crowd was tens of thousands of people. I was interested in photographing the people attending and the West African peacekeeping troops who were keeping order, as well as the performances themselves.
With any subject, I observe what is happening whilst trying to determine how I can best show what is front of me. I have revisited the digital series of photographs to see how I came to this particular photograph. I am normally so immersed in seeing how to frame the picture and capture the moment that I am unaware of everything else.
I started by photographing the soldiers, but then changed to what was more interesting in the crowd. I had been circling this soldier, when I sensed something occurring behind. Suddenly out of the crowd leaned this boy reaching for his precious ball. This was a child who had grown up in war and had good reason to be scared of soldiers and their guns. He wanted to get his ball back, but his eyes were fixed on the soldier. This all happened in the blink of an eye and resulted in this picture, which seems to represent the precariousness of peace, as seen through the eyes of a young child with little understanding of the greater dynamics at play. All he knew was, he wanted his ball back, but also to stay safe.
“In just a few years the Siena International Photo Awards has become one of the most important photographic competitions in the world - explains Luca Venturi, creator and artistic director of the Festival - A success not only linked to the enthusiasm, dedication and passion of the participants , but also to the fact of wanting to keep in the heart of the "Siena Awards" what was the initial dream. From the beginning we had the courage to imagine that Siena could and should become the capital of photography. and by virtue of this 'crazy idea' we have chosen to organize a festival capable of bringing together photographers from all over the world. We are happy to have created a large family, a community with photography at its centre, as a form of international language that connects people of every culture and social background. A dream come true, supported by partners and institutions that together with us continue to invest in the power of imagination and the power that images have to be able to tell stories full of meaning ".
In addition to the shots of the Sipa, until Sunday December 1 the city of the Palio hosts exhibitions and exhibition events with the protagonists of the images and extraordinary reportages made by the most important international photographers. A unique body of images that will make Siena the world capital of photography.
- Exhibition info: Siena International Photo Awards 2019
- When: 28 October - 1 December 2019.
- Where: Siena , various locations .