An extensive crowd of photographers, spectators, and dealers gathered at Alserkal Avenue between February 4 and February 9, in anticipation for the annual celebration of GPP Photo Week, the longest-running multinational photography festival in the Middle East.
Organized by Gulf Photo Plus (GPP), Dubai’s leading center for photography, in partnership with Alserkal Avenue, The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) and Fujifilm, the 2019 edition of GPP Photo Week marked its 15-year anniversary.
Infused with a selection of exhibitions, panel discussions, workshops, spotlight talks, and other highlighted activities such as the slide fest, PhotoFriday, and the shoot out, this years event attracted several thousands of individuals from around the globe.
Under the theme ‘Get Closer’, the festival generated a more engaging platform for local and regional photographers by inviting individuals to not only get closer to the world they connect with, but also to their subjects, and their storytelling abilities.
The main attraction of the event was a curated group exhibition Entitled “The Shortest Distance Between Us: Stories from the Arab Documentary Photography Program,” that showcases the work of seven photographers who were awarded grants and commissions by ADPP.
Reinforcing the fact that there is a generation of talented photographers from around the region who are producing incredible work, this exhibition was a reminder to those living amongst the privileged and are disconnected from the realities of the region, says Mohamed Somji, co-director of GPP.
Another activity that stood out was the Slidefest. An inspiring and interactive conference that aims to foster visual storytelling, the Slidefest invited five photographers from the region; all recipients from the ADPP to talk about their work and engage the audience by answering their questions and listening to their feedback.
Amongst a diverse selection of workshops, which covered a broad scope of various photography genres, Nick Fancher and Paolo Verzone gave the commercial, fashion, and editorial seminars, while Tanya Habjouqa, and Sara Lando focused on documentary and storytelling. Taught by regional and international photographers, the workshops targeted not only photographers but also those interested in video.
An additional successful event where audiences were given the opportunity to indulge in a day filled with stimulating talks and panels was Fujifilm’s PhotoFriday, which consisted of back to back sessions where many photographers discussed their work, and the different techniques they use to produce their images. To name a few, Tasneem AlSultan explored wedding photography, and Asim Rafiqui talked about photojournalism and war photography.
The most awaited and final event of GPP Photo Week was the famous ShootOut, an intense and nerve-wracking challenge where three professional photographers Sara Lando, Caleb Arias, and Mike Kelly competed against one another under the pressure of a live audience, tackling an unknown topic with limited materials. Each photographer was given only 20 minutes to come up with the concept, create the imagery, and release it to the viewers who chose the winner.
A pivotal week-long event, GPP Photo Week is a great platform that brings people from all over the Middle East and beyond. ‘Offering a platform for photographers to express themselves through their work, with opportunities to network and interconnect is key’ says Somji, who hopes to devise a support system that is long lasting.