Studio Lighting Workshops

I have enrolled in two studio lighting essentials workshops, the first was at the Gulf Photo Plus with instructor and photographer Caleb Arias and the other one is with photographer and trainer Colin Hawkins at the XPOSURE International Photography Festival, both in Sharjah, my city.

In my workshop with photographer Caleb, he taught me about using studio lighting and different color gels, below are some of the photos we practiced doing straight from the camera (the model is the photographer himself):



With photographer and trainer Colin Hawkins, he taught us about what sorts of lights to go for when starting with studio lighting and about LED, Profoto, umbrellas, soft boxes and other cheap options, he also did some shots of a model and showed us his process on how to go about editing them.  He used tethering and that is using the computer to see the shots taken by the camera directly.


Colin Hawkins, a professional commercial photographer


The instructor gave a four hour workshop explaining the studio lighting essentials and after the workshop we all got a certificate of participation:






XPOSURE – 2nd International Photography Festival

(22 – 25 NOVEMBER 2017)

I had the opportunity to attend the International Photography Festival (XPOSURE) for the second time but this time I was able to attend part of the opening ceremony which was very interesting and also attend a 4 hour workshop on studio lighting by photographer Colin Hawkins.

The official opening ceremony started at 10:00 am and Canadian biologist and photographer Paul Nicklen spoke about his journey in Antarctica and how hard it was.  His speech was called “Polar obsession” and he explained how he learnt survival skills which allowed him to work in hospitable world, then photographer Muhammed Muheisen (a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning photographer and the Chief Photographer for the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan for the Associated Press) gave a speech about Anja Niedringhaus a German photojournalist who worked for the Associated Press.  She passed away on April 4, 2014.

Unfortunately, I was unable to stay long because I had to attend my workshop at 11:00.  However, I had the chance to look at the exhibited work.

One of the most fascinating work was of Multimedia artist Graham Fink who uses his eyes to create line contour images.  Graham uses an eye tracking software to transform his gaze into a medium.


I also had the chance to see Zena Holloway, a diving instructor who is also a photographer carrying out her underwater photography at the exhibition as there was a big glass tank filled with water and Holloway was photographing an underwater fashion project.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t upload the videos I took of her in the tank because I have to upgrade WordPress to do so, therefore I am adding an online link instead that shows Zena and the big tank behind her.


©Sharjah24 News

I am also uploading captures from my video instead to emphasize that I was there.


Here are some photos taken of some of the photographs exhibited at the festival.

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Out of all the photographs I enjoyed the ones taken by photographer Abdel Rahman Gaber as it was very much related to the course I am taking and his portraits had stories behind them which I will mention here.


The Boy with the Big Heart by ©Abdel Rahman Gabr

The caption on the on the photograph says:  “Abdelrahman has a heart condition, which slowed down his growth, but being as lively as he is, it will never stop him from getting out in the field and feeding his beloved animals”.

photo 11-22-17, 3 43 58 pm

Nubian Artisans by ©Abdel Rahman Gabr

“She has taken on a role of helping around the house and starting her own mini-boutique of handmade Nubian Jewellery, and when she earns some money, she buys her mom grapes, which are her favourite fruit”.

Some other famous photographers that participated in the exhibition are:  Alan Ranger, Clive Arrowsmith, Bob Martin, Jodi Cobb, Kathy Moran, Lorenzo Agius,  and Timothy Allen.

For more information about the festival; please go to


Bibliography / References:

Xposure. International Photography Festival [online]. Xposure. Available from:   [Accessed 25 November, 2017].



XPOSURE – International Photography Festival

(12 – 15 October 2016)

Xposure is an annual International Photography Festival that features professional photographers, photography workshops, seminars, trade shows, presentations, competitions and exhibitions.  The Festival is new as it was only launched this year and it took place at Expo Centre in Sharjah at the United Arab Emirates.

Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to attend the workshops and presentations but I was able to check the exhibition displayed indoors.  The exhibitions span across different genres of photography capturing people, places and other inspirations.

I had the chance to attend the exhibition on Thursday 13 October 2016 and was able to take some pictures and short videos with my phone.


Click on the links below to watch the short videos:

I very much enjoyed the portrait photographs that were exhibited and they gave me fresh ideas on using background as a context and how it is sometimes okay to crop the parts I used to find important to leave such as cropping the head and keeping the legs for example.  All depends on what story we are trying to convey.  Below are (some) of the photographs that I personally loved taken from my phone at the exhibition (I apologise for the poor resolution and clarity of the photographs as I couldn’t avoid the spotlights reflection on the glass frames):

(Click on the images for more information)

The first two photographs from the left are by photographer David Alan Harvey and it is from his series “Tell it like it is offers”.  The photographs are glimpses into the life of a family living in a Norfolk slum.  David left the message for the viewers to interpret.  He seems to concentrate more on emotions and how the viewer interprets it.  His photographs especially the first one of the little boy lying in bed is so memorable because it touches the heart.  There is so much to see and interpret in this photograph.  My eyes kept wandering into the details of the photograph, from the curtain tied on to the bed to the child on the bed with his eyes open to the clothes hanged on the door and the cracks on the wall!   The photograph was grainy in black and white and that gave it a nice texture and reminiscent.  His other portrait of the girl standing on a wooden house looking straight at the camera with her eyes and expressions telling a lot about how she feels.  You can read her sadness from the eyes.  The photo tells us a lot about where this girl lives, how she dresses and the financial situation of her family in general.  The photographer used the background as a context to give more information about this girl.  I liked how the wooden walls lead the eye to the girl and back.

The next four photographs by photographer Tom Stoddart are also emotional.  I liked how Stoddart photographed the old woman with the cracked wall behind her.  It reminded me of the exercise on how to use a background as a context to tell more about the subject photographed.  I feel the wrinkles in the woman’s face and the cracks on the wall behind her tell the story about this woman’s life and how hard it was.  It reveals her personality and even the hard life she lived.  How strong she is to face the hard life and how the wall stood there with all those cracks (tough and strong).  Yet her deep eyes give you this warm feeling of perhaps a wonderful mother or grandmother.

In his three other photographs; the gaze of his subjects play a great rule in those images.  There is an empty space beyond the frame that allows us to share the subject’s gaze.  The mother with her child looking at something while we can see the thin legs of a starving person.  Her eyes cry mercy and the thin legs define starvation and the state those poor people are in.  The starving boy looking at the man who is carrying a bag of food punches in the heart.  You can’t help but compare what clothes the man is wearing and how the boy is half-naked, how the man is healthy and walking while the boy is weak and crawling!

The last portrait by photographer Muhammad Muheisen is of a Syrian girl called Zahra, she is 5 and is trapped in an informal tented settlement near the Syrian border on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan.  The portrait is so powerful and her gaze is so heartbreaking and moving.  The photographer said that she told him she never went to school!

The exhibition was so eye-opening and enlightening.  I wish I had the time to benefit from what the Festival had to offer but maybe next year.

“Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.” – David Alan Harvey

Bibliography / References:

Xposure. International Photography Festival [online]. Xposure. Available from: [Accessed 15 October, 2016].