Permalink to Omani photographers are gaining world recognition — FIAP president
By Mai Al Abria — The President of the International Federation of Photographic Art (FIAP), Riccardo Busi, in an exclusive interview with Oman Observer confirmed that in a period of less than 7 years, Oman has become well-known in the world, thanks to its photographer-ambassadors and the Omani Society for Photography who introduced the features of the Sultanate through their lenses. “Before 10 years, no single Omani photographer was there in the world scene,” Busi said. “However, in a short period of time, Omani photographers obtain two world cups in the youth biennial last year in Korea, for the categories under 16 and under 21.”
Speaking about the exceptional abilities of the Omani photographers in reflecting the Omani nature and culture, Busi said, “It is so easy to pinpoint Omani pictures among the others especially the landscapes and the portraits. In the past, Scotland was known for its landscapes. Now, it’s Oman”.
The International Federation of Photographic Art (FIAP), is an international organisation of national associations of photography. Starting with only 16 countries, more than 90 countries are now members, comprising nearly one million and a half individual photographers (amateur and professional). The board of directors consists of 9 members (presidents, two vice presidents, secretary, treasurer and four members) who are all volunteers.
“In the history of the organisation, there were six presidents and I am the seventh. The term of election is four years, renewable. I was elected for the first time in 2012 in Singapore and reelected again in 2016 in Korea,” Busi shared.
On the joint collaboration between Oman and the federation, Busi commented “We are starting different projects and solutions in order to export this photographic culture all around the world not only through competitions but also through exhibitions. There is an idea to organise an exhibition in Oman and Italy in the same day, and at the same moment to represent the Omani and Italian cultures through the eyes of their photographers. This is the first step and will be started in Italy but later expanded to other countries.”
Although no Omani or Gulf citizen are in the board of FIAP directors, some Omanis like Dr Ibrahim al Busaidi are holding prestigious positions in the organisation. Al Busaidi is the Director of Relations for International Organizations and is charge of developing some agreements with international organizations.
“FIAP is not a for-profit organization and it is founded in friendship with all countries. Therefore, we ensure that there’s no political or racism issues present. In FIAP Biennale, we gather photographers from all over the world to spend one week together in harmony and love. We insist that all wear their traditional outfit to encourage that each member accepts others and coexist with them,” Busi said.
FIAP organizes more than 500 events a year all around the world. It also participates on events held by organisations under the FIAP auspices.
“We organise the World Cup for the operational members in the black and white, color print biennial, youth biennial, nature biennial, Monochrome Print Biennial, and Projected Images Biennial,” Busi said.
“I decided to create the exhibition centres in 2012 because the previous headquarter in Paris was visited by quite a few number of people. Having an exhibition center in each member country helps members to organise activities and it allows more visitors to view the works of photographers,” he said.
The exhibition centre in Muscat was the fourth one to be established and another one in Dubai is currently under construction.
Granting Dr Abdulmonem al Hasani, Minister of Information, the FIAP honorary friendship last week, he has emphasised his continuous support to the events, exhibition centre and contests of FIAP inside the country.
Some panels in photography contests don’t accept photos captured by mobile phones, but for Busi it is the final outcome that he is looking for.
“Last March in 2016, we judged a contest in Kuwait and at the end of the contest, we checked the raw file of the pictures to ensure the originality of the photos. We discovered that the third place in the general category was won by an incredible picture shot by iPhone 5s and one of the judges was trying to push us to give the photo the first place. I think, in the future, mobile cameras are going to help us a lot. But I think for the wildlife and sports photos, they will not serve the same purpose as the professional cameras.”
There are many FIAP distinctions based on the results obtained in the different international competitions. Master FIAP is the top distinction based on the photographers’ portfolio which must contain 20 photos. FIAP is also the only photography organization recognized by UNESCO.
FIAP also organises two important events: the FIAP Biennale (Congress) is held every two years and the photo meeting is held annually. The photo meeting is organised by local photographers for their counterparts in different parts of the world. The next photo meeting will be held in China and lots of Omani photographers will be participating.