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Portrait Lensman Mark Julian Edwards Demonstrates Transformative Power Of Perception At Xposure 2024
(29 February 2024)


British artist and portrait photographer Mark Julian Edwards charmed the audience with his talk, ‘The Lenses of Perception: Seeing the Potential in Others,’ on the opening day of the Xposure International Photography Festival (Xposure 2024), being held at Expo Centre Sharjah until March 5. Edwards, celebrated for his ability to blend coaching and photography, shared his insights into the transformative power of focusing on others’ strengths through the lens of photography.

Highlighting the profound human need to be seen and understood beyond surface-level perceptions, the TedX speaker and writer said that professional photography should aim to fulfil people’s need to be seen by capturing more than just images — it should reveal the essence of its subjects. This, according to the artist, is where the true magic of photography lies.

“By empowering people through their own uniqueness, we unlock an incredibly strong point in photography,” Edwards said. His approach combines his Gallup-certified strengths coaching with his passion for photography to not only capture the external likeness of his subjects but to delve deeper into their personal stories and strengths. His work, which sits at the intersection of photography, psychology and coaching, offers a fresh perspective on how we see ourselves and others.

Edwards illustrated his talk with stories from his own projects, including the ‘Faces of Mallorca’ series, which showcases the diversity and beauty of individuals from the Spanish island.

The storyteller also shared compelling anecdotes from his career, illustrating how focusing on strengths and personal qualities can elevate both the subject and the photograph. Recounting the process of working with a diverse group of individuals, from Polish to Indian and Japanese subjects, each story highlighted the transformative effect of recognising and capturing individuals' unique strengths through photography. These ranged from capturing their fearlessness and courage during a significant transition period in their lives, to a young mother who rediscovered her sense of individuality and identity through his photography. In each case, Edwards’ ability to see and reflect their strength in the photographs had a profound impact on how the subjects viewed themselves.

The photographer’s session also demonstrated the power of photography as a tool for empowerment and self-discovery. Through his lens, Edwards invites us all to see the potential in others and ourselves, proving that the greatest strength of photography may indeed lie in its ability to reveal our true selves. "The greatest need we have is to be seen, and through photography, we have the power to meet that need in the most beautiful and profound ways,” he noted. “By focusing on what makes us unique, we can transform how we see ourselves and how others see us.”

Edwards concluded the session with practical lessons on the art of perception, applicable both in photography and in life, as follows: a) If you can see a strength in others, you’ll be loved b) If you can see a strength in others they didn’t even know they had, you’ll be remembered forever c) Our lens is not fixed d) How others see us is often more powerful than how we see ourselves e) Pick the right environment to shine.

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