The Image Festival Association - Zakira-Pictures Speak Louder than Words


The concept of the Image Festival Association- Zakira, was masterminded by photographer Ramzi Haidar, who, having had a first-hand experience with the sufferings of Iraqi children while serving as a photojournalist in Baghdad during the war, believed that photography can be a powerful means to help them vent out their frustrations, emotions and aspirations in a visual manner. However, the escalation of violence in Baghdad thwarted the materialization of the project he had in mind. Upon his return to Lebanon, and heedful of the need to make the voice of the marginalized communities heard, Haidar realized that the Palestinian refugee camps feature a perfect medium for the implementation of his project, which was named “Lahza”, Arabic for “moment”, and spearheaded the emergence of the Image Festival Association- Zakira, as a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization keen on spreading the culture of imagery and photography, through the organization of exhibitions, contests, workshops and ongoing projects and civil awareness campaigns.


Photographers, artists, journalists and other members from diverse walks of life joined hands and efforts to ensure the success of the Lahza project, which was launched in 2007 and covered 12 refugee camps in Lebanon. Over the course of 18 months, the Zakira members and volunteers embarked on teaching 500 children of Palestinian camps between the ages of 5 to 12 the basics of photography, explaining to them each step of the photographic process, while giving them full liberty to give uninhibited reign to their own creative impulses, pick their most-desired subjects and capture the photos that best stimulate their senses. The photos taken by those children portrayed the life inside the refugee camps from all its angles and depicted both their tragic and joyful day-to-day experiences and observations in their most raw and uncoded form. The spontaneity and authenticity featured in the photos helped us take a glimpse into the appalling living conditions in the camps, a reality often concealed and manipulated by all media outlets. The works of the young Palestinian artists were displayed in international exhibitions and were acclaimed nationwide and beyond. Today, the children remain in contact with Zakira through the General Union of Palestinian Women, with whom they worked in the camps.

After Lahza

The After Lahza was a sequel to the first project, Lahza. The Zakira association aimed, through its 2009 follow-up project, to foster communication between Lebanese and Palestinian teenagers by organizing photography workshops of three-months each. The workshops were held in Beirut, Baalbeck, Sidon, Tripoli and Tyre and provided an opportunity for over 250 participants to build relationships with one another, explore the realm of photography and receive advanced photography training. Some of the participants took up photography as a hobby, while others pursued it as a professional activity. One girl got published several times in a national newspaper and others work in photo studios near their camps.


In line with its vision to encourage a photographic culture and expose people to artistic means of expression, the Image Festival Association- Zakira launched in 2010 its Ru’aa, Arabic for “visions”, project, which held training sessions in photography to 80 young adults from various refugee communities living in Lebanon. The six-month project offered the participants living on the outskirts of Beirut and Sidon and holding 18 different nationalities a chance to explore the similarities and differences of their diverse cultures and to share the everyday struggles they encounter in the same country, while, simultaneously, developing their theoretical and practical photography skills.

Dar Al Mussawir

Dar Al Mussawir was established in 2010 as an unparalleled art-oriented gallery in Lebanon and the region. Dar Al Mussawir complements the work and achievements of the Image Festival Association, Zakira, as it gathers amateur and professional photographers in a vibrant and lively space in order to develop community projects and enhance the understanding of imagery and photography as an effective tool in shaping and transforming our perceptions of life. 

Leave A Comment