At first glance I see a pair of siren red lips, eyes blindfolded with black lace and an accusatory audio cassette, regurgitating snakes of tape. This is Rouda Al Shamsi’s “Short Life”, a striking mostly monochromatic photograph. According to the artist, on a deeper level, the work explores the fleeting nature of our lives, the metaphor being the cassette, which contains a spool of tape that ends as soon as it starts playing.

“Short Life” is one photograph in a vibrant gallery of works on Gulfography.com. The website is a bold champion of women who have dared to frame life in the Gulf Region and the social norms within it through a truly provocative lens. Not only is it a hub for self-expression but also a caterer of food for thought.

It started when an exhibition in the UAE called “Privately” was held for a group of young women who were only starting out in the craft of photography and had relatively little experience.

Contrary to what one may think, these women turned out to be quite savvy at using the camera to vocalize controversial issues that, frankly, needed to be addressed here in the Gulf Region. “They just needed a space to showcase this talent outside of Flickr sites and their personal Facebook pages, where many emerging photographers start and stop,” says Shammi Samano, co-founder of Gulfography and former college media professor. As the need for a cultural podium became obvious, the idea for Gulfography began to formulate.