The Fantastic Life of a Photographer in Dubai


If you’re a photographer with an adventurous spirit and an eye for striking visuals, there’s no better place to call home than the dazzling city of Dubai. I had the opportunity to spend a few weeks embedded with a group of local photographers, and let me tell you, their lives are a whirlwind of creativity, hustle, and pinch-me moments.

At the center of this motley crew is Khalid, a former architect who traded in his drafting tools for a camera about six years ago. Compact and wiry with a perpetual mischievous grin, Khalid has an uncanny knack for putting his subjects at ease. “The best photos happen when people forget I’m there,” he told me as we strolled through the winding alleys of the old Bastakiya quarter. “That’s when you capture the unguarded, authentic moments.”

Khalid clearly loves his craft, but he also deeply admires his hometown’s rapacious growth and ambition. “Dubai is a photographer’s paradise – it’s always stretching the boundaries of what’s possible,” he mused. “One day there’s an empty patch of sand, the next there’s a brand new architectural marvel just begging to be photographed from every angle.”

Among Khalid’s regular gigs are headshot sessions for corporate bigwigs and real estate shoots that require him to climb to dizzying heights to capture Dubai’s vertigo-inducing skyline. But his true passion is documenting theabi-rob ceremonies for Emirati families – vibrant affairs full of traditional dances, colorful clothing, and delicious feasting. “You have to be part photojournalist, part anthropologist for these events,” Khalid told me as we edited some shots from a recent wedding celebration. “Every small detail and cultural tradition has meaning and importance.”

Then there’s Leila, a former photojournalist who moved to Dubai for a new adventure after over a decade covering conflict zones across the Middle East. While she swapped scenes of military operations for glamorous hotel shoots and high-profile magazine assignments, she still brings that same committed professionalism to every gig.

“Dubai is all about luxury and opulence, so as photographers we have to match that energy and aesthetic,” Leila explained as we hopped in a golf cart to zip between sets during a fashion shoot at a palatial resort. She skilfully adjusted lighting, tweaked her models’ poses, and ensured every seam and accent glistened under the intense desert sun.

While the pay for such high-profile shoots is lucrative, Leila also makes sure to balance it with more community-focused projects that spotlight Dubai’s multiculturalism. “This is one of the most diverse places on earth,” she told me as we wandered a colourful neighbourhood street awash in the tantalizing aromas of Syrian, Afghan, and Iranian eateries. “The stories of people who move here from around the world to pursue new opportunities – those are the ones I want to highlight through my portraits and photo essays.”

No day is ever the same for Khalid, Leila, and their photographer pals, and that’s one of the biggest draws of their chosen career. One week they could be climbing into a helicopter to get sky-high aerials of Dubai’s iconic Palm Islands, the next they’re capturing haute couture at Fashion Week, and the next they’re getting gritty at arickshaw driver’s evening rodeo meetup under the shadows of megascrapers.

“Versatility is crucial – every shoot requires a different creative approach and technical skillset,” Khalid explained over kateer and karak at one of their favourite late-night haunts. “That’s what I love about this crazy life. It’s always unpredictable, always demanding more from you as an artist.”

For all the luxuries Dubai affords, at the end of the day, these photographers are artists. And like all artists worth their salt, they’re driven by an endless curiosity about the human experience and a restless desire to capture and immortalize its most wondrous moments – be they grand and grandiose or small and subtly profound. All you need is an adventurous spirit, an eye for beauty, and a willingness to embrace the unexpected twists and turns of life as a photographer in one of the world’s most dazzling cities.

Purity Muriuki
I'm a passionate full-time blogger. I love writing about startups, technology, health, lifestyle, fitness, electronics, social media marketing, and much more. Continue reading my articles for more insight.


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