My first Harper’s shoot from my recent trip to Dubai
Last month I was in Dubai where I shot for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia again. In two weeks I shot 4 editorials and an additional “What Bazaar is Wearing” feature as well. Working with fashion editor Sally Matthews is always a treat because she’s not only a very cool girl, she’s got a great eye for fashion and we have very similar tastes. My first shoot with Sally was a “Gothic Abaya” editorial. An abaya, which literally means “cloak”, is a loose over-garment, like a robe that is worn by some women in the Islamic world. I think it’s a common misconception here in the West to think that the traditional clothing worn by the Muslim women are simple, rather plain or ordinary looking. Well, that’s just not the case and we set about in this shoot to convey the message that some of the traditional clothing worn by women in Saudi Arabia is quite beautiful and often times, very glamourous.
Sally has the great ability to find exotic locations that haven’t been shot in before in Dubai. And so we found ourselves in a resort located about 30 minutes outside of Dubai. The area was more dense in greenery than most Dubai hot spots, which is what Sally wanted because she was looking to do a very Goth-like, forest story with the Abayas. I had the good fortune to work with the talented Kate Goodwin, who had just flown in from London the night before to do the hair and make up. And our model was the gorgeous Masha who was an absolute delight to work with. Tall, thin, gorgeous and man, she could move! We had a grip of equipment with us but ended up using reflectors for most of the day. Dubai is pretty bright, even in a dense garden or tree-lined area. I mean, after all, it is in a desert! So additional flash in the outdoors would have taken the story in a totally different direction. I made the decision to use the natural light and add reflectors when needed to bounce in some even fill. Dubai not only is pretty bright, in September it was very hot. Temperatures were up in the 100 degrees Farenheit!! We had to take mini breaks in between shots because it was too hot to move on quickly to the next shot. But even given these small obstacles, we were able to pull off the 8 page spread with absolute no problems. That’s pretty much due to working with a professional team that pulls together to make the best possible shoot against any and all odds! And that’s why I love working with Sally and make up artist Kate. They jump in and help out and there’s no ego or drama. So important when you’ve got elements against you (sun, rain, heat, mosquitos, etc.) and time restraints (8 pages in 5 hours or you go in to paying overtime).
I had every lens in the kit on this shoot, but ending up using the 85mm and the 50mm throughout the day. We changed lenses in the air-conditioned house and guess what obstacle we had to deal with when going outside where the temperature was 100 F? Yep, the lenses fogged up. So any filters had to be taken off quickly, the lenses had to be wiped off carefully, filters had to be put back on and then the shots needed to be shot quickly because the model was going to faint, running in that heat! Although Masha didn’t complain once! In fact, she was ready and willing to go longer with each shot because she loves doing what she does and she is indeed a real trouper!
Shooting on location has it’s obstacles. Shooting on location in Dubai definitely wasn’t easy but the moral of the story is when you have a great team that works together instead of against each other, you end up with a great shoot and a feeling of accomplishment. As we rode home in the early evening light, exhausted from the sun and rush to get all shots done and done well, we all had a smile on our faces because we knew we had accomplished it! And that to me is a great feeling and something I sort of “live for” as a photographer.
I have more editorials to blog about and those will be coming up shortly here on the blog. I also want to give you all a heads up. In response to a ton of emails and requests, I will be doing workshops again next year in 2012. I will have 4 next year. A Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall Fashion Photography 2 Day Workshop. I’m working out the details now and will post it along with a link to order the tickets coming up very soon. The first one will most likely be in January and it will be held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. So look out for that if you’re one of the people who is interested in attending. Happy Shooting!!