New to Dubai and could do with a run-down of photogenic spots? Planning a family shoot and would like to get a little location inspiration?
With the cooler weather just around the corner I am excited to bring you a run down of possible locations for your next family photo shoot.
More importantly, I'm pleased to share that I offering a NEW shoot location this season - I would absolutely love you to read on and find out more!
Al Fahidi historical district
The light in Al Fahidi is always divine; bouncing off the cream walls and acting as a natural reflector. It is the perfect place to encourage children and their family to explore, with lots of narrow alleyways, doors to knock on and courtyards to enter. The mosque is a beautiful backdrop with stunning architecture and patterns and the whole area is peppered with Arabian architectural influences and textures. There are lots of spots to discover and many corners for children to discover. And if you manage to find any staircases leading up to the top of the shop houses: the view from the top is beautiful!
Parking can be a bit tricky so I would advise parking underground at Al Seef and walking across. If the weather is cool it’s the perfect spot for a shoot at any time of the day because you can easily find shadier areas.
When I have shoots in this area we normally end our session we head to the XVA Gallery and Café for their amazing mint lemonade and to take a look around their gallery.
Perhaps one of the most obvious - but certainly one of the most requested locations for family shoots is the beach! With the weather just on the verge of cooling down; NOW is the time to be booking in beach shoots.
Make a plan with your photographer to head down to the beach during golden hour (so called because of the beautiful morning and late afternoon sunlight). This is when the light is at the most flattering as it will wrap around you perfectly.
Although it varies throughout the year, in my experience any time from 4.45pm onwards is just stunning. Take picnic dinner for your children, pack a towel, some spare clothes, a blanket to sit on and you are all set.
I love Black Palace beach because of the natural curve in the bay: so that if you head down to the left hand side of the beach you can position yourself with the Burj Al Arab in the background and your photographer can cleverly cut out all of the beachgoers on the right hand side of your image.
Along the far left of the beach there are rocks and a pier and to the far right there is a patch of grassy reeds that are super photogenic and again give a bit of variety in backdrop. At certain times of the month the tide retreats leaving a beautiful mirror effect where the shoreline meets the sand.
Another wonderful beach is Nessnass beach; often when I am shooting there I will begin with family portraits close to the reed fence (towards the left of the beach) and then move my families along the shoreline all the way around to the rocks on the right side of the bay. Parking can be tricky here so again, it will be helpful to plan in advance.
NEW Location! - Bur Dubai!
One of the new locations I am focusing on this season is Bur Dubai! A little more of an adventurous spot, this location is perfect for families looking for a shoot that is a little bit different in style.
If you've done shoots at the beach, desert, home, Al Qudra....this might be right up your street. We meet at the creek - we get to know each other in 'top secret' spot where our photo session begins. Our photoshoot walk takes us through the souk - think colours, interesting light, unusual backgrounds, more of the 'real' Dubai - perhaps making a few purchases along the way. We end on an abra just in time for sunset.
After running Bur Dubai photowalks for the last few years I am so excited to be offering family shoots around this area! Obviously this is going to be a little more walking but it's all flat (babes in buggies are definitely welcome) and we will stop off at different spots en route where I will centre you all together as a family. So you will get a wonderful mix of documentary and slightly more posed images.
As this session is completely NEW I would love to offer a 25% discount off the booking price just for you, when you book this location. You can get in touch with me here to find out more.
Desert time is just around the corner!
My favourite spot has to be out near to Al Qudra lakes where there are plenty of wonderful, photogenic desert spots. There is no need for off-roading unless you and your photographer are feeling particularly adventurous.
The best time of the day is similar to the beach; any time from 4.45pm onwards unless you're feeling particularly bright and breezy and fancy heading out there for sunrise.
The desert is a beautiful spot to capture those big, wide landscape shots. Given a vast, empty space, children will most likely run when you all arrive at your shoot. Your photographer might want to start off with everyone together for some more classic portraits, so keep this in mind.
Desert shoots are great….but just not on windy days. Families plus a sandy breeze equals a slight disaster! There is nothing worse than everyone turning up, ready for their shoot and sand whipping up into their eyes and throat. Chat to your photographer about what has worked for them in the past when it comes to shooting in the desert and the wind.
My absolute favourite place to shoot families is in their homes - where their children are most comfortable, relaxed, normal - where their day to day life happens and where memories are made.
As a photographer it is so refreshing to walk into a new space that you have never seen before. It’s an on-the-spot challenge to use different light, backgrounds, places and spaces within clients' homes and to capture the family all together.
With home shoots, I normally either start outside or finish outside; depending on the time of the shoot. For example for a morning shoot, we begin in the garden (or nearby park for apartment dwellers) and then head inside; for late afternoon shoots we start inside at around 3pm and then move outside as the sun drops lower in the sky.
During my home shoots I focus on the energy levels of the children that I am photographing; at first they are likely to be full of energy, typically eager to show me around their home and I love to use this to my advantage and make sure I am capturing the family all together at the beginning.
A little later into the shoot, the children’s energy or interest in being photographed may wane so that’s when I would help bring the energy down by suggesting some focussed activities such as reading, painting, playing a game, colouring, making pancakes etc. For me, its most important to photograph families and children together and honestly connecting with each other.
Considering we live in such an urban, bustling city, we are totally spoilt with beautiful manicured, established parks and outside spaces. Some favourites are Safa, Barsha, Zabeel, Mushrif, Al Khazzan and Umm Sequim.
Zabeel is a favourite for its huge trees and great expansive greenery. The amphitheater steps entertain children for ages; there are winding pathways that create wonderful photogenic spots and if you plan your route well with your photographer, you can avoid playgrounds until the end of the shoot.
Safa is another old favourite with so much charm and so many amazing tall (read, photogenic!) trees. The front side of the park tends to be busy especially on weekends, so head to the back of the park to the 'woods' for beautiful autumnal colours. There is a lot to explore here which is great for children.
Public parks have defined opening times so be sure to check these in advance with your photographer. For larger family shoots a park is an ideal place as you don’t have to worry about space or everyone feeling squeezed in.
Al Qudra lakes
This is one of the most beautiful places to photograph families with its beautiful tones of pastel greens and blue skies.
The only down side to Al Qudra is that it can feel slightly like driving to a festival on the weekends; it is particularly busy from 4pm on Friday and Saturdays so shooting on a weekday is definitely going to be preferable.
If you had planned a desert shoot but the gusts of wind stopped you in your tracks….have a spot in Al Qudra as your backup plan. It’s not quite the same as the tranquility of the desert, but practically it is nearby and offers shade and protection from sandy gusts of wind.
Come and photowalk Al Qudra with me and I will personally show you my favourite spots to photograph clients here!
A note on places that I didn’t include
There are many other popular locations in Dubai for family photoshoots but most of these are private property and involve contacting the location and gaining permission directly.
For example, hotels and their private grounds, beach access on the Palm, Burj Plaza, Souk Al Manzil, La Mer, Box Park, City Walk, Al Seef, Bluewaters. It will be the responsibility of both you and your photographer to organise and gain permission from the relevant management authorities prior to your shoot date.
Interested in booking a shoot with me?
I would love to be considered as your photographer - if you would like to find out more about my shoots, the best place to head to would be my website.
In terms of my availability, I am currently fully booked in October; have a couple of weekend spots available in November (and many weekdays free) and am here for both the UAE National Day holiday and the 3-week winter break.
I look forward to connecting with you!