About two weeks ago I was approached by a Dubai based event company - straightforwardly called The Event Company - to photograph the fun times of a grand prize winner family in Abu Dhabi. This family from Oman has won a luxurious weekend in the UAE capital, and my job was to follow and photograph their sightseeing tour in the city, so they could have some nice photographs as a memory. Was I ready to do it? Heck yeah! While might not all photographers are willing to travel, I love to - I'm always ready for adventures! Plus, photographing happy people is always an uplifting job to do - and I imagined that a grand prize winner family should be reasonably happy :). That's why I love photographing weddings as well - I work hard, but at the same time I can share the joy and the excitement of the couple.
So, it sounded just great, and it turned out great too. On the day of the job I have checked that all batteries are fully charged, my lenses are clean and my flash (Fuji EF-42) and my cameras (a Fuji X-T1 and an X-E1 as a backup) are working fine. Then I had a quick swim in the pool in front of our apartment building, and refreshed, I packed my photography equipment, got in my trusty 4x4 Ford Escape, and started my journey to the capital.
After around an 1.5 hour drive through the desert I arrived to the Yas Island Rotana Hotel. There I met the lovely Raina from The Event Company, and her sister. They are originally from Sudan, and as it turned out, Raina's sister has spent three years in Budapest, Hungary in college. I attended university in Budapest as well, so we could have some good talk until we waited for the lucky family to arrive.
You may notice the strengthened security at the hotel entrance in the picture: metal detector, baggage X-ray - just like at an embassy building or at an airport. I experienced the same at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque later that day, it had much stricter safety measures than the last time I was there, circa 10 months ago - it could well be the effect of the Paris attack, which happened just two weeks before. Anyway, fortunately this day went on in total peace and joy.
Soon the family - who was staying in the hotel - arrived down to the lobby. Here they are (here already posing in front of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque):
Albert, the father, Rose, the mother, and the three girls, all with names starting with letter A, just like their father's. Arlene, Aileen and Alma, if I remember right. In front of the hotel two gorgeous, snow-white Mercedes AMG G 63 SUV's were waiting for us, with drivers of course. I sat in the car with Albert, and his oldest - 14-year-old - daughter. I sat with Albert in the back, which turned out to be really fortunate, as we had some great discussions. He was very open and cheerful, and after some minutes we were chatting just like old friends.
Albert told me that they moved a couple of years ago from the Philippines to Oman, where he teaches pharmaceutics. He also enjoyed photography and asked me for some advice, which I was happy to give. Supporting others by sharing my knowledge plays an important role in my life. So if you would like to ask me anything about photography, don't hesitate to contact me. If you get better, we all get better.
It took us 40 minutes to get to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque from the hotel, but the time flew by in the good company.
When we successfully passed the checkpoint, I took some posed shots, but most of the time I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible, and capture honest, organic, unguarded moments in a candid way.
We spent around 40 minutes at the Mosque, then the family started to get tired - as their airplane just arrived this morning to Abu Dhabi -, so we headed back to the cars.
I must put a picture of our driver here too, as he was a real character, looking like someone who has just stepped out of a Godfather or Donnie Brasco movie. I even helped him out with some GPS guidance from my smartphone, as he - like many taxi drivers in Dubai - was so oldschool that he didn't use GPS, and therefore could get easily lost sometimes.
So after the Mosque we drove around the city and ticked off some more sights, but then one of the girls (the middle one) fall asleep in the car, so it was right time to say goodbye. It was a great day, wonderful time spent with a nice family.
Well, but the day hasn't finished for me yet. The driver took me back to the hotel, and I was waiting there for the hotel staff to bring me my car from the garage. While waiting I wandered away a little, photographing some beautiful Ferraris. I got so immersed in this activity that I haven't noticed that my car has arrived.
So when I realized that the hotel valet guy is waiting for me with my car, I started to rush there fast through a little park, where I managed to accidentally step in a shallow unlit fountain, and got soaked all up to my knees. Well, not a tragedy, as in Abu Dhabi the weather was still pretty warm, and no equipment got soaked. So I just smiled at the valet guy - what else could I have done -, got in my car and drove away with my head up. At least I even got a bit of an adventure I was looking for.
All photos shot with Fuji X-T1 camera, equipped with the Fuji XF 18-55 mm lens and the Fuji EF-42 flash.