A Culture that gets lost in a Sea of Culture

Zack Arias giving us the lowdown of the area

Zack Arias giving us the lowdown of the area

Yesterday was my "street photography course with Zack Arias. He is an established portrait and street photgrapher based out of Atlanta, GA. It started out in a classroom setting and Zack gave us some really practical tips for capturing street photography, especially people. So the idea is go out on the street and take pictures of complete strangers in a strange country without upsetting for offending them so you can share your story and theirs if you know it when you return home...Got it...Easy...Not.

Conceptually it actually was easy. You walk the streets and explore the smells, sounds, faces and get a feel for the area. Sometimes you act like a "magician" and sort of pretend to take the image without people realizing it. And sometimes you just smile and ask if you can take their picture. If they say no, you move on. Oh and your focus, exposure, ISO and shutter speed have to all be ready to go in an instant. Got it...Easy...Not.

Young Pakastani man taking a break from loading goods on to a Cargo ship heading for Iran

As a group we went to the Dhow Wharfage area of Dubai which is situated along Dubai Creek. The streets are bustling with small shops, alleyways, cars, and people of all different backgrounds. The creek is full of ships with men hauling textiles or food on their backs. You can tell it's grueling physical work that they do day in and day out.

I was walking with Zack and another student and I saw a young Pakastani man taking a break and saw him yawning. He saw me walk by and put his hand in front of his mouth. I guess it's universally rude to yawn with your mouth open? I smiled and kinda pointed at him as if to say I caught you yawning. He smiled back and I could tell he was friendly so I walked up to him. He didn't speak English too well, but we exchanged words and I learned the ship was being loaded with goods going to Iran and the trip would take 12 hours. But he only worked on the dock. I asked him if I could take his picture and he obliged. It was such a cool interaction and I'm thankful to have an image to remember it. 

You see many men like this one constantly shuffling goods in the area with a cart.

Dubai has so many people from all of the world, it's hard to get a sense of who is from Dubai. I learned from Mark today that you can't become a citizen of the UAE no matter how long you live here. The citizens are called Emirates and they make up only 14% of the population. In my time here I have met people from Iran, India, Pakastan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia along with expats from Great Britain, South Africa, Ireland, Australia and the list goes on and on. So Dubai is the quintessential melting pot. 

I was walking with a young woman named Zainab who works from Gulf Photo Plus. She is from Kenya and has lived in Dubai for about 5 years. She asked me how I liked Dubai. I paused and thought carefully trying to think of a way to define it. Then I said, "It is a city so full of culture that it gets lost in a sea of culture." 

My experience of shooting street photography was amazing and I know it is a genre that I will continue to pursue in my travels.