The Female Gaze

Post 309 of 1734
  • Celeste's Favourite Shot

  • Juliet's Favourite Shot

  • Daniella's Favourite Shot

  • Tina's Favourite Shot

The world of fashion photography is one that has, historically, been viewed through the male
outlook more than the female. But over the past few years, it has become increasingly common to
see the various aspects of fashion captured through the eyes of women. Whether it is street style,
high fashion or couture shoots, women all over the world have been putting their spin on fashion
and capturing it to perfection. We speak to a few who are redefining the relationship between
camera and apparel.


Amira Ashour

Amira Ashour is a mother of three, a Business Management graduate and hasworked for the United Nations for seven years. But she always had a passion for style and the uniqueness in fashion details. Her dream was to capture stylish women walking on the streets. And when she first moved to Dubai, she noticed the beauty of lifestyle and the fashion scene in the city. She realized that women dressed their best, whether on the streets or in the malls. She always wanted to stop and compliment them on the way they looked, but instead, she decided to create a social media page to praise their outfit and honour how the look brought out their personalities. And that’s how streetstyledubai was born.

What problems did you face when you started doing this?
There were no problems what so ever! I enjoyed socializing with everyone I stopped to capture. It always happened so smoothly that they loved it!

How do people react when you approach them?
As you know, Dubai is a very safe place to live, so people are very
friendly. With the exception of those who don’t want their faces to show and ask for me to only take pictures of their outfits.

What draws you towards the people you capture?
The most important thing that draws me is their overall look, the diversity in style and how they stand out. I love simplicity and edginess. You know when you see someone dressed perfectly and look gorgeous but are so comfortable in their skin that they put it all out there? That’s what it is all about.

What is important when dressing up?
It is important to feel glamorous yet comfortable, different yet cool,simple yet iconic. These are the women that get my attention.

Has street style changed over the years?
Street style has become one of the most important platforms in the fashion scene. It has elevated to a level where it is an inspiration to women. At fashion shows in Paris, Milan, New York and Dubai, it plays a major role with bringing the nature of dressing up off the runway. Today, women look to how everyone dresses on the streets
to plan an impeccable look.

How has street style has impacted the fashion world?
Have you ever seen looks on the runway and asked yourself, ‘How will I wear that?’. Street style has shown women that you can take the best of everything on the runways but do it with comfort and personal identity and style. Women or men are not afraid to show the best of themselves while staying comfortable in their own zone.

What do you think of those who follow trends?
Trends are great, you just have to accommodate it and bring it out with your own personality. I think that everyone
should always look at what suits him or her before trying out a trend. If it works for you, then it’s great.

What are your views on the selfie culture today?
Selfies are the best self-portrait you can draw of yourself. It is amazing but to a limit. It can’t be over used and abused.

What makes a good picture; the people or the clothes?
No doubt; the people! It is their sense of style and their personality that reflects in many aspects.

What is currently catching your eye?
What really catches my attention and is a showstopper, are women who dress in sneakers or flats with elegance. It is so hard to style a good look while wearing a good pair of flat sandals or sneakers. So, casual and elegant looks with a twist definitely grab my attention.

Which city do you think is the most stylish?
Dubai has the most stylish and elegant women, but other than that, Paris, Milan and New Yorkhave stylish women.

What kinds of women surprise you in terms of their style?
Confident women always surprise me with how they dress. They appear so laid back in their absolute charm.

What do you think of style in Dubai?
I love style in Dubai. It is the main reason why I came up with Street Style Dubai. They certainly know how to dress to impress.

What does the future of street style have in store?
The future of street style is unlimited. It is a wide world of fashionable concepts with details. It is an inspiration for us to view the Amira Ashour power of great fashion values.




Celeste Van Rooyen

Celeste began her journey behind the camera at a young age with shooting and documenting herfarm for a book she was writing. Then in London, many moons ago, she won a few travel photography competitions and got really interested in lighting setups whilst working in front of the camera. Since then,she has delved into the world of fashion, lifestyle and advertising.

Celeste's Favourite Shot

Celeste’s Favourite Shot

How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?
I believe my work makes you feel and speak all languages. It is very diverse to suit the need of all walks of life. I am flexible with ideas and style.

When did you decide to get into photography?
It was not a decision, it just happened. The demand for good work was high and I was not only busy with my own career but I also loved working on set to produce and light shoots for others. I even do behind the scenes photography on commercial sets.

What are the challenges of working in Dubai?
Dubai is a city with a very high turnover of people. Editors of magazines change quickly and you have to be more active here with your marketing. Competition is high, as it is all over the world.

What is it like to always be working with new stylists, models and designers?
It is always very interesting to meet new people. It is also quite adventurous to see what their influence and vision can bring to the end result.

What does fashion mean to you?
For me, it is an ever-moving, changing concept of beauty, material and patterns that suits and challenges your taste.

What are your views of fashion in Dubai?
I think there is a lot of undiscovered talent in Dubai but I also think Dubai has some of my favourite designers.

What are the challenges of working in the fashion industry?
It is a small world. Everybody in the industry knows each other. It is a tough market and your talents are not always put to the test like you want it to be.

What photographers from the past or present have influenced you the most?
I am always interested to see what concepts Annie Leibovitz comes up with and I find the work of Toufic Araman
consistently beautiful.

What makes a great fashion photograph?
Everything has to work. The concept, background, lighting, model, wardrobe, make-up, hair and post production.
All these elements are very important to bring out the right picture.

Of all the images that you have taken, which one is your favourite and why?
I have many favourite images as every image has a special story. But my favourite story is the 1920’s shoot I
did. This was one of my first shoots and justthe whole story behind it from prep to post was amazing. How it turned out with the abandoned aircraft in Umm al Quwain still puts a smile on my face.

What advice would you give to budding photographers?
Surround yourself with like-minded people that you can trust. Build your professional team that you love to work with because it is imperative in this industry. Never give up. If you are inspired and have ideas,execute them! Planning is also vital in any fashion story.




Juliet Dunne

Juliet, 32, has grown up in Dubai. Her interest in photography was first piqued when she came into contact with an old Minolta Weathermatic underwater film camera that her father had. From that moment on, she was hooked and her love affair with both photography and the ocean began. By the time college came around, she had to make a choice between her two great passions; marine biology and art. Eventually, she chose to pursue art, and ended up at an art college and then university where she studied graphic design,art and photography.

Juliet's Favourite Shot

Juliet’s Favourite Shot

Describe your work.
That really depends on the type of work, but I think it’s fair to say that my camera is only an extension of my mind and my artistic expression. I do my research and gather ideas. I am always well prepared with my direction for any shoot, but ultimately, I shoot from the hip. I go with my gut and I stay true to myself.

So you decided early on that this would be your career?
Yes, pretty much a s soon as I finished university, I knew I was going to be a photographer.

What are the challenges of shooting in Dubai?
I love shooting outdoors so the obvious one is the weather, which is definitely a challenge in the summer months.

In your field you are always working with new people. What is that like?
It is always exciting to meet and work with new talent. Of course, sometimes it can be challenging because individuals have their own particular direction. But, if you’re lucky enough to work with great people with good energy, which I fortunately have been, then that’s when the magicreally happens.

What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is about expressing your identity, that’s what makes working with fashion such fun. No two shoots are ever the same.

What do you think of fashion in Dubai?
The fashion scene in Dubai has really come into its own in the recent years. We are no longer just following trends, we are now setting them. The region has more than a sprinkling of creatives and visionaries that are putting Dubai on the fashion map. I’m really excited at the prospects, and thankful that I get to be a part of it.

What are the challenges of working in the fashion industry?
Fashion is so fast paced, it is sometimes exhausting to keep up with the changing trends, but it is what drives me to always push myself creatively and push out new work and ideas.

Which photographers from the past or present have influenced you the most?
My favourite two photographers have to be the celebrity and advertising photographer,Michael Muller. I love him for his incredible up-close underwater shark photography and Hedi Slimane, for his simple and raw style of fashion portraits.

What makes a great fashion photograph?
It’s all about a great fashion team. When great styling, hair and makeup and model come together, that does it. Often the best photos are captured when they’re not planned. It just happens on set and you capture that magic moment.

Of all the images that you have taken, which one is your favorite and why?
That’s a very hard question. I get so excited to shoot new stuff and I’m always pushing myself to do better. My favourite subjects to shoot are, and always will be water based. But when I look back at past shoots, I’d say
some of my favourites were taken for Mindfood Style on Bani Yas island with the animals. One photo in particular that I caught at the end of a long and cold day was when the model, Anna, jumped in the car to warm up and slumped over the steering wheel, it was at that moment when she was gazing out into the open plane that I quickly snapped a shot of her. The shot wasn’t planned, it just happened.




Daniella Baptista

Daniella’s always considered herself an artist. Back in Brazil, she studied Fine Arts but was always the photographer of the family. When she moved to London from São Paulo, she wanted to capture the city’s vibrancy and everything that was new to her. She decided to immerse herself in the creative culture and study photography. She then attended the London College of Communication where she learned the tricks and trade of photography and had the chance to practice the different photographic techniques.

Daniella's Favourite Shot

Daniella’s Favourite Shot

Describe your work style.
My photographic style is known for being warm, romantic and light. It is no coincidence that I photograph a lot of weddings as brides tend to prefer this style mixed with a fashion and editorial look for their pictures.

When did you decide to make this a fulltime career?
After finishing college I decided I would try as hard as I could to make photography my career. I remember on our first class of 60 people, our tutors said that only a handful of us would actually make a living as photographers. We were all shocked, but it was the harsh truth, it is very easy to give up,as the challenges are many.

What are the challenges of working in Dubai?
Dubai has proven to be a wonderful place to work as a photographer. Of course, every place has its rules and tendencies, but I find the mix of people who live here are very welcoming to new ideas and styles. Perhaps,the biggest challenge is the heat.

What is it like to always be working with new stylists, models and designers?
It is very inspiring. I love brainstorming with creative people. There is never a dull moment. Many of us come from different backgrounds. The variety of ideas and input is huge. When you are working on an exciting project, this is a very positive asset to have, the more creative the better.

Why fashion?
I have come to appreciate fashion more and Daniella Baptista more over the years. For me, fashion is like another form of art. It is a way of expressing your state of mind, your beliefs, your political views and your mood. As for fashion photography, I see clothes as props rather than the central element.

What are your views on fashion in Dubai?
Fashion definitely occupies a big space in the Dubai scene. It is a shopping destination after all. Even with people who are traditional, you’ll see innovative new abayas become popular among the new generation. There are also many fashion designers hosting events and launching new concepts, so Dubai is definitely making its mark in the fashion world.

What are the challenges of working in the fashion industry?
There are many. It is hard to start off when you don’t know many people in the industry. Hard work and learning from the ground up cannot be stressed enough. If you manage to get yourself in an established position, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will always be able to apply your personal ideas on commercial assignments, which can be very frustrating.

Which photographers’ work do you follow?
When I was at college, I immersed myself into the history of photography, and wrote quite a bit about documentary photographers like Cartier Bresson, Elliot Erwitt, and the whole lot of Magnum photographers. From the fashion world, I would say Helmut Newton,David Bailey, Peter Lindbergh and BruceWeber. I love how these guys connect with their subjects and still make the photo spontaneous and intimate.

What makes a great fashion photograph?
A combination of factors, the appropriate lighting for the mood you are creating, the choice of model, clothes and location. And for me, a good fashion photograph needs to deliver a message, whatever message that is.

Which is your favourite image?
That is a hard question. There are moments when everything comes together and a photograph is taken. It then becomes a reminder of that time. Sometimes the picture itself is nothing special but it takes you back to a place, a sound, a smell and that is the power of photography. If I had to pick one, I would say the picture I took in
Thailand for the styled shoot; ‘A Touch of Fashion.

‘What advice would you give to those starting out?
Fashion photography is a very competitive career. You have to be prepared to work for free a lot in order to pursue your dream.Assisting other photographers with whom you identify yourself with can help you develop your style. Patience and the right temperament are also essential to succeed in this industry. It is a very hard career and there are no guarantees of success, but if this is what you love doing the most you should never give up.




Tina Patni

As a child, Tina was always inclined towards different forms of art. She grew up in Dubai to a family of photographers, which is probably why photography came to her very naturally and was the obvious choice.

Tina's Favourite Shot

Tina’s Favourite Shot

What is your work about?
I believe my work to be a persona of my self. My personality depicts my work. It is the way I see things. I love textures; hence my work is a canvas on which I use a device to capture instead of a paintbrush. Also, I believe that every photograph should tell a story.

Coming from a family of photographers,was this an easy career choice?
As a teenager I would tag along with my dad on his shoots, and it always intrigued me, so at a very early age I was exposed to cameras and equipment. I would use my friends as my subjects and shoot them. Eventually, I got asked to shoot portfolios for aspiring models. The rest just followed.

What are the challenges of working in Dubai?
The biggest challenge is the summer; it is nearly impossible to shoot outdoors in 50-degree heat. Apart from that, we could surely ask for better locations.

What is it like to constantly work with new people?
A good photo shoot involves a great team. I normally prefer working with the same team; where everyone understands and syncs easily with each other’s ideas. Where models are concerned, it is always great to work with new faces and characters. As for designers, each one of them has an individual style and that gives us the freedom to come up with new concepts each time.

What is fashion to you?
Fashion to me is a form of expressing my identity and myself. It is important to prioritize your style over a trend, and not be a slave to it.

What do you think of fashion in Dubai?
Dubai certainly has its own flavour. People have their own sense of style and they make most of what the city offers. Even the local labels are evolving rapidly.

What are the challenges of working in the fashion industry?
The main challenge is to do justice to the labels and designers we shoot for. Every season there is a new collection and we have to base our shoots around them and conceptualize accordingly.

Who are your favourite photographers?
Masters such as Paolo Roversi top my list along with Steven Meisel, Steven Klein, Helmut Newton, Peter Lindbergh and Marcus. My recent favourites are Solve Sundsbo and Camilla Akrans.

What, according to you, makes a great picture?
Apart from the composition and lighting, you have to invest yourself in it and connect with the subject. At the end of it, your photograph should narrate a story.

Which is your favourite picture from your work?
I can’t really pick one, to be honest. There are quite a few. I love what I do, hence I have a lot of favourites.

What advice to those seeking this career?
Keep shooting! A good camera surely helps but doesn’t define a good photographer, so no matter what gear you have, keep clicking until you discover your style. The best way to learn and get inspired is to constantly look at great work. Buy a good pair of shoes and keep walking, you’ll find inspiration at every step.