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Thread: Street Photography in the Souqs I

  1. #1
    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Street Photography in the Souqs I

    I've visited the old souqs in Dubai a few times over the past year in order to capture life on the streets in areas which tourists and visitors rarely visit, especially before opening time. In the evenings you cannot walk 5 metres before you're approached by stall owners but arrive in the morning before opening time and you see a completely different side to everyday life in the alleyways and streets on either side of Dubai creek, which was the old centre of town.


    Here are 10 shots from the area of the textile souq, spice souq, gold souq and fish market - all candid


    1. An Omani man waiting for the tea shop to open for breakfast before work in the Textile Souq

    Street Photography in the Souqs I


    2. Men sharing a conversation over a cup of tea, pouring the tea into their saucers to increase the surface area and cool it.

    Street Photography in the Souqs I


    3. Gas Delivery in the early hours

    Street Photography in the Souqs I


    4. A Middle Eastern couple walking past the entrance to the Spice Souq

    Street Photography in the Souqs I


    5. A Pakistani man walking to work in the Textile Souq

    Street Photography in the Souqs I


    6. A porter hauling fish at the Fish Market. Unfortunately I had an 85mm prime on my camera at the time, and no time to recompose as he wandered by, but his trance like state helps to emphasise the monotony of his job. I considered a tighter crop, but wanted to keep the roofing, lighting and tails of whole dried fish in the background for context

    Street Photography in the Souqs I


    7. By evening, all these shops are open and bustling. In the early morning this old man is being helped to his family shop

    Street Photography in the Souqs I


    8. Even in the early morning when the sun has just risen the mercury rises to over 40 degrees c. I've seen this old man a few times at the Fish Market, and he didn't want his portrait taken on subsequent visits to my first trip, when I was just shooting candids

    Street Photography in the Souqs I


    9. Two men deep in conversation outside their cafe

    Street Photography in the Souqs I


    10. Two elder Emiratis visiting a cloth shop in the Textile Souq - the first customers of the day. I had the 14-24 on board at the time so was pretty close but unnoticed!

    Street Photography in the Souqs I

  2. #2

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    Sahil Jain

    Re: Street Photography in the Souqs I

    Wow! What a set of pictures. I envy your B&W conversion. I just can't seem to get hang of it. A nice documentary you have made there.
    Image No 1, 5, 7 & 8 are my favourite of the lot.

  3. #3
    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: Street Photography in the Souqs I

    Thanks Sahil. I have a technique now which I prefer to use for B&W conversions. I'm processing my RAW files into Photoshop and then using Nik Software Color Efex selectively, followed by varying effect in Silver Efex in layers to give a little 'pop'. This really helps to bring out the shadow and tones in the clothing.

  4. #4
    MilT0s's Avatar
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    Re: Street Photography in the Souqs I

    Excellent photos Phil, a pros work. National Geographic quality stuff.

  5. #5

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    Re: Street Photography in the Souqs I

    Another wonderful series but #4 just jumps out at me. I like the pop of the contrast, the bold lettering, the curvature of the street, and the placement and posture of the man delivering gas.

    areas which tourists and visitors rarely visit
    My wife's family members visited their family members in Dubai every three years and never mentioned the souqs. I would be willing to bet that they never visited them. Having enjoyed the souqs in Jerusalem and several cities in Egypt and Morroco (Fez was the best), I would probably visit the souqs first.

  6. #6
    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: Street Photography in the Souqs I

    Thanks for your kind words, Mike. The souqs are on the tourist trail, but most people head to the malls and air conditioning. The most visited is the Gold Souq, but there is a more modern indoor version which is more comfortable to walk around. Mornings are very quiet in the souqs with people milling about and going to work, which gives the photographer lots of potential along with a cheap $0.20 ride across the creek in a traditional 'abra', or water taxi, to the other side of the old town

    Here's an abra during the morning commute:

    Street Photography in the Souqs I

    So it's definitely worth a visit but only early as a photographer or later as a tourist.

    The Fish Market is a photography Gold Mine! A friend from another forum was visiting Dubai and hooked up with me for a photoshoot there and thought he'd just stepped into an edition of National Geographic. There is a lively fruit and vegetable section as well but the pick has to be the butchery section.

    If you enter via the door on the left, you are initially greeted with more 'westernised' cuts of meat although the animals may differ from the usual beef, chicken, lamb and pork (definitely no pork here though!).

    Enter via the door on the right however and you slam into a full on culture shock of hooves, eyes, brains, tongues, genitals, etc.

    Vegetarians or camel lovers may wish to look away now!!!




    Street Photography in the Souqs I

    Street Photography in the Souqs I

    So the right door is the MacDonalds pick up point
    Last edited by dubaiphil; 25th August 2012 at 12:11 PM.

  7. #7

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    Re: Street Photography in the Souqs I

    Amazing photographs! I love the motion that you managed to capture in the butcher shot.

  8. #8
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Street Photography in the Souqs I

    Phil, your collection of images are magnificent and worthy of printing into a coffee table photo book. I am sure that it would sell as a souvenier in Dubai - I'll bet it would be a hit at the airport book shop. Perhaps even, you could get a rich Dubai person to sponsor the book!

  9. #9
    Marie Hass's Avatar
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    Re: Street Photography in the Souqs I

    I was in the UAE, Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the 1980's before I had a camera. Your pictures take me back. I had to have a man with me as I shopped. I was not fortunate enough to be allowed access to these areas like you, even though I had glimpses, like looking up alleys.

    Thank you, thank you. These were beautiful places.

    Marie
    Last edited by Marie Hass; 26th August 2012 at 01:57 AM.

  10. #10

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    Re: Street Photography in the Souqs I

    very nice pics!!! I love your b&W converssion!!!

  11. #11
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    Re: Street Photography in the Souqs I

    Another wonderfully enjoyable selection of photos. I enjoyed Anita van der Krol's photography of Dubai from the 1980s when I first came across it a couple of years ago. Though her modern photos don't show this same side of Dubai... so I've thoroughly enjoyed your captures.

  12. #12
    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: Street Photography in the Souqs I

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoByTrace View Post
    Another wonderfully enjoyable selection of photos. I enjoyed Anita van der Krol's photography of Dubai from the 1980s when I first came across it a couple of years ago. Though her modern photos don't show this same side of Dubai... so I've thoroughly enjoyed your captures.
    Wow - thanks for link, Trace. I'm just scanning the shots now and this one is recognisable as the same alleyway I shot #1 and #7 above in:

    http://www.anitavanderkrol.com/frame.php?itemId=182056

  13. #13
    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: Street Photography in the Souqs I

    Thanks Marie. Dubai has changed a lot in the past 11 years since I first visited, let alone from the 1980's! As mentioned by Trace, take a look at Anita van der Krol's photography to see more of what Dubai used to be like around your time. Did you have to cover your hair in those days? Nowadays the place is far more westernised and women have a lot more freedom than 1-2 generations ago - you still see more traditional women with the full veil but a lot just wear the abaya and cover their hair.

    It's amazing to think that the stall owners in the 70's shots were mainly Emirati - their children are now owners of large groups of companies and swanning around in luxury cars that their parents could only have dreamed about!

  14. #14
    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: Street Photography in the Souqs I

    Thanks Richard! I've tried a one off Blurb photobook, but want to try to capture more of Abu Dhabi and other Emirates before I'd even dream of that. I have modern shots of the new cityscape in black and white which highlight the contrasts of Dubai. The old souqs are still here, but not as thriving as they used to be and shrinking at an alarming rate (due to the hypermarkets with their spices and jewelry sections) and they are turning more into a small tourist attraction and place for the elder generation to shop so I I'd like to document these areas while I can.

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