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How to Shoot Futuristic Cityscapes of Dubai

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a milllion lights

I recently went on a 2-week trip to Dubai, a city with a futuristic appearance that looks like it came straight out of a movie like Blade Runner. If you enjoy shooting cityscapes, Dubai is where your dreams come true.

First off, I’ve had quite a few people ask me if all of these shots are real. Yes, they are all real. Dubai really does look like this.

skyline

What’s interesting is that the skyline constantly changes. New buildings are getting built every week, which can potentially obstruct known viewpoints, or create new roofs to shoot from.

For example I was shooting from a rooftop from a residential building that was known as Burj Dubai. This building used to have an amazing view over Dubai’s business bay, but they’re building a new tower in front of it that is going to ruin the rooftop’s view. So, things are always different in Dubai and I love it.

ring of darkness

Now the second question I get a lot is how I was able to shoot from these viewpoints. Are these drone shots? Or are they only from rooftops? And how do you get access? Well, shooting in Dubai requires planning.

Dubai at its best!
Dubai at its best!

All of the shots you see in these series are done with a normal camera and tripod, so no drones were involved. There are a lot of beautiful views from particular buildings that you can’t just access. You either have to contact the management, ask nicely to security, or have friends to help you — having a good portfolio really helps with this.

shooting time

When you contact the management of certain buildings you have to be very polite, show them your work and try to convince them that you’re not only doing it for yourself, but also for them. I always tell them that I would give them some high resolution images for promotional use.

road of the future

Having a social media following also helps. It all helps to make these organisations take you more serious and more likely to let you up onto their roof. There are also some hotels that have rooftops. With hotels its easier in general as they will probably cooperate more readily.

cayan vertorama

Another option is to rent great apartments on high floors with a balcony through services like AirBnb. I spent a great amount of time scouting for those kinds of places. The price is often not cheap, but it’s the price you pay for a potentially amazing photo. You’re basically paying for a great shot and for a place to sleep. So if you think like that, perhaps it won’t feel like it’s as expensive.

gold marina

Plus, you may even be able to sell and/or license the shot you took and make a profit!


About the author: Albert Dros is a photographer based in Amsterdam. He recently wrote a separate post about Dubai on his blog here. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Flickr.

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