You’ve probably seen the photographs on social media or online – those dream-like visions of Dubai’s skyscrapers peeking through a mist of fog at sunrise.
Chances are, they were taken by two of the UAE’s best-known photographers: Daniel Cheong and Beno Saradzic. The pair are currently displaying some of their recent works at Monda Gallery at Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, as part of an exhibition running until February 28.
Cheong is an authority in Dubai on “digital blending”, a photographic technique he uses to present an idealised and compelling version of reality, while Saradzic is known for capturing the public’s attention with his virally shared Dubai and Abu Dhabi time-lapse movies.
Slovenian-born Saradzic is a multi-specialist visual artist who has been living in the UAE since the early ’90s and has been nominated for an Emmy for his work as a film director and producer. “The UAE was love at first sight for me and has remained my home ever since,” he says. “I’m not looking to convey the absolute truth with my camera. The scenes I capture communicate a narrative, which reflects a heightened reality. I’m driven by the quest to communicate how the scene made me feel when I was there, rather than what my eyes saw.”
Titled Dubai from Dawn to Dusk – A Real Mirage, the show consists of 20 large-format pictures celebrating the architectural majesty of the city. Here, the artists talk us through some of the works on display.
1. Chilly Morning in DIFC, by Daniel Cheong
“Dubai city lights make the most beautiful coloured fog shot and this one shows great movement of the fog along with a great alignment of the Sheikh Zayed Road buildings towards the morning light. It is one of my favourite pictures because it conveys the very essence of the early morning experience.”
2. Jumeirah Lights, by Daniel Cheong
“With its variety of elements, shapes and lights, Dubai really is a paradise for photographers. This is the best view from the Burj Al Arab helipad and I loved creating this contrast between the beach in the forefront and the dense Downtown Dubai in the distance.”
3. Lost, by Beno Saradzic
“I took this shot in the desert just outside of Dubai. The wind created a wonderful dramatic mood, which was quite unexpected. The person featured in the frame is my friend, who is also a photographer. He was looking to find his perfect shot among the dunes. He had no idea that his presence would help me to make my own perfect image.”
4. Planet Marina, by Beno Saradzic
“If you’re an avid cityscape photographer, Dubai Marina is the place to shoot. It has everything you want in an urban subject: tall skyscrapers of great varieties and designs, bright and colourful lights, a canal, bridges, busy highways and roads.”
5. Burj Galactic, by Beno Saradzic
“Aerial photography is my speciality. In most cases, I travel in civilian helicopters with clearance to fly only with full visibility from sunrise until sunset. I was extremely excited when I finally had the opportunity to shoot from a helicopter at night, because I knew it was going to be a whole new world through my lens. I wasn’t wrong. Downtown Dubai and Burj Khalifa are completely transformed when the lighting is turned on. It’s a truly remarkable sight. Post-production treatment of this image was inspired by the great classics of sci-fi cinema such as Blade Runner, The Fifth Element and Star Wars.”