Shutter city

Meet Anthony Lamb, the photographer tuning Dubai’s cityscapes into fine art

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You’ve probably seen hundreds of epic Dubai cityscapes by now, but Anthony Lamb, a fine art photographer whose stunning images will be on show at an exhibition at Citizen E Gallery for a month from Thursday April 20, sees things through an entirely different lens.

“I’ve always liked clean design, minimal modern art, simple compositions in landscape paintings, symmetry and balance,” says Lamb. “So it always made sense to me that when composing a photograph the image should be simplistic and uncluttered.”

It’s a refreshing change to see someone capture such calm, serene scenes, when day-to-day life in Dubai can feel so frantic. But Lamb takes it all one step further.

“I look for the interesting details and try to break down an image into bite-size pieces,” he says. “Black and white photography also gives me the ability to push boundaries when manipulating the image. People see in colour every day. By removing this distraction, you begin to see the reality of how light falls on the objects around us.”

Lamb’s images also reveal hidden spots that offer a new perspective on the city. He uses Google Maps and Street View to pin locations to explore further, and sometimes returns up to five times to capture a scene in different weather and light conditions.

In Blue Hour, for example, Lamb took the photo on a windy and stormy evening and used long exposure to give the water its milky, smooth texture. The dreamy, blue aesthetic of the image comes from the light at a specific time of day, after the sun has set, in a period that photographers refer to as the “blue hour”.

Lamb is drawn to water, inspired by the changing reflective light, shifting moods and constant movement that it offers. In Before the Traffic, which he shot at 7am in Dubai Marina, the lack of boats meant he was able to capture stunning, smooth reflections of the towers, and the long shadows that they cast across the water from the sunrise.

Lamb comes from a family of creatives and his travels throughout the Alps, the UK’s Lake District and Scotland gave him an appreciation for large, open spaces. But it wasn’t until he headed to Australia on a backpacking trip in 2002 – and came across the stunning panoramic landscape photographs of Peter Lik – that he took up photography. “[He] opened my eyes to what was possible with a camera,” says Lamb. “The introduction of the digital camera gave me the ability to control the whole photographic process and allowed me to use the Photoshop skills I learned at university. The combination of all the above motivated me to save for a Digital SLR camera.”

Now, he says, he’s influenced by everyone and everything from artists and other photographers to music, films and design, counting artists Zaria Forman and Ian Davenport among them (“Their work holds a simplistic, beautiful aesthetic and a sense of calm and order”) and photographers Michael Kenna, James Balog and Ansel Adams. “A lot of my images are trial and error,” he adds. “I might head out into the desert looking for a suitable point of interest. Sometimes I come home with three or four images I’m really happy with, but on many occasions I’ve come home with nothing.”
 
But that’s also what motivates him. “[It] drives me to get out of bed before sunrise to wander the dunes for hours,” he says. “And to sit waiting for that perfect moment.”
Free. Apr 20-May 20, Sun-Thu 10am-7pm. Citizen E Art Gallery, d3, www.anthonylambphotography.com (04 457 2380).

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