Arabian Gazette Exclusive:
Well-known celebrity Hermoine Macura interviews fashion photographer Rhys Simpson-Hopkins.
Fashion photography in the Arab world is an art that few photographers master. Hermione Macura heads behind the scenes to meet a UAE-based photographer who offers a fresh perspective for local brands that want to stay true to their cultural roots.
Welsh national, Rhys Simpson-Hopkins came to Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, from the South of Wales with a love for travel, education and culture. However it was after an opportunity to turn a part-time hobby into a full-time profession that finally led to his real calling in the UAE: Imagination Photography. Clearly passionate about his trade, what makes Rhys so unique is that he is not limited by one genre of photography. Here’s more on the inspiration behind his work and the behind the scenes of his latest luxury jewelry shoot.
1) In what way do you think pictures are a more powerful medium?
I’m most in awe of the photographers who go into the unstable places in the world, often risking their lives to bring everyone else an insight into what’s going on. The best journalist can bring you the most significant story, but an accompanying photograph by a photojournalist can completely change the awareness of a situation. The next plan is to have my first exhibition, showing images of the displaced orphans and their lives, and to continue raising money.
2) What stereotypes do you aim to dispel with your images about Arab culture/people?
I have so much admiration for Emirati people and the way the country is run. The tolerance and desire in creating a multicultural society that is so conscientious about their place in the world – in the future. In the UAE, there are many fantastic, multicultural photographers capturing iconic moments of both traditions and the future, images from Bedouin camps to illustrious skyscrapers. Unfortunately with global spotlights pointing directly on the Middle East, ignorant stereotypes are created. So much news is generated from negatives in the region and this is what people choose to focus on and remember. It’s much nicer to see good news come from bad situations at times – stories that can make you feel good about the world and have a better understanding. Photography is central to this.
3) Tell us about the jewelry shoot?
I became involved with this project partly because of my wife, Holly, and partly by Tamara Galasso, a friend of Sheikha Fatema al Qassimi. Tamara suggested to Fatema that Holly model the jewelry pieces in preparation for the Ras Al Khaimah Arts Festival, where the pieces would be shown.
One element I enjoyed the most was shooting the pieces at the late Sheikh Saqr Al Qassimi’s horse stables. If you enjoy living in Ras Al Khaimah you allow yourself to learn about the history of the place, Sheikh Saqr has such an interesting story.
4) Which is your favorite picture and why?
Probably the wide shot of Holly holding onto the horse and looking into the sun. There was so much scope for editing on this piece and so I presented three options to Fatima, suggesting she use the three edits as a backdrop to her exhibit at the festival. They were set on canvas and looked incredible. Even the printing company requested a copy to put on the wall in the office and at the festival we were having requests to purchase the photograph. I didn’t anticipate that!
Hermoine Macura is the first Australian female English-speaking TV News Anchor in the Middle East, and also one of the area’s most recognized faces. Prior to establishing Straight Street Media in 2012, Hermoine was one of the main Anchor’s on Dubai One TV’s Emirates News. Her first book, FACES OF THE MIDDLE EAST was published in 2010.
Faces of the Middle East
by Hermoine Macura
FACES OF THE MIDDLE EAST is a book that aims to introduce the various ethnic and social groups who reside throughout the Middle East, proof that this part of the world is not, as many in the West mistakenly believe, a monolithic culture.
Neither a definitive story nor a political statement, FACES OF THE MIDDLE EAST, is the culmination of more then seven years of Photojournalism that documents the existence and rich diversity present in the region.
Order a copy online at www.straightstreetmedia.ae