Sep 7th, 2009 |
So you just got your shiny new camera and want to go about taking some nice pictures. Then you look around and realize you’re in Saudi Arabia. Well the good news is, there’s never been a better time to pick up the hobby. SLRs are getting cheaper by the day. And with the prevalence of modern cellphones with their miniature onboard cameras, society has finally become more accepting of photos being taken. That said, walking around with an SLR, with a decent lens and a tripod is bound to turn some eyes. Here’s some tips for photographers in Saudi that I’ve picked up over the months. Please feel free to comment on this post and suggest some new ones!
- Whenever possible, keep your camera hidden. Some people tend to get uneasy if you’re walking around with one so it’s best to avoid any form of confrontation.
- Always ask before you take a photo of somebody, even in public. This goes more so for the male photographers shooting women. Though you should generally ok taking wide angled shots of no-one in particular.
- If shooting a wedding, never never never never NEVER take pictures of the womens’ side. People have been lynched for doing that. Yes, it’s THAT serious.
- When in doubt, don’t ask. If you’re unsure whether you’re allowed to take pictures of a certain building (or inside one), look left, and then look right. See anybody looking? No? Good, now take your picture. If you act like you know what you’re doing, all doors are open.
- Understand you have a right to be taking pictures in public. The ministry of tourism has allowed it and even published a document to that effect. Here’s the pdf transcript. Download it, print it, and keep it in your camera bag in case someone causes trouble.
- Despite the above, try not to hang around the same area for too long when taking pictures. The police (especially the religious police) are not aware, or choose not to be aware, of the law. They will only gladly run up to unsuspecting photographers yelling their favorite word: ‘mamnoo3′ (It’s not allowed). Sometimes locals will object to it as well and threaten to call the cops. Don’t fight, just leave and come back later.
Shooting in the climate here can get a little tricky sometimes!
- Deserts are very dusty (duh!). Avoid changing lenses in the field. And if you have to, do it in shelter (inside a car perhaps). You don’t want the sand messing up your image sensor.
- In the humid months, the lens can fog up if you try to take photos in the outdoors. There’s two ways to handle this:
- Get a good lens cloth; just Wipe ‘n shoot
- Keep your camera warm. If you know you’ll need to shoot soon, keep your camera outside for 10-15min so it warms up to the outside temperature. This prevents condensation from forming on the lens.
- Goes without saying, keep your equipment out of the heat of the sun.
- When shooting outdoors with flash with automatic metering on dusty days, the dust particles in the air close to the lens tend to become overly bright (due to proximity to the light source). This can throw off focus and metering. On these days, you’ll just need to go full manual on the focus and flash.
Not necessarily devoted to photos, these are people living in Saudi Arabia who’s websites I check out often for the interesting photos they put up!
- Khan Serai – A blog about politics, religion, and every now and then, some very quirky photos from Saudi. Check out the post on the Niqabi Cowgirls!
- Susie of Arabia – An American woman in Jeddah, posting pics of oddities and interesting things she finds all over the place!
- Samaher Tariq -With a passion for marketing and fashion, Samaher posts regular shots of some very well known brand names. If you’re into fashion, you’ll probably want to follow this one!
- I know there more out there, help me out!
I’ll keep updating this post, so check back. Got any tips to share? Comment!
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