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Inside the Diary of a Fashion Photographer Quarantined in Dubai

Abdulla Elmaz

Photo: Instagram/@abdullaelmaz

Abdulla Elmaz is a surrealist fashion photographer based in Dubai. Born to Albanian and Turkish parents and raised in a small country town called Shepparton in the north-east of Melbourne, Australia, the 29-year-old photographer moved to Dubai a year ago to “start a new journey.” His work, with an interesting take on light, shadow, the geometry of objects in space expressed through his unique absurdist compositions – has quickly gained popularity in the region and the world over. Subsequently, he has worked for brands like Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Gucci among others. “I’ve been very grateful to shoot for many magazines in the region and the world, but the most exciting project so far would have to be my most recent work for Valentino that got picked up world-wide from their Instagram,” Elmaz added.

Mona Kattan photographed by Abdulla Elmaz for Vogue Arabia

“When I was 17 I decided that I wanted to do photography for a living, but my parents had never really seen it as a career and wanted me to pursue something else and make them proud, so I studied architecture for a year and then advertising for 2 years – after which I took a break,” he says about his formative years and how it’s shaped the kind of photographer he is today. “I will never forget a hand-drawing exercise for one of my architecture classes. We had to measure every millimeter and draw with ink, spending 8 hours on one drawing, only to be told by my professor to do it all over again. I can look back on those lessons as what made a perfectionist today,” Elmaz added. Elmaz doesn’t believe one needs to be creatively restricted just because they’re not able to leave their house. On what inspires him Elmaz says, “As an artist, I’m inspired by so much, but music plays a huge part in everything I do as it helps me visualize a mood for my images. Life experiences also play a big part in inspiring my work through heartbreak, difficult times, accepting loneliness, and allowing to love oneself.”

About the following images he shot at home during quarantine he adds, “I wanted to take everyone on a journey with me through 7 days of quarantine, how my brain works and how I can make use with what I have around my home to create interesting shots with no-one but myself.”

Day 1: Shooting in a lockdown is challenging and requires a lot of brainpower but I think I have created some of my best work in quarantine.

Day 2: Nostalgia kicks in with this one I shot way back in 2018 in Australia. The Crocodile is not real.

Day 3: Monobloc chairs. Timeless in every way, such a key aspect to my photoshoots that I keep going back to.

Day 4: Roses, they can hold so much meaning, a form of love, celebration and forgiveness, such a timeless item within itself.

Day 5: A while ago, I become obsessed with the movie Inception – and started playing with a dreamscape, using the magic of perspective with a fisheye lens.

Day 6: Light, such an underrated element to a shoot, 3 years ago I experimented with highlighting faces with light. I shoot with natural light 99% of the time, and natural light only comes from one side, but when it’s shining from two sides, it automatically makes you question – How?

Day 7: I will always go back to the idea of perception and mirrors is such a key element to creating another dimension, here I played with an idea of how can I have the images show many layers without photoshopping it.

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