Female photographer in Dubai: true story about lady behind the camera
Establishing a new company in a foreign land is a challenge. But starting a new company that provides photography services, while being a woman and while being in the United Emirates is double the challenge.
Meet Olga Leonova, fearless lady behind the camera. Nothing will stop her from providing the best services to the families all around Dubai, Abu Dhabi & Middle East. Because nothing can stop true passion.
How did you start wedding photography?
When I was a teenager, at 14, I already took my first shots. I also went to the photo school, using cameras with photographic film, hiding in the darkroom (or bathroom, call it how you want), printing pictures. I also did some modeling and studied again in the professional photo studio.
What I always had was very clear - photography can be my profession. I also never could describe it as my hobby, it was more of an overwhelming passion, obsession. And, no matter where I went, where I traveled or lived, I always found myself being surrounded by people with a photography background.
At the end, I left my job (I used to work as a financial general manager for the company) and made photography my main career. One day I got invited as a wedding photographer, for 12 hours straight. This day changed it all - I found the true form of my passion and my calling.
What makes wedding photography differ from another style of photography?
I am convinced that wedding photography is one of the most difficult genres ever, if not the most difficult one.
First of all, this is a HUGE pressure, as a photographer has no right for a mistake. You can’t screw up, or screw up the light, or the background, anything. If there is something that will go wrong, it’s just your responsibility. It’s always a very stressful event, and I still feel like I am taking an exam, the night before every wedding.
I always come early to the shoot, sometimes even 1.5h earlier, to make sure everything is right and no accidents will happen. I will calm down only when everything is in order and shooting will start. It will come naturally to me.
Second of all, a wedding is always a multi-tasking event. Every wedding photographer should combine portrait skills with group photos, interior and jewelry photos, as well as being a true reporter for some live pictures.
For example, after dedicating so much time to shoot arab weddings in UAE, I discovered love for jewelry shoots, and it came so easy to me - I had to offer another option for the clients. Now we are cooperating with a lot of jewelry houses in Dubai, providing them with professional photos and videos.
Photography also can be physically challenging, not just mentally. For example, there are really big weddings that can take places in several different locations. Well, even the walk from the hotel room where newlyweds are to the restaurant sometimes can take up to 30 min. Carrying a lot of cameras can really be taken as a workout.
There are some shoots that can last up to 12-16h, and to move all the equipment you and the assistant have to be well prepared. Needless to say, I skipped gym for three days in a row after shootings like this!
What makes photos attractive?
Emotional engagement in the picture - this is what means the most to me. The emotions, true interaction between people - I do believe that’s the real value of any picture. Fashion shooting might be perfectly beautiful, but for me it might be “empty”, as there will be no soul. I will always prefer living shooting with sparkles of emotional response.
Do you like to travel?
That’s not the word I would use. I don’t like it, I adore the process, honestly. It feels like addiction, like a drug, if I can compare it. But, do you think there are people who don't like to travel? Photography has no borders, and opens up a horizon in front of you like you have never seen before. It’s the best feeling, to be able to go anywhere, to do some pictures. It’s like the sky's the limit.
What bride and groom must pay attention to, when choosing the wedding photographer?
I do believe every photographer can write a book about this choice. Me and my team created a whole brochure for the couples, explaining 13 points of the most important qualities of the photographer for the wedding. Send us DM, if you want to take a closer look.
One of the most important conditions is the fact that a photographer should be interested in your own wedding as it would be his. Every wedding is unique, so every couple should be treated differently, considering their wishes, ideas and budget.
Then - pricing. Oh, how many couples are picking the photographer according to the price. I would like to repeat one more time - photography of one of the most important events of your life is not something you are going to save on. Trust me, there is too much at stake. You don’t want to spoil the pictures from your wedding, you just don’t.
We all have our budget expectations, so we are ready to lower prices for a lot of couples and use different discount systems.
Make 100% sure that your photographer is showing you a portfolio, not just 20-30 retouched pictures in the perfect conditions. There should be at least two, maybe more full weddings, from beginning till the end.