Twin Jewels

 

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The production of beauty images is a labor intensive progress that requires a full team of creatives as well as meticulous planning. The work starts way ahead of the day of the photoshoot, by planning, putting together a concept, and building the right team. For my latest beauty photoshoot, I worked with Sonia Martorana for makeup, Edgard Saliba for hair, and creative support from Amani AlShaali. My friend Nadine Kanso, an arab jewellery designer based in Dubai, was kind enough to lend us some of her work to incorporate into the shoot. The models for this shoot were the gorgeous twins, Marie and Lucile.

Shooting jewellery by itself can be challenging, shooting jewellery on models is even trickier. I needed to make sure that I managed the reflections on the jewellery, while still lighting it and the model properly. Before I start shooting, I visualize how I want the lighting to be and where I want the shadows to fall and then build it up one light at a time.

I created a video to give you an idea of how these shoots usually go.

 

And if you’re interested in seeing how the final images were created, check out these speed edit videos.

The mystery of Nunu, A photoessay.

My love for photography partially stems from my curiosity towards people and their lives: trying to understand who they are and what they do. I guess this could be the influence of my past career in marketing, where an important element of the job was to construct a story of my target audience in order to understand them in a way that would allow me to effectively meet their needs.

Photography is an amazing story-telling tool: through the camera we explore. Sometimes we pick up a thread and follow it, some stories are more obvious than others, and some leave you with more questions than when you started. On my last trip to the island of Mariah in Oman, with my friend and mentor David Nightingale and fellow photographer friend Catalin Marin, I noticed some curious graffiti in the main ferry port of the island written in Arabic simply saying نونو “Nunu”!

Nunu could be a nick name or a term of endearment or maybe a tease? As we drove around the island we found more and more of this graffiti, spray-painted carefully in red on everything from the walls of houses, the back of street signs, to rocks and sidewalks.

The day became an obsessive chase to discover the secret of Nunu. Every time I spotted a new one I would stop the car. David and I jumped out to photograph the new find: some were obvious, some hidden. This was an interesting process: exploring these visual elements in a natural setting. Each of us narrated the same story in our own tone and visual vocabulary. Our attention was pulled to different aspects of the surrounding environment, with different compositions and focus. Though photographing the exact same subject, at the same place and time, our narratives were quite different. “I will post a link to David’s take on this story as soon as he publishes it”

What do you think the story is behind this graffiti? Have you been to Masirah? Did you notice them? Have you come across anything like this in the past that you would like to share? Share your stories in the comment section bellow we would really love to hear them.

Inner workings

Every business tries to connect on a personal level with its costumes and stakeholders. Having photographs of your actual team members in their work environment in your communication material supports establishing a more personal relationship. It also fosters trust with your partners by giving an insight into the inner working of your organisation and an introduction to your team.

An office lifestyle shoot is also a fun experience for your team, with a memorable outcome that they can share with their family and friends, and in doing so communicate the organisation’s values and message.

What are your thoughts on office lifestyle shoots? Have you ever done one? What was the outcome?
I’d love to hear your experiences and stories on this.

Search for Beauty

In my latest adventures, I’ve been venturing into beauty and fashion photography. I’ve done Lifestyle, Product, interior and environmental portraits for a while and I decided to try something new.
I found that shooting beauty images is helpful in pushing my creative and technical boundaries by getting me to experiment with things I’ve always known, but haven’t applied. I think the reason I never applied those thing is that I was afraid of trying. I wasn’t confident in my retouching and editing skills enough to do it. I was never a fan of relying on a third party for retouching, I enjoy the whole process from to start to finish. Over the last few months I’ve been honing my skills to the point where I feel like I’m comfortable enough to produce beauty and fashion images myself.

I’m constantly learning new things, and I’m always keen on applying what I’ve learned from these experimental test shoots in client shoots. I’m excited to share some of the images I’ve created with you guys:

Adventures and Explorations

Over the last few months, I’ve gotten to experiment with a lot of different things. I tried to make the best out of the beautiful winter weather in the UAE, and do as many outdoors shoots as I can. As the season is coming to an end, I wanted to share some of my adventures with you guys.

It started with a shoot in Dubai Creek with Bader and Fatima

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This year, I decided I needed to push myself. I feared getting stuck in a rut without realizing it, I feared the thought of my work becoming redundant and monotonous. I tried approaching photography in a new way and open up my mind to different ideas from different people.
Like this shoot I did in Hatta with Raluca

 

 

I gained a new perspective when I decided to dive into collaboration with other photographers. I met Emirati photographer Amani AlShaali during an exhibition that we both took part of. The exhibition took place in The Empty Quarter Gallery, the most established fine art photography gallery in the region. I showcased a series of images from my rose water project that I had spoken about in this blog post.

Amani and I agreed to start working together. Her style is radically different than mine. Most of the time, she approaches her work with meticulous planning. But there were days when I woke up to beautiful clouds, called her up, picked up a model, and went to shoot. No planning, nothing specific in mind – just the need to create something amazing.
And we did, here is the first image we worked on together:

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These visual exploration exercises helped me stay fresh. I think they’re important in generating new work and keeping creativity going. I look forward to what the next few months are going to bring. But I think that now, with summer approaching fast, we’ll have to get creative indoors so we don’t torture models in 45 degree weather.

Stay up date with new adventures by following my Instagram account @issask

Help I’ve been robbed

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I’ve decided to tell you my story in the hope that promoting the fair use of creative work, protecting intellectual property, and raising awareness in the creative community, will positively reflect on the quality of work produced in the UAE and in the region and reflect on higher-quality work produced for public and commercial clients.

What many people tend to forget is that the creative community also has living expenses and costs associated with producing the work everyone so enjoys, and by exposing our work in the public domain we are not making it free for all to use and take advantage of. If we do not get compensated fairly for the work we produce we will eventually not be able to sustain producing this work or will not be able to survive doing what we love and giving you what you enjoy.

Stolen Photo

So you wake up one fine morning, you open your browser, newspaper or favourite magazine, and you see a photograph. For a moment you squint in disbelief as you realise that the work that you are looking at is actually yours! A piece you worked hard to produce and invested countless hours of learning, experimenting and contemplating to produce. Not to mention the investment in gear and equipment, maybe even a trip to a far-off place to actually take the photo. Yet someone somewhere (in my case a global brand) thought that they could take this work and use it to promote their business (advertisement campaign) and make money out of this promotional activity, without compensating you for your work.

This happened to me in Dubai last year.

Today, after almost one year of legally claiming my Intellectual Property rights from the people who used my work without permission, I have finally been compensated for the use of my works

Know the Law

Understanding copyright laws and the protection they extend to the work of photographers and content creators in the region generally, and in the UAE specifically, was one of the first things I spent time on when I decided to take up photography as a profession.

I hope that sharing the details of my experience will help you stand up for your rights and protect your intellectual property as stipulated by the local copyright laws.

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Be Prepared

First of all; familiarise yourself with the local copyright laws. You can find multiple free documents from local law firms online.

Here is one clause – out of many – from UAE local laws that deals with the topic of intellectual property:

UAE FEDERAL LAW NO. (40) FOR THE YEAR 1992 FOR THE PROTECTION OF INTELLECTUAL WORKS AND COPYRIGHT

ARTICLE (2) The authors of the innovative intellectual works in literature, art and science, whatever the value of such works, their type, the purpose of their composition or the method of expressing thereof, enjoy the protection prescribed in this law. Protection includes the following intellectual works: Books, booklets and other written matters. Works given verbally as lectures, speeches and sermons. Dramatic plays and musical plays. Musical works whether accompanied by words or not. The works of designing eurhythmics and pantomime. Photography works. Cinema, television and broadcasting work, and creative audio visual works, and computer programmes. Works of applied arts whether handicraft or industrial. Works of drawing and painting with lines or colours, architecture, sculpture, decorative arts, engraving, designs, geographical plans designs, and relief maps. Encyclopedias, sundries and selections which form, in respect of selecting, arranging and editing their material, intellectual creative works, Protection also includes the works for which the aspect of expressing in writing, sound, drawing, photography or motion.

Second; make sure you are the only person with access to the image RAW files, and that you have your image metadata in order with fields of “Copyright” and “Creator” completed. This is something you should be able to program on your camera. This way all your photos come out of the camera with this information already embedded.

Third; make sure your signed agreements are properly written in such a way that clearly defines the scope of work, the duration of the license and the exact usage of your work that the license permits. For example, specify in the contract whether your images can be redistributed or republished by the magazine in a future article, other than the one you have authorised them to use your photographs in.

Fourth; when any of your agreements is breached do consult a qualified lawyer who can advise you based on the specifics of your claim.

In my case, a friend referred me to Mahmood Hussain Advocates & Legal Consultancy. Mr. Mahmood and his team had in-depth knowledge of the local IP laws in addition they can think out of the box. Their strategic approach to the claim eventually lead to a substantial out-of-court settlement.

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Have a Strategy

I will walk you through the procedure in the UAE. It might differ in your country.

  • Keep in mind that the UAE laws including the IP law may, depending on the case scenario, protect you at the Civil and Criminal levels. Plan your strategy using the most suitable legal path to get compensated for your work.
  • Sometimes the infringement is outright theft when an image is copied, for example, from your website and used without any license whatsoever. However, other infringements may be less straightforward when, for example, images have been paid for but are used outside the agreed scope. Say the images have been acquired for internal use but ended up being used for an advertising campaign, or used outside of the agreed license time frame. These points bring to light the importance of clearly having a contract that defines and limits the usage of your work based on the price paid.

 

What Next?

  1. Collect evidence:

Screen shots, photographs, copies of material where your image or images have been used.

Screen shots showing metadata of the original files, negatives if these images have been shot on film.

If the images have been used outside of an agreed license, make sure you have copies of the license and any supporting contracts and documents.

  1. Consult a legal adviser

(whenever possible) before adopting any future steps.

  1. Send out an invoice

If confirmed by your legal advisor also, draw up an invoice for the usage of the works. In most cases an invoice coupled with a polite note is likely to resolve the issue. If this happens everyone walks away happy and you get back to creating more attractive work.

  1. Legal notice:

If your invoice is ignored or challenged then unfortunately you will need to resort to the legal system to secure your rights. Get in contact with a lawyer to help you with this.

This notice has to be registered in court and needs to be delivered through the court courier. Your notice has to outline your claim as well as the actions you expect to be undertaken to resolve this claim. It should clearly define the execution time line. The cost of sending the legal notice directly through the court – and not through a lawyer – is approximately AED 200. Naturally if you ask a lawyer to do this for you there will be additional costs.

  1. File a criminal complaint

Infringing Intellectual property is a criminal offence in the UAE, this means if found guilty the offender could also face jail time in addition to substantial fines. If you have not been able to resolve the issue after all the above attempts then you have no choice but to file a complaint at your nearest police station. The police will review presented evidence and present the case to the public prosecutor who will in turn bring up the case in front of a judge.

FEDERAL LAW NO. (40) FOR THE YEAR 1992 FOR THE PROTECTION OF INTELLECTUAL WORKS AND COPYRIGHT

ARTICLE (38) The person who published a work not owned by him without getting a written permission from the work’s author or his heirs or his representative, will be punished with imprisonment and with a fine of not less that (50000) Fifty Thousand Dirhams, or with either both penalties. The person who claims, contrary to the truth, that he is the owner of a work, shall be punished with the same penalty.

  1. Civil law suit

The outcome of the criminal case, if it is in your favour, will also support your claim if you further chose to do so with a civil lawsuit.  Keep in mind this is the expensive part and you need to consult a lawyer before you move ahead with this. If you have all your evidence in place and the client wants to avoid criminal charges you may even be approached to reach a settlement. It is up to you then to agree on a settlement and drop all charges or let the legal system run its course.

I really hope no one has to go through this, though it is unfortunately part of the reality of the market place especially out of lack of awareness of the legal rights extended to the artist.

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Conclusion

Make sure you have your own contracts in place and that you clearly agree with your clients when selling an image or producing work for them. Do this by outlining usage limitations and also note that you have a legal right to credit for published editorial work being in print or digital even if it’s paid for.

FEDERAL LAW NO. (40) FOR THE YEAR 1992 FOR THE PROTECTION OF INTELLECTUAL WORKS AND COPYRIGHT

ARTICLE (9) The author alone shall be entitled to decide publishing his work or art, determining the method of publication, and exploiting his work in the way she determines for exploitation. No-one else shall be entitled to exercise this right without a notarised written authorisation from the author, whomever the author deputised to do so, or his successors after his death..

ARTICLE (8) It is not permitted to publish, represent or circulate any work whatever its kind is, without fulfilling the following conditions: To attach with the work a certificate of origin showing the name of the author or the person to whom the right of exploitation has been assigned. To attach with the work a permission from the supplier or the owner for presentation or circulation showing the geographical area and place, wherein the presentation and circulation has been permitted. To attach with the work a certificate from the supplier showing the payment for the copyright whether by public performance, making models of the work, or copying it for distribution.

Alternatively

There are many other avenues where you as photographer can sell your work and still be protected, by not dealing directly with the clients for example. In the UAE consider associating with a reputable stock agency offering you a platform to reach wider market while protecting your work.

 

Issa

Dubai June 2015

 

Special thanks to my family, very close friends and the team at Mahmood Hussain Advocates & Legal Consultancy who supported me and believed in me throughout this experience

Thanks Dima Khatib for the review and edit.

 

 

 

Intimate conversation

My first live experience with tango was amazingly overwhelming…

I’m honoured to have the eloquent words of Dima Khatib present this series

Tango To Be

Don’t ask who I am
I won’t ask who you are

Just be with me now
And I’ll be with you now
Give all what you are
I’ll give all what I am
In a simple tango

And then you just go your way
A man I knew in a dance
Like women wouldn’t know in years
And I’ll go my way A woman you knew in a dance
Like men wouldn’t know in years
And we’ll say, one day
It was just one tango

You’ll take a little something from me
I’ll take a little something from you
The two little “somethings” will be
Part of you and me
Only Tango would know
What these little things shall be

So don’t ask who I am
I won’t ask who you are
Just dance with me as you are
And I’ll dance with you as I am
Together we’ll become what each shall be
Since that one tango
Of you and me.

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ازدحم المكان فجأة

تتداخل الأقدام والأذرع

وجوه هنا وأخرى هناك

وجوه تختفي في أخرى

قصص تتشابك ثم تفترق

حتى يصبح المكان مكاناً آخر

ثم تنتهي أغنية التانغو

فيعود كل شيء

حتى بداية تانغو جديد

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4 movments

The following images are part of the ongoing exploration of movement through dance project that I have been working on for some time now, I’m pleased that one of the series was requested for the 2015 Amman contemporary Dance festival.

This project gives me an opportunity to work with some very talented people, giving both myself and the dancers I work with an opportunity to push ourselves and explore new and creative ideas.

If you are interested in working together on this project or know someone who would be interested why don’t you get in touch so we can explore different ideas.

4 Dance Movements in the Jordanian desert

4 Dance Movements in the Jordanian desert

 

Amman Contemporary Dance Festival

Amman Contemporary Dance Festival

A bit of the Art in Dubai

Authentic Expressions 2015 Dubai has a vibrant and growing art scene, and events like Art Dubai bring global artists to both a local and regional audience. This year I was invited to cover Art Dubai from two prospectives; Marie Claire Arabia commissioned a story on female artists and their influence on the art scene, while Arabianeye invited me, along with two other photographers, to take part in a competition to capture our impressions of this festival. The first part day was straightforward as I had a clear direction from the editor and David J. Nightingale, a friend and mentor, was with me through the event. For the competition I decide to explore the interaction between the visitors and the different works of art displayed through out the show. Pick up issue 27 Apr 2015 of Marie Claire Arabi to see the my coverage of Art Dubai. Winning “Authentic Expressions” through social media vote, where I stood shoulder to shoulder with photographers I admire and look up to, was a great honour. _ISK6317-Edit_ISK6630-Edit_ISK6592-Edit   _ISK6528-Edit _ISK6421-Edit _ISK6779-Edit-2

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 53 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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