Pete DeMarco is an award-winning travel photographer and writer who has ventured to over 60 countries. His photos and stories have been published in National Geographic Traveler, CNN, BBC, inflight magazines, and more. Get his Free Lightroom Presets For Travel here.

Have you heard of Dubai? Of course you have. It’s a cityscape photographer’s fantasy land that rivals New York or Hong Kong. And it’ll have you drooling over your gear before you even arrive.

Here are 7 tips from 7 photographers that show you how to capture this city of the moment:

1. Beno Saradzic: Just point your camera and shoot.

There’s a good reason why most of world’s best time lapse photographers have either been to Dubai already or they are planning to pass by soon! To start, look at its skyline. You’ve got some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world here, including the 828-meter Burj Khalifa which dominates them all.

Seriously, this city looks like one giant set from a Star Wars movie. It doesn’t stop there though; you’ve state-of-the-art highway grids and interchanges and bridges which take your breath away. Then there’s the futuristic light-rail system which looks impressive to say the least, the giant man made islands, spectacular seaside structures and the creek that divides the city into ‘new’ and ‘old’ Dubai. There’s just so much to shoot there and there’s motion, moving shadows and reflections everywhere you look. It’s your perfect time-lapse photography city too.

Bottom line: wherever you aim your camera in Dubai, you’re almost guaranteed to capture an awesome shot. What are you waiting for?

2. Daniel Cheong: There are many great locations at ground level.

Glittering Dubai by Daniel Cheong on

In terms of locations, Dubai Marina offers great views from ground level, but security might be an issue near popular places like Marina Walk. Security guards don’t usually like tripods. You might get away with a Gorilla Pod. There are great views from many of the Dubai Marina bridges.

Near Burj Khalifa, again security is annoying now, so it’s very difficult to shoot with a tripod. There are also great cityscape views from the Palm Jumeirah Island (East & West crescent). No tripod restriction there.

3. Rustam Azmi: Shoot from restaurants or bars with high vantage points.

foggy Burj Startrail. by Rustam Azmi on

Dubai is an excellent location for both cityscape architectural photography and street photography. For cityscapers, try visiting rooftop restaurants such as the Level 43 roof bar at the Sheraton Four Points, At The Top observatory at the Burj Khalifah, or Atelier M restaurant. The problem is that most places don’t allow tripods, Gorillapods, or clamps.

All mosques are accessible for photography except for during prayer time, and many futuristic design towers in the marina are best for architectural photography.

If you’re interested in street photography, try the Dubai Gold Souq, fish market, and the area around Abra station.

4. Prakash Singh: Respect the local culture.

Alone IV by Prakash singh on

Dubai and the surrounding area is a photographers paradise for anyone who loves to shoot cityscape, urban, and architectural images; however, you need to respect the local culture as in any country.

Dubai is very free city and people don’t mind photographers until you invade their privacy. Don’t shoot embassies or any buildings with ‘no photography’ signs on them. If a security personnel or police does stop you, just be polite, and if need to delete the images in front of them and leave quietly.

Also, try to reach out to local photographers (in Facebook groups like UAE Landscapers for example). Not only can they help you with some good views, they can make sure you stay out of trouble.

5. Jimmy: Get accommodation with a view.

Long Exposure Over Dubai by Jimmy Mcintyre on

There are many popular locations to photograph in Dubai, most of which have been heavily shot. One great time saver, which will help you capture a unique image, would be to get your accommodation through a site like AirBnB. That way you can rent an apartment with a beautiful view, which is easily accessible to you at any time, and which few, if any, would have shot from before.

For example, in our first morning we were blessed with a rare scene in Dubai—a cloudy sky. We didn’t have to rush to any locations in order to take advantage of the moment. We simply walked to our balcony, took the shot, and then sat down with a nice cup of coffee.

6. Dany Eid: Plan your visit around the fog.

Wrapped By The Misty by Dany Eid on

One of the most exotic scenes you can see in Dubai is when you combine nature and architecture. Every year, usually between November and March, fog hits the city. It only happens a few times a year; however, my advice is to scout beautiful locations such downtown near the Burj Khalifa or marina area. The fog starts to transform during sunrise.

The best way to capture it is to go above 75 floors if possible. Most of the time I shoot on a long exposure mode by using a ND filter to get smooth wavy layers of fog. Also, one of the critical things is to access your location legally by having a approval in advance.

7. Pete DeMarco: Travel beyond Dubai.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque by Pete DeMarco  on

Don’t just limit yourself to Dubai. Abu Dhabi, an hour and a half drive south of Dubai, is a must see too. Don’t miss the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the most opulent and impressive religious buildings in the world.

A 30 minute drive north of Dubai is Sharjah. It has a blue collar vibe which could make for some interesting street photography. Another interesting thing to photograph there is the Sharjah Light Festival. For a few days in February of each year they light up a bunch of mosques and municipal buildings in colorful lights.

Finally, you can join an overnight desert safari tour and take some pictures of the stars and sand dunes.

What are your tips for shooting Dubai? Please share them in the comments below or let me know if you have any questions.

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