Can you believe after nearly eight years (yes eight! of those one or two years we said we’d give expat living in Abu Dhabi ago), we have NEVER had a nice family photo taken in Abu Dhabi?
In fact, we haven’t had a professional family photo with all five of us taken since our youngest was born in 2014! To say we were overdue a family photoshoot in the UAE was an understatement.
Our search for a great local photographer took us to Localgrapher, who provide vacation and local photographers for travellers around the world with a team of over 1100 registered professional photographers and videographers in 950 destinations.
Our experience using Localgrapher in Abu Dhabi
Our selected photographer for Abu Dhabi was Marija. Our appointment was made with convenience all online through Localgraphers website and then we arranged our meeting spot with Marija over WhatsApp & phone.
She was very flexible in moving our first appointment as we managed to choose an Abu Dhabi day when it rained! (Bearing in mind we get at most normally 5 to 10 wet days a year on the UAE!!) We easily rescheduled for a week later.
I warned her that the children were not being in a particularly cooperative mood (why?! Always when you just want them to dress nicely and smile nicely for one hour!!), but she was totally understanding of the situation and did the best to cheer the children up, do fun activities and not feel like they had to perform for her.
As well as some more set shots, she snapped away candid shots too which really helps when the kids aren’t cooperating and can bring out their personality more.
We started on the Abu Dhabi Corniche to get some great city skyline shots, then we changed location to Emirates Palace for a different perspective of the city at Marija’s recommendation.
Best time to take photos in Abu Dhabi
As with any photography, if you can aim to capture either early morning before the crowds hit or Golden Hour in the afternoon (but we know kids can be tired and cranky!) this is best, particularly for the wonderful warm hues of the desert and glistening skyline.
And it goes without saying, Abu Dhabi can get really hot, realistically late May to early October are challenging for outdoor photoshoots unless you wait until the evening.
Best Photo locations in Abu Dhabi
Note that some locations in Abu Dhabi will not permit the use of professional photography equipment, only camera phones. It’s best to check this with your photographer before deciding on a location. And remember to be respectful of others, avoid shooting others in the background.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The iconic Grand Mosque is hard to miss off your Abu Dhabi itinerary and utterly unforgettable as a beautiful backdrop. Just remember there are lots of rules within the Mosque about dress standard and showing respect. Entry to the Mosque is free but be very mindful of your behaviour. tripods are not permitted in many areas, just follow the directions of the security team.
You can also head across the freeway from the mosque to a place called Wahat Al Karama. This is a war memorial, so gain, utmost respect must be shown for your surroundings. From over the memorial waters you can capture beautiful reflections of the Mosque.
Emirates Palace is actually a hotel, not a palace, but it is one of the cities most spectacular and grand buildings worthy of a photo stop on any visitors itinerary but makes an especially beautiful locational photography backdrop.
Just remember there is a minimum dress standard for entering Emirates Palace, even if you are just coming for photos and not entering inside the building you should have covered knees and shoulders, including gents.
Most of the images from our shoot are from this location where you have the spectacular backdrop of Etihad Towers and Bab al-Qasr Hotel (that’s the shiny bronze building!)
Qasr al Watan
The glittering new Presidential Palace of Abu Dhabi has a grand home on the very point of Abu Dhabi island. The vast white marble structures and gold detailing make for a stunning photo backdrop. Do note though, commercial photography is not permitted without permission – see details here.
The iconic beachfront that runs along the length of the city for 8 kilometres is known as the Corniche. Beautiful beach frontage and manicured gardens set to dazzling skyscrapers, this is a popular and iconic spot to come.
Be warned though, as we experienced they are not keen on you using your professional gear around the main beachfront plaza. You should be fine along the extensive footpaths that run the length of the Corniche and in the beautiful playgrounds that surround on the other side of the road, you will get some magnificent skyscraper backdrops.
Emirates Heritage Village and the breakwater
For more superb pictures that capture both the history side of Abu Dhabi and the glimmering new skyline, from the Corniche head across the water to Abu Dhabi Marina and the Emirates Heritage Club UAE Heritage Village. Inside they have traditional dhow boats on the beach frontage, as well as traditional buildings and local crafts and falcon demonstrations.
You can continue to park along this stretch of road on the breakwater and pick your spot for the perfect Abu Dhabi city skyline shot.
You don’t need to head far beyond the city of Abu Dhabi to come to the rolling sand dunes of the desert. Our favourite stop close to town is Fossil Rocks, down a rather unassuming side road from the Al Ain Truck Road, (you can pin drop it on Google Maps!). The rocks are small and easy to miss, but up close they throw off some spectacular light at dawn and dusk, and just a few kilometres further along this road you will find some lovely soft white rolling dunes perfect for those running shots in the desert.
Bab al Bahr
The area is also called “Between the Bridges” of “Khor al Maqta” – the section of land off-island that runs from the Sheikh Zayed Bridge (the E10 Dubai Highway) in one direction to the Shangri La and Souk Qaryat al Beri in the other (Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street).
From here you get the most spectacular views over the Grand Canal back to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Best visited at sunset for stunning silhouettes, there’s a beautiful pathway that leads between the fancy 5-star hotels and several small piers you can place yourself on for that perfect iconic Abu Dhabi shot.
Why choose Localgraphers?
Operating from over 950 destinations around the world (as at Jan 2020), Localgraphers have a vast network of portrait photographers who are familiar with their local destination and what works best. We recommend using Localgraphers because:
- They have a worldwide reputation for locational photography.
- The convenience of online booking and online selection of your images later.
- Choice of photographers in each location. Most locations will list a variety of photographers so that you can choose the photographer whose style best matches what you are after.
- Videographer and photographer options are available.
So if you are seeking a professional photographer in Abu Dhabi – be it expats like us looking to capture those magical family moments growing up in such a beautiful and rapidly changing city – or you are on your family vacation and want to capture some stunning Middle Eastern backdrops, we recommend you give Localgraphers a try.
How to book Localgraphers
- For those looking at an Abu Dhabi photoshoot with Localgrapher, click here
- You can look up your nearest Localographer location around the world here
We will definitely be using Localgrapher again to capture some more holiday memories from around the world – yes I will finally actually make it into some more family photos!
Further Resources and reading
- 10 tips for capturing your best holiday moments with kids – advice from award-winning family photographer Lisa Ivandich.
- Best kids action cameras to capture your next holiday memories. – easy-to-use action cameras that don’t cost the earth.
- How to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – including our top photography tips.
- Best parks and outdoor spaces to enjoy in Abu Dhabi
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Disclosures: We were provided with a complimentary photo shoot in exchange for our honest views on the services of Localgrapher, as always all options are our own. This page contains affiliate links which may earn us a commission at no additional cost to you if a purchase is made. You can see our full disclosure policy and website terms and conditions here.