Behind-The-Scenes of an F1 Fashion Shoot

Abu Dhabi had some serious Formula 1 fever this November. Abu Dhabi was the final destination in the Formula 1 Grand Prix and it was also the deciding race. In the run-up to the event, M Magazine’s fashion photographer Tina Chang and fashion director Katie Trotter brainstormed on how to produce an F1 Fashion shoot without the sexy femme sprawling herself on generic cars. Deepthi Unnikrishnan, our other multimedia producer, and I spent the day in the Yas Hotel and on the Yas Marina Track filming everything that went into this fashion shoot. The whole team, especially Tina Chang were SO much fun to work with. They are such a great team and feed and play off each other’s ideas so well.  The model, Bronx, looked absolutely stunning. The stark contrast of the model’s red outfits were brilliant, we really had to pace ourselves with shooting her, just because she looked so great.  I also got to drive my car on the track, probably the first and last time that will ever happen.

Hissa Hilal’s Poem Against Extremism

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Hissa Hilal, right after she made news headlines all over the world through the Abu Dhabi TV Show, Million’s Poet.

The people of the Arabian Gulf have a deeply rooted century-old tradition and a love for reciting poetry. In an effort to revive this beautiful art, The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage launched a reality TV show (very much like American Idol) named Million’s Poet.  Poets compete from all over the Gulf region, writing and reciting various forms of bedouin and arab poetry. The winner of the show receives 1 Million Dirhams.

Hissa Hilal, a Saudi housewife, stood up on a podium and recited a poem in front of millions of viewers. This poem openly attacked a Saudi cleric for his “ad hoc” fatwas; naturally the poem instantly sparked controversy in Saudi Arabia. Some viewers praised her for her courage, but some also criticized her for speaking publicly and “attacking Islam”. Hissa also received death threats.

As the show is shot in Abu Dhabi, we managed to get Hissa to come into our studio to recite the poem herself.  She’s definitely one of the bravest more inspiring and warmest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Talking to her firsthand, I could see the hope she had for positive reform in her country.

If you’re wondering how those dreamy shots came to be, some shots in this video were shot with lensbaby on a Canon 5DMKII.

Holi Festival of Colors in Dubai

This was by far the most fun I have ever had on a shoot. Deepthi Unnirkrishnan, and Edythe Mcnamee, the other two multimedia producers came along for just for kicks.  We ended up wrapping up the Canon video camera as much as we could with cello tape, in fear of the powdered colors that may pour into the lens and nooks and crannies of the camera. We then arrived onto the scene wearing (as we should) white t shirts. The whole vibe on the beach was absolutely fantastic, powdered colors everywhere, random people coming up to us and rubbing hot pinks, oranges, blues and greens onto our faces and t-shirts.  Everyone there was having a great time. Definitely aiming to shoot Holi in India in March 2011 with the Canon 5D MKII.