The first time I went to Dubai, I was struck by the stunning juxtaposition of drastically different realities. I admired the existence of traditional and conservative cultures side by side with opulence and Westernism. I gawked at the tall buildings and architecture wonders, just miles from towering sand dunes and desolation. My first visit to this distance land I just took it all in, admiring and being inspired. On my last trip to Dubai, however, I set out to take advantage of one of its striking natural elements-- the golden sand dunes. In fact, I stayed in Dubai an extra 4 days to sight-see and create 3 striking fashion editorials. This editorial, Dark Desert, appeared recently in Zink Magazine and was the first of my desert series of editorials.
We left the city of Dubai in the mid-afternoon and I asked the driver to take me to the largest sand dunes he was aware of. We began driving, first past the tallest building in the world (Burj Khalifa), then the buildings drastically shrank, then disappeared with only empty desert ahead. As we drove further from Dubai, we passed through a small tourist area filled with trinket shops and all things needed to support the sand dune tourism industry (places to change tires and add air to the tires, places to fix broken window glass, and more).
We drove in two large SUVs with professional drivers I had hired from a local fixer. When we passed through this town, suddenly we took an abrupt turn into... NOTHINGNESS. The two vehicles started driving into empty, open desert. As the dunes began to get more pronounced, the drivers chose to stop by a lone-camel. It was a great joy for the entire team to jump out and make friends (and even taken selfies!) with the camel. It seemed like a scene out of a movie-- the rich afternoon sun and the picturesque camel allowing us to say hi. While we were stopped, the drivers let air out of the tires to allow more traction and better control in the sand.
Soon the dunes started getting larger until we could see a massive, mountain-like dune in the distance. "THERE!", I pointed the drivers in the direction of this impressive scene. It was exciting as the drivers proceeded and allowed the cars to spin and weave in the dunes, kicking sand in all directions, zoom up and over steep edges of the dunes. Finally we approached my requested destination, and unloaded to prepare to shoot.
It was like a wonderful land. Rich colors and undulating sand. The only problem, however, was the fiercely whipping wind. The wind danced over the dunes, creating a permanent floating layer of sand that looked like ribbon as it traced the form of the dunes. This wind was a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing as it gave us movement to the hair and fabric in the scene, creating energy and excitement to the images. Unfortunately, this would be an enemy to my equipment! For this reason I choose to shoot almost the entire editorial with my Sigma 24-105mm 4.0 lens and tried not to remove the lens (so as to avoid sand damaging the gear). I also used my Spider Holster to ensure I never dropped my camera and that it was attached to my hip (next time I visit the desert i will most certainly use their new hand strap as backup as well!).
We shot until the sun dipped below the haze in the horizon, creating a diffused and soft look to the light. At this point it was time to head back and review the amazing experience we had just captured! Here you can see a BTS video of this shoot as well as the final images we captured. I was THRILLED by this experience. Don't forget to watch for my other editorials produced on this trip as well!
Behind the scenes video
Click to enlarge imagesClick images to enlarge
Delkin Snug-It Pro (weather cover)
Spider Holster (use code LINDSAY20 at to save 20% off at http://spiderholster.com/single-camera-system/)
Title: Dark Desert
Photographer: Lindsay Adler
Stylist: LSC Styling for 4Season Style Management
Hair and Makeup: Katharina Sherman
Model: Maya at Bareface
Look 1 - (pics 1-3, 5, 18)
Dore dress, Stylist's own necklace, Philippe Audibert cuffs, Vita Fede ring, Nashelle ring
Look 2- (pics 4, 6-8)
Viktor Luna dress, Laruicci necklace, Charmed Circle cuff, Gemma Redux cuff, Gemma Redux ring, Nissa ring, Nashelle ring
Look 3 (pic 9, 20)
Karolyn Pho dress, Joomi Lim necklace, Philippe Audibert cuff, Joomi Lim cuff & rings
Look 4 (pic 10-11)
Laura Bagliore top, Franziska Fox leggings, Philippe Audibert necklace, Gemma Redux ring, Laruicci ring
Look 5 (12-15)
Georgine jacket, Dore skirt, Stylist's own necklace, Gemma Redux cuff, Philippe Audibert cuff, Danielle Kallmayer ring, Phoenix Keating ring, Brian Atwood shoes
Look 6 (16-17, 19)
Samantha Black dress, Leka harness, Sugar Scout cuff, Gorjana cuff, Nashelle earrings, Laruicci ring