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Into the Abyss

On the morning of October 5th 2015, Dubai was engulfed by the morning fog. A pleasure to photographers on the roof or people living in high-rises but the complete opposite for people commuting below. I had a new vantage point to shoot the fog from that morning – I was super excited.

Got to the roof at 6:00 am and it was all mine for about an hour until a group of window cleaners show up with helmets and harnesses. They were soon going to scale down the building’s facade. While they prepared, I carried on shooting the skyline in the fog. In my mind I imagined what the images would look like of them scaling down the building with the fog below them- I could not wait. This is something that does not happen unless planned. This was co-incidence.

The opening shot of the series, a good few seconds of the men on the ledge of the building tightening their harnesses before they went down, reminds me of the image taken in 1932 of a few construction workers enjoying their lunch on a beam with the Manhattan city as the backdrop.

With these men dangling 50 stories above ground and with the fog below, I couldn’t believe the images. On the other side of the building there were 3 men scaling down together. Trusting autofocus and barley able to see the live view, I put my hand over the ledge pointing down. Not to mention the nature of their job is risky so I wasn’t trying to get their attention. Luckily the person in the middle looked up for a second – that was the shot 🙂

I would say that these images were my favorite from the morning among the typical Dubai Fog images.

This shot/series has been on my hard drive for a year and a half now. I didn’t feel it was time to show it to the public. With the theme “The Challenge” for the HIPA’s 6th season (2016), I submitted the first image. Unfortunately the image did not win any prizes that season, but it did make it to the finals.

Last year, I submitted the first image to on of the YourShot entries on National Geographic. It was selected and published in one of the Daily Dozen. And to add to that, editor Matt Adams left an editor’s note: “I usually see images of Dubai shot from above with the city buildings shooting out of the clouds below. This image adds a nice human element to the photograph as the window cleaners prepare for their day of work scaling buildings. Great work composing this scene with the city in the background.”

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