How JZ Aamir shot the GPP Sony PhotoFriday lead image

We commissioned Dubai based light calligrapher JZ Aamir to shoot our lead image for this year's PhotoFriday campaign. Check out what he had to say about how he got the shot, what was involved and see a bit of his workflow below.


"Ok so let’s talk about how I achieved this, there were multiple elements involved in getting this results as per the client’s request:

– Location

– Light Calligraphy Style

– Font Color

GPP requested to have a backdrop of Dubai, either modern with skyscrapers or the traditional Dubai culture. So my friend Jason Dalmeida (a professional photographer himself) and I went out to look for a suitable location a week before the shoot. We went through several locations as seen in the pictures below.

We did a sample shoot in Dubai Marina but I didn’t work out the way we expected as seen in the photos below, there were not enough reflections on the ground and it looked like Photoshop work.



So we decided to head to Bastakiya to shoot there. On the day of the shoot, we went there early to scout the location and take some sample shots. Tripods are not allowed without permission, so we tried to avoid using a giant tripod and kept the camera on mini tripod using elevated space around Bastakiya.



After several tries and regular visits by the security guards around the area, we realised that it’s almost impossible to shoot without permission. We had no choice but to head out to another location where there’s no problem to shoot without permission. Next stop: Heritage Village.

When we reached there we found out that most of the area was closed for renovation and there were barricades in almost all the areas where we thought we could shoot. Luckily we met one of the security guards in the area and he suggested the elevated space from where we can shoot, as it was the same place where other people have tried to shoot before so we thought we’d give it a try. When we reached there the beautiful view of the heritage village welcomed us. Now the real problem was if we placed the camera on a tripod, there wasn’t enough space for me to write “PhotoFriday”. The only solution was that I climb to the building in front of it with my lights to leave enough gap between the camera and myself.



I normally write the calligraphy in one go and try to avoid using Photoshop for any reason to keep my work as it was shot. But after writing “PhotoFriday” in one go we realised that there was not enough time for me to finish the words without overexposing the background. The solution was to get multiple exposures from the same location and later merge them into one using Photoshop.

First Shot: The background as you can see on the photo below. I had the results I was looking for so I informed GPP and it was time to head home and combine the images into one to complete the photo.



First Step: I cleaned up the background from the layer “Photo” light calligraphy using brush tool on it to reveal the properly exposed background of the Heritage village.



Second Step: Clearing out the background image using brush tool to reveal the properly exposed background image.



But the job here was not done, as you can see in the background the wind towers were not straight due to lens distortion at 24mm. I normally use Lightroom to correct that. Although Photoshop has lens correction, I find it much easier to do it in Lightroom. So the final step, I opened the image in the Lightroom. Final Step: After correcting the distortion and enhancing the background a little in Lightroom, the photo was ready.



The final was sent to GPP to add logos and dates. I hope you liked this post and read the process behind this image."



Check out more of JZ Aamir's amazing work here and buy your tickets for Dubai's biggest event on the photography calendar - GPP Sony Photo Friday here.

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