THE MAN BEHIND THE UAE’S MOST INNOVATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO
Some people remember the studio on Jumeirah Beach Road, some have visited his studios in England, some know him through the luxurious Palm Jumeirah studio, some have had their children’s images captured through the schools division and some aren’t even sure if he actually exists! Let’s dispel this myth – he not only exists but is one of the most revered photographers in the world.
Stu currently holds the title of UK Master Photographer of the Year and holds several other awards for Fine Art and Portrait Art Fashion at the recent MPA (Master Photographers Association) awards. Among other awards Stu picked up the International Photographer of the Year in 2010 and won the Architectural Photographer of the Year for his works on the Burj Khalifa.
Stu’s expertise in the industry led Sheik Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum to personally invite Stu onto his board of HIPA, the UAE’s most prestigious awards ceremony for photography which he has held since 2011.
We interviewed Stu to find out what drives him to excel in all areas of photography . . . .
When did you first come to Dubai and how has it changed?
I first arrived in Dubai in 2006. I felt at the time that there was a huge gap in the market for high end photography and so I opened my first studio on Jumeirah Beach Road. Dubai is a totally different place to when I arrived, it’s almost unrecognisable. New roads, buildings and even towns are popping up everywhere and it truly is an international hub for business now.
Do you have a particular ethos when it comes to your style of photography?
I believe that all my images have my hallmark on them, but in order to succeed in this business it’s all about offering high quality, innovation and more important than anything is understanding what the customer actually wants from their shoot. Too many photographers these days have a particularly fussy style and insist on projecting their art onto their customers without actually listening to what the customer wants.
Other ‘photographers’ are in the game because they think it offers high profit margins. Trust me when I say if the photographer is doing his/her job properly then the margins are very slim. So photographers tend to cut corners on quality of imagery and then products such as frames. Others are just amateur photographers with an ego and high prices. I find that people will spend money on photography if it’s creative, unique and of the highest quality.
What advice do you have for people that are looking to have a shoot taken?
Reputation is everything. You do not become a big brand or company if what you are offering is cheap tat and expensive prices. If a studio is offering a crazily cheap shoot price then they are more than likely going to sting you afterwards for images and framing. Companies that have this ethos are more than likely to have poor quality products too as the emphasis is on high profit from each sale.
My other piece of advice is stay away from freelancers. Although there are some very good ones out there, you will have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince. Why risk this with your family’s memories? It will end up being a lot more costly than if you actually went to a reputable studio. Always remember that you pay for what you get!
How do you respond to those that may suggest that Stu Williamson Photography is expensive?
This is a misconception based on those who haven’t researched prices in comparison to our competitors. In terms of studio pricing we offer the highest quality products with a 2 year guarantee. If these products falter in any way we will replace in full. We offer a range of shoots and products that actually fit all budgets and the world class quality and innovation is guaranteed.
Our framing products are made from the highest quality Italian moulding imported from Europe and should last decades, even in the heat of Dubai. Our photography is totally unique to any other photographer as is our luxury boutique studio on the Palm. Our prices are in line with other studios but our product and experience from start to finish is from a different planet compared to others.
Where else can you valet park for free at a photography studio?
All our photographers are fully trained by me to international levels of excellence and we continue to be innovative with our styles. We work tirelessly to be the innovators in the market and believe that our product is totally unique to any other studio in the U.A.E. I challenge anybody to come to our studio at Fairmont the Palm and you won’t be disappointed with the experience from start to finish.