Dubai photographer takes free farewell portraits for unemployed leaving UAE
Paula Hainey giving expat families a final memento of the country they called home
PICTURES MAY BE worth a thousand words, but memories are absolutely priceless believes Dubai photographer Paula Hainey. Her freelance lifestyle and wedding picture business is built upon capturing that eternal perfect moment and, while the Brazilian's latest venture may be tinged with melancholy, she is again dedicating her valuable time to helping families preserve a glimmer of joy in what must be a distressing period.
Ten days ago Hainey posted a message on three expat social media groups offering her professional photo shoot services free-of-charge to anyone who has been directly affected by Covid-19's impact on the jobs market and has no choice but to return home. The response was overwhelming.
"My inbox now has over 200 messages," Hainey told City Times. "Every time I open it I have 50 to 60 more requests."
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Paula Hainey is a Dubai-based photographer who is dedicating her valuable time by offering free family farewell photo-shoot services to expat families leaving Dubai because of covid-19. A lifestyle specialist photographer, Paula moved to Dubai from Brazil 8 years ago. You can reach her via her instagram account @paula_hainey_photography . . Video by @zubina_ahmed
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Every weekday from now until the end of July the artist, who has called the UAE home for eight years, will be taking recently unemployed persons and their relatives to Black Palace Beach in Al Sufouh from 6am-9pm for VIP camera sessions to immortalise their journey in the Emirates and perhaps provide an element of closure before they depart.
"A lot of my paying clients before Covid were expats who wanted a memory before they left. They always wanted landmark pictures. They (photos) finish a chapter," explained Hainey. "So when I heard of these stories of people leaving I thought, 'how can I help?' I have a lot of time, so I thought I'd offer it for a bit. I didn't know it was going to go this far."
Beginning to act on bookings last week, Hainey meets four groups on the shoreline from sunrise and each receive a 20-minute session on the house. Normally costing Dhs1500, the photos are immediately edited and back with their subjects within two days.
"It's a shorter version. Usually clients will get a full hour of shooting, but I have so many to do back-to-back," Hainey said. "I'm doing everything as quickly as possible. Ordinarily the process would take about a week."
Hainey revealed out of the first batch of sittings around 80 per cent were senior, thus more expensive, laid-off employees who have been in the UAE for many years. "Their kids were born here. That's the sad part," she said.
Moving through the requests in the order they arrive, Hainey said she hopes to complete every family's wish before next month's deadline.
"I'll go through them all throughout summer. I don't know the reality of how many I will get through.
"I'm also still accepting paid work on the weekends. Some people have come forward and asked to do paid sessions because of what I'm doing. It's not the reason I do it, but it's nice."
What made you take up this project?
"Just like everybody else, I've been affected by Covid. My job is mostly on site, so I haven't had much to do for the last two months. I kept hearing stories of people being let go by their companies. If you lose your job you have to return home.
"I initially did free sessions for friends about two weeks ago. My friends started telling their friends who wanted to do pictures too. Then I thought to offer it over Facebook."
You can get in touch through Hainey's instagram account: @paula_hainey_photography. Send a message and she will try to get to you.