Dubai photographer reveals how he was inspired by Sheikh Hamdan
Raihan Hamid reveals how a Dubai royal’s Instagram page stoked his creative impulses.
As Steve Jobs once said, the only way to do great work is to love what you do. A simple mantra to become successful - known to many, achieved by few. Among the latter is Raihan Hamid, a licensed Dubai photographer capturing the city through his lenses.
Be it sunset on the beach, or a mysteriously attractive view of the skyscrapers at Sheikh Zayed Road covered in fog, Raihan has captured all moments that are, now, gone forever. Born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 1997, Raihan and his family moved to Dubai when he was 3. Growing up in the city, the 24-year-old picked photography as his hobby in school and went on to become a shutterbug.
In 2015, he decided to share his captures on his Instagram page (@raihanhamid_photography), which now boasts over 55,000 followers. As an avid photographer, Raihan also edits pictures and creates reels - short Instagram videos - with some even crossing a million views.
Raihan always wanted to take pictures of Dubai, the architecture of the city he grew up in and fell in love with. His inspiration? None other than Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai. “As soon as I saw his page which was filled with Dubai photographs, I felt connected, inspired, and motivated at the same time,” Hamid said in a conversation with City Times.
“I would say I am his biggest fan,” added Raihan, who even has the Crown Prince as his phone wallpaper and hopes to meet him soon.
Once Raihan found his inspiration, a normal day for him would look like this: wake up, grab the camera, and just shoot. But, of course, it was not easy for Raihan to visit the skyscrapers initially. Acquiring special permissions and paperwork without a professional license is as hard as convincing your parents for something that you know is right, but they may be doubtful of. Regardless, Raihan found his way and before he knew it, he was leaving his audience amazed with the stunning captures of the skyscrapers on the main artery of the city - Sheikh Zayed Road.
As Raihan started collaborating with influencers for photoshoots, he got his big break. One fine Saturday morning in early 2019, Raihan received a phone call from Rashed Belhasa’s manager who urged the photographer to reach the Belhasa farm as quickly as possible. There, he made the acquaintance of Rashed and his father Saif Belhasa. “I was confused with everyone around and wondered what was going to happen,” Raihan said. “But I knew famous people visit that farm often.”
Raihan was appointed as the sole photographer for whatever was supposed to happen at that farm. Soon after, he received his biggest-ever surprise: Lionel Messi arriving at the farm. And, as the Argentine, accompanied by his family, received the grand tour, Raihan’s job was to capture those moments. “I was stunned, shocked beyond belief,” Raihan recalls, adding it was one of the best moments in his life.
His shock doubled when French footballer Paul Pogba also made a grand appearance at the farm. Among the guests, Spanish footballer Cesc Fabregas’s family was also present.
After that day, things changed for the better for Raihan, who shot to fame following the Belhasa farm event. Famous influencers in Dubai like Mo Vlogs, Lana Rose, and many others started reaching out to Raihan for paid collaborations at picturesque locations across the city, with many opting for rooftop venues.
RISKS OF ROOFTOP PHOTOSHOOT
Conducting photoshoots at rooftops is never an easy task. Both the photographer and client have to be extra careful while shooting at such heights. “Any rooftop I shot on, there was a security guard present at all times,” Raihan revealed. “Although it was risky, I enjoyed the thrills. It was more like an adventure for me.”
While playing the role of a shutterbug at the Belhasa farm was certainly one to remember, Raihan’s best moment in his photography career is one involving his inspiration. One fine day, Raihan received a notification: faz3 (Sheikh Hamdan) liked your picture. And, it was at that time that Raihan was left with a sense of jubilation. “That pushed me to take more pictures of Dubai from every angle I could,” Raihan said, adding that he started investing a great deal of time in learning more about photography.
BEST PLACES TO SHOOT
For Raihan, his favourite things to shoot in Dubai are the iconic Burj Khalifa and the fog-laden skyscrapers along Sheikh Zayed Road. “I have taken pictures of Burj Khalifa from every possible angle except for the top view, which I will take soon, as I recently got a drone,” he reveals.
During the pandemic, Raihan’s photography was put on hold as the entire world went on lockdown. “I get most photoshoot inquiries from tourists, and when travel restrictions took place, my photography was put on hold,” Raihan said.
However, he started editing pictures at home for his clients. “Those 4-5 months of lockdown were really tough, but things started to open slowly and now I am getting back at it,” he added.
Raihan aims to start his own production house in the future. For now, he has created a separate Instagram page where he shares pictures of his commercial work. The 24-year-old wants to provide photography services like wedding shoots, brand shoots, and events.
His ultimate goal, however, remains to work for, or with, Sheikh Hamdan.