Alex Atack looks at life through a different lens, stripping back the manmade glitz of Dubai to reveal his adopted hometown’s grittier, true colours.

Alex Atack looks at life through a different lens, stripping back the manmade glitz of Dubai to reveal his adopted hometown’s grittier, true colours.

As a twenty year old Press & Editorial Photography student at Falmouth University, Alex’s Cornwall location means he’s well placed to capture the UK’s skate culture – but his creative heart and soul lie in the UAE.

His portraits of  everyday Dubai portray a refreshingly unadulterated perspective on the glamorous Middle Eastern metropolis and reveal a playfulness in the radiance and shadow generated by the city’s intense heat.

When and why did you start shooting pictures?
Around four years ago. Honestly, I couldn’t say why. It just seemed fun. Like skateboarding, it was something creative to spend time doing.

What is it you love about film photography?
The same things that everybody loves about film photography. The way the pictures look, the way the cameras work. The extra hours developing and scanning; spending more time in the final process.

What are you passionate about outside of photography – and how does this inform the images you take?
Skateboarding, mainly. It’s kind of a cliché, and all skateboarders say this, but it’s true that we have a wacky way of looking at the world, of interpreting things in a totally unique way. Photography is the same, it gets you to be inquisitive and to look at things differently.

Who or what inspires your work?
Mainly, Dubai – my family’s adopted home. The essence of the city often doesn’t get seen, you see the exaggerated version of it on television and in magazines. Very little feels like an authentic representation – even in local newspapers. I hope that I’m a little more down to earth with my pictures, I’d like it if in the future my work could show a little of what Dubai is actually like.

As far as people go – Evan Collisson, for his photography and his skateboarding. Also Jim Mortram; his project Small Town Inertia is making real differences to the people’s lives, it’s incredible. On top of that, he’s just such a modest and genuine person.

What do you do for a living and how does photography fit into your life?
I’m still at university, so I haven’t figured that out yet. If I can earn a living through photography afterwards, that would be great. It’s likely I’ll have to work another job to fund it though, and that’s fine too.

How do you share your work?
Mostly through my website and blog. I’m still learning about the best ways to show photography, though. There are so many possibilities, you’ve really got to drill down to the essence of your work and figure out which context best suits what you’re trying to say with it.

In what way do you edit your reels?
Where editing is concerned, I think the more concise, the better. People have a lot going on and I’m lucky if somebody scrolls through ten of my pictures, so I always try to edit as tightly as possible.

Are you trying to tell a story through your photos?
I suppose everybody tries to tell stories with their pictures, but I’ve been shooting for such a short time, I’m not happy with any of my story-based work yet – you have to work on stories for years before you can really present a rounded, well-informed perspective.

Are your photos staged or documentary style?
Again, this is something I’m always learning about. It depends, one project might work really well as a portrait series, another might be better as reportage. Whatever you’re taking pictures of should dictate that.

If you had to take one photo that summed up your view on life, what would it capture?
Maybe just one of my friends – having fun and skating.

Check out more of Alex’s work at his blog.