Samy Al Olabi is a photographer based in Dubai, UAE, who takes incredible photos of dioramas, miniatures and still life under the night’s sky. The photographer says what he loves the most about photography is that it’s a language that can be understood by everyone. “Through photography, you can freeze a great moment of time, or a breathtaking scene and share it with the watcher. You can deliver some deep meanings by expressing your ideas and concepts and convey them silently with dramatic impact,” writes Samy. “And from a simpler perspective, photography represents a time-out from the hustle and rapid rhythm of life. It is a perfect escape from the never-ending stresses of life.”
Samy got into photography years ago and at first, was shooting everything he found interesting, jumping from genre to genre. Eventually, the photographer found the magical world of Astrophotography.
“I was passionate about Astronomy since I was a child, and Astrophotography was for me a perfect match: it combined my love for astronomy, my love for nature and landscapes with adventures, travel, and camping. This beautiful recipe is just perfect for me,” writes Samy.
“That strange mix of fear, excitement, serenity, awe, sense of beauty, and meditation is something that deserves the long hours of driving and traveling. That feeling you get when you step down from your car, switch off your engine and the headlights, look up to the sky and are amazed by this endless count of stars… beauty that could never be put in words,” writes the photographer.
Samy says than in these places you can really experience and enjoy the sound of silence. “It liberates you from all modern life constraints and you are finally back to your real humanity, blending with nature and its beauty,” says the photographer. “You finally feel at home.”
Samy went almost everywhere across the UAE looking for locations to capture his beautiful photos. “The United Arab Emirates is a mix of two beautiful contradictions: shiny glamorous cityscapes and raw nature,” explains the photographer. “Basically, there are two types of landscapes: yellow-reddish deserts with sand dunes and some ghaf trees, or brownish rocky ophiolite (slices of the ocean floor that have been thrust onto continental crust) mountains with few green bushes and acacia trees.”
“And because cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi are so busy and active, they happen to emit tremendous amounts of artificial light, and this limits the areas with no light pollution.”
“But like any other passionate photographer, I couldn’t get enough of that. I have basically consumed all different landscapes with every foreground possibility; mountains, deserts, trees, lakes, roads, cars, etc. I just wanted more than that, I wanted to do something different,” writes Samy. “And my passion for conceptual art was always there waiting to blend with what I do.”
Samy started experimenting with some abstract ideas, mixing still life with astrophotography. “Every year (during the Milky Way season) I thought of trying a new idea/plan to start a new project. Blending a foreground from here on a background from there could be a solution, but it wasn’t my style and it will never be,” writes the photographer. “And above all, where is the fun in that? One year, I got myself a collection of mirrors with different shapes and sizes and I started capturing stars and their reflections. I called the project Parallel Universes.”
Next year, the photographer worked on a project he called “The Land of Nowhere”. He used miniatures to create realistic scenes that could trick viewers into believing they are real.
Samy is a collector of antiques and miniatures and has a small collection of them. He says that selecting the right miniature or object with the right landscape was a fun thing on its own. “An old abandoned fishing boat would suit the yellow reddish color of UAE deserts, and a country house would perfectly fit with the Al-Hajar mountains in the eastern region of UAE,” writes the photographer. “So I put everything I could carry in my SUV and hit the road.”
“The Land of Nowhere, it is the land where you can build your dreams and make it come true.”
“Even straight-forward still life and abstract art can blend beautifully with the stars. Meanwhile, light is an essential element of photography, and the darker the environment you are shooting in, the more valuable and more dramatic the impact your light will do,” writes Samy.
The photographer says that for him, mixing lights and shadows is mind-blowing, and is a great way of expressing art.
“Breaking the rules and thinking outside the box is something a photographer should always consider,” says Samy.
“Getting out of your comfort zone, doing something different, and breaking the trend, adding some abstract and conceptual thoughts to your photography is what will differentiate you from others. You do not want to be that photographer whose only aim is to hoard equipment and excel settings,” writes the photographer. “Photography is a form of art after all. And I am really grateful to God that I am doing it.”