Oryx – Behind the Fashion Scene

Each month Oryx produces a fashion shoot for its sister publication, Oryx Premium.
The social heart of Doha, Souq Waqif is known for its buzzing atmosphere, restaurants, and cafés for watching the world go by, and merchants trading fine silks, carpets, spices, textiles, antiques, musical instruments, and Arabian oud perfumes.

There has been a souq on this site for centuries. Recently restored, Souq Waqif features mud-rendered shops, exposed timber beams, and some beautifully restored original Qatari buildings, and remains one of the most traditional marketplaces in the region.

Inspired by Souq Waqif’s unique location, rich history, and vibrant atmosphere, we headed there for Oryx Premium’s latest fashion shoot, and recorded a behind-the-scenes experience of the photoshoot.

The man behind the camera is Toufic Araman, Founder of ASTUDIO digital marketing agency one of the leading fashion photographers in Qatar and the Middle East. Toufic’s vast experience in fashion photography has made him one of the most sought after photographers of fashion designers and fashion magazines in the region. He and his team made the most of the beautiful location and the traditional products available at the souq, reflecting the Qatari heritage and spirit.

The photoshoot attracted much attention from passersby, as they witnessed how much work goes into capturing the perfect shot.

The production crew of the photography production agency, aramanstudio was able to transform the Colourful rugs, cushions, and fabrics from the souq as the perfect backdrop for the images in the heart of the cultural bazaar; while another shot in the souq’s narrow, winding alleyways provided an intriguing contrast to the bustling marketplace.

Toufic Araman’s keen eye on details, creativity and expertise in fashion photography has been reflected in this shoot. Capturing Qatar’s rich heritage through Souq Waqif and combining it with the modern twist through this fashion shoot.

In record time, Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels (SWBH), the luxury, five-star hotel collection owned and managed by Al Rayyan Hospitality, has made its mark on the Qatari and regional tourism scene.
With its gleaming, pristine hotels in the heart of historic Souq Waqif, the award-winning collection blends style and originality with modern design features while embracing Qatar’s heritage.

SWBH now has eight exceptional five- star designer hotels in Souq Waqif: Al Mirqab, Arumaila, Al Najada, Al Jasra, Al Bidda, Musheireb Al Jomrok, and Bismillah, embodying the ultimate in panache and flair with their perfectly executed architectural design. Now guests can experience the bustle of the lively Souq Waqif market before enjoying a charming escape to one of the eight exclusive gems that make up the luxury boutique hotel collection, offering state-of-the-art facilities.

With their own distinct character, each of the eight designer hotels provides its own individual style of Qatari hospitality. A seamless blend of authentic Arabic heritage and flawless contemporary elegance, the hotels all offer a luxurious retreat from the fascinating labyrinth of alleyways in Souq Waqif with their welcoming boutique shops and atmosphere from a bygone era.

UAE Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015

The UAE pavilion created a huge buzz as soon as it opened. Luckily, Inigo Bujedo Aguirre, renowned and internationally published photographer who is represented in the Middle East by ASTUDIO, a digital marketing agency in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Egypt, Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, was there not only to witness this honourable event, but to also document it through his amazing photos.

The 3-storey pavilion was designed by Foster + Partners, the same architects who developed the 80-storey Index Tower in Dubai Financial Centre and designed the second phase of Dubai Design District, the “hipster district,” to name some of its biggest Dubai architectural developments. In Abu Dhabi, one of its major projects was The Souk, a shopping centre with high-end boutiques in a traditional Arabian-style design located In The World Trade Center Abu Dhabi.

The UAE pavilion’s main theme was “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” and it was home of symbolical pieces, structure, and amphitheater. The curvilinear walls are 12-meter in height resembling the sand dunes that the region is well known for. The said walls houses an amphitheater that shows a short film entitled “Family Tree.” It is about a young girl’s journey towards finding the importance of conserving the world for a sustainable tomorrow.

It also had a secluded custom oasis within shaded palm trees that are also scattered around the pavilion demonstrating its importance to the survival in the UAE back in the day.

In 2013 Dubai won the bid as the host of Expo 2020, one of the world’s most celebrated expos where the future of humanity is exhibited. With years of preparation for the Expo 2020, we can expect to look forward to a well-planned structure with participating countries showcasing their visions for a sustainable future whilst imparting history. ASTUDIO, Dubai video production agency, is looking forward to this beautiful mark of history.

UAE Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015

Gleaming Art At The Fire Station

In lieu with one of Qatar’s most important cultural milestone, Dubai's digital marketing agency ASTUDIO takes pride in shooting at the newly opened Fire Station Artist in Residence, an art hub accessible for everyone that opened March this year in Doha, Qatar. The gallery welcomes painters, multimedia artists, sculptors, and the likes to showcase and be part of this incredible spot.

During The Doha Fire Station’s opening this year, Sheikha Al Mayassa bin Hamad Al Thani, chairperson of Qatar Museums, attended whilst praising the art space’s cultural importance. And while the whole structure of the old fire station was maintained, the interiors are modernized and artistically turned into something more beautiful than it was.

The Fire Station is indeed a residence for the local art community and visitors alike.

Early this year, Dubai-based fashion photographer, Toufic Araman and his crew: stylist Farah Kreidieh, hair and make-up Annesofie Begtrup, and model Angelica, flew to Qatar and had the honor of being the first to shoot in the said location for the May 2015 issue of Oryx, Qatar Airway’s inflight magazine.
ASTUDIO’s fashion photographers in Qatar collaborated with local Qatari designers, the produced images are one-of-a-kind themed. From the astonishing architecture to the 70’s feel to the gold and yellow touches made more pop, the Doha Fire Station art space added pizzazz to the already imaginative composition.

The beautiful architecture of the Fire Station’s tower echoed not only history but also ingenuity. The outline of the building with symmetrical square windows added character to model Angelica’s banged bob hair in the black and white photo.

Toufic Araman’s creative and photography virtuoso meshed well with the setting of this week’s feature. Thanks to the awesome team with ASTUDIO for the successful production in Qatar.

ASTUDIO is a boutique photography, video production agency based in Dubai that caters to clients all over the Middle East mainly in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon and Egypt.

On Assignment: Sunset Resort


To photograph the resort area of Sharm El Sheikh, in Sinai, Dubai-based photographer Toufic Araman who runs ASTUDIO, a digital marketing agency spared no effort. He lit the hills. He lit—individually—the area under each of the dozens of umbrellas on the normally dark beach. With an ingenious hack, I might add. He even lit the boat.

It was done as part of a 40-day shoot promoting international tourism to Egypt, which he calls “one of the best things to ever happen” to his career. Sharm El Sheikh (map) is full of resorts, frequently illustrated with predictable postcard-type imagery. But after scouting the area, he decided to go for something different.

“Photographers mostly shoot beaches with beautiful skies, sand and sea with a palm or coconut tree,” Araman said.

But looking for something new and fresh, he found a different shooting position that offered a view of the city in the distance at night.

“I showed them the sky at sunset, boat pictures and gave them examples of architecture shots lit at that specific time,” he said. “They want to sell luxury; luxury twinkles at night, they gave me the go-ahead.”

The shot was to be one of a dozen “destination” shots, which needed to work either with or without the inclusion of a large EGYPT logo.

Planning the Shot

He scouted the scene thoroughly, bringing along his head gaffer so they could be on the same page. All of the lights would need to be brought in, as Sharm is 700km away from any lighting rental outlets.
As for the lights, with the distances involved (up to 1.5km), there would be synching issues among other things. So the decision was made to go continuous. To give themselves control they used dimmers, manned by assistants with walkie-talkies.

The head gaffer had six assistants, so they divided the scene into zones. They pre-lit the hills, open areas, the pergola, the boat, inside the kiosks—and under every one of those umbrellas.

Each umbrella got a 150w bulb, and the entire “umbrella circuit” was connected to a single dimmer. This allowed him global control over what would have otherwise been a much more labor-intensive series of adjustments. The umbrellas were all fitted with bulbs (and wires buried in the sand) the day before the shoot. Other areas, away from high foot traffic, were lit the day of the shoot.

Complicating the shot (in addition to the beach being dark at night) was the fact that they could not clear the beach on the evening of the shoot. They had to trust that the guests would leave the beach on their own after sunset. They did, about 40 mins before the light mix that Araman who is the owner of a photo video production company in Dubai needed for his photo.

During these 40 minutes, assistants had to style/clean/arrange/align the beach lounges in the entire scene and adjust the lights. The crew accomplished this in 20 minutes, leaving Araman scant breathing room as a mixed light approached.

Out on the boat, things weren’t any easier. The sails were unfurled, so the engines were running to keep it in place against the wind. A chase boat (later Photoshopped out) with a generator and a 5k Arri was used to light-paint the hull of the sailboat. Everyone was on walkie-talkies, but the generator noise on the small boat made communication impossible. So they had to wing it.

Three 2k Arris were positioned on the big boat itself. They ran off of the boat’s onboard generator and were used to light the sails. Lots of images were made of the big boat to allow the retoucher the best possible odds of a nice final image.

Araman used a Canon 1DS Mk III with a 35/1.4 at f/11 at ISO 200. As the dusk encroached, he went to ISO 400 to keep a shutter speed good enough to freeze the boat. They shot tethered, evaluating the images on the monitor as they went.

Compared to the cost of renting big strobes, Araman notes, the continuous lights were cheap to rent. It was the crew itself—and the rental of the big boat—that soaked up most of the budget.

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