Beachroad Magazine meet up with Dubai based and South African born photographer Michael Kruger who shows us some of his work shot in and around Dubai and share his go to places for to eat and relax in our city.
Where do you like to eat, shop, socialise and relax in the community?//
As most of our shopping areas are confined to the Malls most of it is done in the various ones around Dubai. I’d say that my fav mall for shopping, eating and chilling would be Mall of the Emirates. I love the variety of restaurants and cafes there. Also one of my favourite ways to relax is to go to the cinema and I think the new VOX cinemas at MOE are the best in the city!
When it comes to the Beach Road area in Jumeirah my favourite hang out place to chill and meet friends is at Fahrenheit Beach Sports. It’s located at the Dubai Marine Resort and Spa. They have a great laid back atmosphere at the club itself, but also have such a great array of water sports to kick yourself into. They offer paddle-boarding, surfing, wake boarding and loads more. For me it’s a great place to sit back, watch the sun go down and have something cold to sip on!
Apart from Fahrenheit, I love taking photos down in Satwa, particularly at night. There is honestly such a friendly and great buzz to the place. I’ve done around 3 photo shoots there in the last 3 months.
In addition, I’ve also frequented the Surf Café on Beach Road a few times. Good food and close to the beach. Kite Beach is also a fav of mine. I’ve been here for almost 9 years now and I’ve seen huge changes to most of the beaches, but more so for Kite Beach. It’s been transformed with a tarmac car park, lots of great restaurants and food trucks. The beach itself has been transformed too. I love the skate park. I’m not much of a skater, but love to watch and take some photos. All in all, the Beach Road area has so much to offer us in Dubai and I love being a part of it when I’m down there!
Why Dubai? //
Dubai was a bit of an accident really. In 2007 my wife and I were living in London [into our 12th year each respectfully] when we decided it was time to go. I’m a native South African and she’s Swedish, so the UK wasn’t our natural home. We did a prolonged trip back to SA and decided it was off to Cape Town we go. We were prepping everything and getting ready to leave London in 2008, but whilst doing all of this a friend of my wife’s was living and working as a teacher in Dubai. She told us what a great lifestyle they were having. To cut a long story short, my wife, also a teacher, had an interview and was handed a contract within 3 days of the interview. This was in June 2008 and the next thing we knew we were on a plane to Dubai in August of the same year and her 2 year contract has now turned into a 9 year one! Amazing where life can take you!
What is your take on Dubai as a city and its evolution? //
What can you say really? Incredible, amazing, revolutionary, tolerant, extraordinary, are just some words that come to mind when I think of Dubai. Being here for almost 9 years I’ve seen some amazing changes. These changes have not just come through the general landscape of the city, but also in technology and the interaction of different cultures and religions.
Why should someone visit Dubai?//
If you’re looking for an outdoor lifestyle, with lots to do and see then Dubai is a great place to visit. If I spoke to a tourist, I’d say them, “Don’t just sit in your hotel or resort every day. Get out and see the sights and sounds of Dubai. There is so much going on.” The diversity of activities and things to see have boomed over the years I’ve lived here. Having the sun out all year round is always an added bonus for me too!
MICHAEL ANSWERS THE BEACHROAD MAGAZINE Q&A //
Michael Andrew Kruger
YOUR FIRST JOB?//
My first “unofficial” job was when I was still at school and on weekends I would work for a friend of my dad’s in his video rental shop. I got to watch loads of films…one of the perks! When I finished school my first “official” job was working in the press box at the horse races as a barman. One of the perks of this job…well, I’m sure you can guess!
YOUR CURRENT OCCUPATION?//
Professional freelance photographer and digital artist
WHO WERE YOUR EARLY PHOTOGRAPHIC INFLUENCES?//
To be honest I didn’t really have photography influences till later on in my career. My major inspiration to become a fashion photographer was watching America’s Next Top model. As a creative person it inspired me to push the boundaries and really go for it and not hold back, no matter what other people thought. Later on I took it upon myself to study some of the old masters. Helmut Newton initially was a huge influence on me, but also the classic masters like Horst, Irving Penn, Huene and Avendon. They became influencers and inspiration alike. I believe as an artist you should develop your own style and thought patterns, but understanding where your art has come from and it’s history can have a positive influence on who you are creatively.
WHEN DID YOU REALISE PHOTOGRAPHY WAS FOR YOU?//
Photography became a part of me at school, high school to be exact. I was in my mid teens and I had a fascination for it. My biggest issue was my parents, nor I, could ever afford a SLR. So I used to borrow one from the photographic club, of which I was a member, to learn. When I left school I was pushed into the army and creatively I went into hibernation for many years. In the mid 90’s I had a friend who was studying photography and media at University. She taught me so much. I was learning composition from her and even how to use the dark room. Sadly this was all cut short when she was tragically killed in a car accident and afterwards my photography went into hiding again. It wasn’t till almost 10 years later when I picked up a camera again and being able to afford my first SLR and then a bit later a DSLR it dawned on me that this was ultimately what I wanted to do in life. So in 2006 I studied fashion photography in London and the rest is one road of fabulous history!
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST SIGNIFICANT PHOTOGRAPHIC MOMENT YOU HAVE HAD?//
I think there were two. The first one was the shear excitement and joy when I received my first paid job as a photographer. I was like “I’m actually doing this! I’m a photographer!” It was a significant moment and it pushed me on. The second was later when I shot my first fashion cover for a magazine in Dubai. It was always a dream to have a cover and it was shot for a small independent magazine and we had garments shipped over from a designer I worked with in London. Looking back over 8 years ago now at the images, I still think they’re amazing and I love them!
YOUR GREATEST LOVE?//
Without offending my wife, it has to be my 6 year old son, Joshua. Besides them, food and films.
YOUR GREATEST FEAR?//
Leaving this world too soon!
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY?//
My earliest memory is happy one fortunately. I’ll never forget it. I must have been around 4 years old and I was lying drying off next to our swimming pool on a warm sunny day. My dad was mowing the lawn so there was that distinct smell of freshly cut grass and the hum of the lawnmower. Also to top it all off, I was lying on the on my towel looking up at a very blue sky with the odd fluffy cloud passing by. I remember watching as they changed shape. I believe that this memory and experience has made me an avid cloud lover. To this day I am absolutely fascinated and love clouds. I quite often take the time to photograph them when I can. It’s perhaps the one thing we don’t have enough of in Dubai through the year as a whole.
WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY?//
I don’t really have one or ever did I think. However, right now I’d have to say my dad is a bit of an inspiration to me. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease a couple years ago. Instead of it being a burden on his life, he has used it to change his and others around him for the good. He has in just two short years become the top fund raiser in Ireland [now residing there] for the disease. He has achieved amazing things all the while having to endure the disease himself. Hats off to you ol’ man!
YOUR FAVOURITE ARTIST?//
I studied art at school. I loved it and it’s all I lived for to be honest. It’s a tough choice, but I have to say that Salvador Dali with Edvard Munch a close second.
YOUR FAVOURITE PHOTOGRAPHY GALLERY?//
Dunno…I don’t really ever attend them. I did attend a history of fashion photography of Vogue UK in London some years ago though. Amazing!
IF YOU OWNED A GALLERY WHAT WOULD YOU CALL IT?//
Bit of a funny story, but when ever I’m shooting and when ever possible, I take my shoes and socks off and I love to shoot barefoot. I don’t know why…maybe it’s the African in me? Many people have commented on it and it always makes me laugh. So my gallery would be called “The Barefoot Photography Gallery”
IF YOU WERE NOT A PHOTOGRAPHER WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?//
Creative Director for a fashion label.
IF YOU WERE ONLY ALLOWED ONE MORE ROLL OF FILM TO SHOOT WHAT WOULD YOU PHOTOGRAPH?
Wow…tough one! I love combining landscapes of epic proportion and fashion. So one day I aim to do that in Iceland and this is what I would do with one last roll of film!
WHAT PHOTOGRAPHY DO YOU MOST IDENTIFY WITH?//
It has to be fashion, my first love. Why? I believe it to be the most challenging but also the most creative genre of photography.
WHAT PIECE OF WORK HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?//
I had to photograph and edit perfume bottles for client. Because of it’s reflective nature I remember having to shoot and reshoot the bottles numerous times to get it right. Editing was also a challenge. The bottles had to have that high-end finish. It was a great challenge, but in the end I put a smile on my clients face! Yippee!
PHOTOGRAPHY ASIDE, WHAT INSPIRES YOU?//
It has to be water and anything to do with water. I grew up near the sea and have always attempted to be near it. I was a scuba instructor for 8 years [1999-2007] so it’s always had huge influences on my life. I’ve done an underwater fashion shoot and am now planning a jewellery shoot in water, coming soon.
WHERE IS YOUR DREAM STUDIO LOCATION?//
I’m not the biggest fan of shooting in the studio. I prefer shooting on epic locations, but if I had to choose, it would have to be somewhere in LA. It’s the iconic city of studios and besides, lots to do on my down time…and…sadly I’ve not been there yet!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE JOURNEY AND DESTINATION?//
Someone just asked me this the other day. I’ve travelled quite a bit, but my favourite place would always be to end up back in my home country of South Africa. It’s my favourite destination with an enormous diversity of people and places to visit and absorb.
IF YOU COULD OWN ANY PIECE OF PHOTOGRAPHY WHAT WOULD IT BE?//
It would have to be something by Helmut Newton. Not 100% which piece, but something provocative of course.
IF YOU COULD SPEND A DAY WITH ANY PHOTOGRAPHER ALIVE OR DEAD WHO WOULD IT BE?//
Am I being a bit too obvious here? Yes…Helmut Newton!
YOU CAN SPEND A DAY WITH ONE OF THE FOLLOWING, WHO WOULD IT BE.
DAVID BAILEY, ANNIE LEIBOVITZ, STEVE MCCURRY, MARTIN PARR, DON MCCULLIN OR ANSEL ADAMS?//
If it had to be one of the above it would have to be David Bailey. His predominantly black and white body of work and portraits are inspirational.
WHAT IS THE LAST GIFT YOU GAVE SOMEONE?//
Christmas has just come and gone so my wife got lots of cool yoga stuff from me and my son who’s obsessed with Star Wars got a new lightsaber amongst other stuff from the films too.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED POSSESSION?//
It has to be my camera Nikon D800 and my favourite Nikkor F2.8 24-70mm lens.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE CHILDREN?//
Just be the best you can be and don’t ever worry about what others think of you.
WHAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT?//
YOUR WORST TRAIT?//
I don’t pick up after myself, so I can be a bit messy sometimes.
THE WORST TRAIT IN OTHERS THAT GETS YOU MAD?//
Arrogance! Thinking they’re better than everyone else around them.
YOUR FAVOURITE MOVIES?//
The Cell with Jennifer Lopez / Star Wars films and I’m a bit of a sucker for British Romcoms, my favourite being “Notting Hill”.
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE?//
It has to be Johnny Depp for me.
I grew up being a fanatical Depeche Mode fan. I owned anything I could in reference to them. Later I steered towards Gothic music and Rock music. So these are still my favs. I have to say though, the older I’ve gotten my taste in music is much more diverse. I like a bit of jazz and even some chilled out trance. So…yea…a mixed bag really.
LAST RECORD / DOWNLOAD YOU BOUGHT?//
Best of David Bowie – Amazing artist and taken too soon!
I’m not much of a reader, but I’m a big fan of Scandinavian crime novels. So the trilogy of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series is my favourite set of books to date.
LAST BOOK YOU BOUGHT?//
In Vogue – History of Vogue
THE CLOSEST YOU HAVE COME TO DEATH?//
I jumped half naked and intoxicated off Brighton Peer many years ago. Afterwards I found out how much broken pier bits, and general junk was under it. So I was lucky to have come out unscathed. Looking back this is probably the stupidest and closest thing to death I’ve done!
FAVOURITE TRAVEL DESTINATION?//
South Coast of Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa
LEAST FAVOURITE TRAVEL DESTINATION?//
I’ve not been anywhere I didn’t enjoy. So if I had to avoid anywhere on the planet it would be probably be KSA.
HOW DO YOU RELAX?//
I go to the cinema or go to the beach with my family.
BEACH OR DESERT?//
Beach for sure!
URBAN OR RURAL?//
Rural – I constantly need a break from this concrete jungle of Dubai.
CATS OR DOGS?//
Neither – I’m afraid I’m not too much of an animal person.
COFFEE OR TEA?//
WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?//
My son and all the weird and wonderful questions and things a 6 year old comes up with.
WHATS MAKES YOU CRY?//
I have to say I get a big lump in the throat when I see abuse of kids, particularly those caught up in the Syrian conflict. My heart bleeds for these innocent little people who are caught up in adult conflicts! It brings a tear to my eye!
YOUR MOTTO / MESSAGE?//
Don’t worry about how other’s see or judge you. The only true judge of you is yourself!