What I knew immediately (when meeting this ray of sunshine for the first time): Just how contagious her positive energy and smile are and how much she would inspire me moving forward.
What I didn’t know: Just HOW quickly she would become not only one of our favorite vendors but also a dear friend.
Introducing: Nabeela from Nabeela Huda Photography. A young, ambitious, and extremely talented photographer, based in Abu Dhabi. But also the person who always lifts me (Eva) up and motivates me to keep going and chase my dreams.
Let’s start at the beginning: tell us a bit more about you, your work and what role you play in someone’s wedding.
I am a wedding photographer and I didn’t really quite realize how lucky I’d be to turn my hobby into a business. It really is fun when you enjoy what you do and what they say is true – if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.
I know by definition I am a ‘Wedding Photographer’ who photographs weddings but to me that holds a deep and invaluable meaning to what I do. I get to photograph and be in places during the most intimate times in someone’s life. I try befriend my clients as it’s most important for them to feel comfortable with who will photograph their weddings.
What made you decide to become a (wedding) photographer?
I actually wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a wedding photographer! I did and continue to do portraits and lifestyles before I even considered weddings. One day I decided to join my friend in shooting her client’s wedding as a second photographer and oh my – was that an exhilarating experience! In the limited amount of time that you have, you have to scurry for shots, teleport from location to location and flip a terrible lighting condition to something more favorable. It tests your creativity and your resilience but seeing your photos hung on their walls – it was absolutely worth the decision of becoming a wedding photographer.
What do you love most about your job and is there anything you’d consider your specialty?
I love that I can see different people celebrate their love in different culture and practices. Traditions mean a lot to me and I am always looking for opportunities to learn how people commemorate their unions. Coupled with this interest, I’d like to believe that I am friendly and I look to making friends with my couples for life. I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to shoot weddings and see families grow from two individuals to a strong unit of two, and now handling a cheerfully growing family. It’s moments like these that make my work worth it!
Let’s talk about timelines: can you run us through the most important timings of the day (photography wise) and what would you recommend they include in their shot list?
Since this can get long, let me just summarize what an ideal wedding day should look like:
Details: It’s a good idea to keep items that are personable to you and that you’d like to capture ready and in one place. I usually share a shot list with my clients to encourage them to think of things other than their bouquets, boutonnières, and jewelry. Things like holy scriptures, letters to your partners, grandmama’s gift, all of this adds such a sentimental value to the day.
Ceremony Setup: This bit doesn’t take too long to capture depending on the size of the location and the details, but it’s an absolute must that the ceremony (or reception area) is set up and ready with no personnel in the frame.
Getting Ready: This is my favorite part of the day and I always make an effort to learn the names and relationships of the close immediate families and friends to the couples. It’s comforting to have your special ones around fixing your tiara or bowtie, puffing your dress/suiting you up, or just to share in a few laughs. It’s the only bit of the day that goes slowly before the rest of the evening starts!
Ceremony/First Look: Depending on the type of wedding, I always look for a place to orchestrate my couples’ first time to see each other. This is as exciting for me as it for them. Just imagine, after months of diligent hard work, it finally leads up to the moment where you see your partner waiting to start their lives with you.
Couple Shots: Ideally this takes place an hour before sunset, after the first look with all the butterflies still in the tummy! If your love is a certain type and you don’t necessarily want cheesy photos (a request I get quite often!) it’s a good idea to talk to your photographer. I encourage some natural, candid, and romantic poses for my clients. Remember that most of the time these are the photos you print for your home!
Reception: Here is when the party starts and the shoes come off! I always like to be clear how my clients plan to enter and what they’ve planned for the rest of the party (i.e. are there vows and/or toasts, have they arranged for a surprise, when will we cut the cake, etc.). It helps me prepare my team to be ready in position.
Photos with Guests: It’s quite useful, though not traditionally practiced, always to have a photo guest list. It makes sure you don’t miss out on anyone who’s there to celebrate your day.
PS: Keep in mind that there will always be things out of our control so we should always buffer for time and ease into our day.
PPS: Different cultures celebrate weddings differently so the timelines may differ. As a natural light photographer, I always encourage, the day to start early.
What would your dream wedding setting be/What setting reflects your style best?
An outdoor wedding under the Tuscany sun! I assume that’s a little hard to get in the UAE? Haha! My style is best described as a natural, candid, and documentary style of photography. I like to record the moments like a fly in the wall without interrupting the sanctity of the events that unfold.
How would you describe your “ideal” couple?
It’s amazing how everyone is so different but what I’ve noticed from my best weddings is that I absolutely adore clients madly in love whose aim is to celebrate themselves and their future in their weddings. I enjoy when my clients tease each other and giggle like it’s the first time they’ve met. They are not shy to allow me to voice my creativity. I enjoy when they share their stories with me and take me on their journeys with them. It helps me appreciate their chemistry and photograph what is truly them.
Any piece of advice you’d like to give any couple out there planning their wedding?
Get to know your photographer! This person is going to be shadowing your whole day and you’d definitely want someone you feel personally connected to. It’s important you feel comfortable with them so that your love and your best moments are not hindered by awkwardness. If being in front of the camera is daunting, imagine a stranger up in your business!
No doubt in that: photography is an investment. Can you tell us why you think couples should never compromise when it comes to their wedding photos?
Photography is definitely an investment! After months of planning the tiniest details with your best friend, and hunting enough catalogs to find your theme, colors, and flowers, you want to make sure everything is recorded as it were. And although you can’t take all of these things out of the day, you can definitely preserve the memory on your phones, in print, and perhaps on your living room walls. You can relive the moments you’ve felt, the words that were spoken, and if you don’t compromise, you will always return to the giddy feelings of your day.
Do you provide any additional services (engagement shoots, albums, etc.) and what’s your editing/delivery timeline like?
Absolutely! Besides the engagement sessions, wedding albums for the couple and their family, I also provide a Consultation Service for all my clients. My 8 hours collection includes an engagement session and a premium handmade wedding album designed by us. Gallery delivery and album design are done online and the whole process, from the event date, can take up to 6-8 weeks before we begin designing the album, proofing it and have it delivered to your doorstep!
Do you have any favorite UAE wedding venues?
To have the UAE and it’s water in the photos, I enjoy Jumeirah Mina A’Salam and Park Hyatt, Dubai Creek. For a more green event, I love shooting at Al Barari, The Farm, and The Desert Palm. Luckily, pretty much most of the hotels are quite aesthetically pleasing!
What would you love to see more within the UAE wedding industry (trends, etc.)?
As a documentary wedding photographer, I’d like to see the tradition move from stiff, posed, portraits with backdrops shots (which seem to be a trend specifically amongst local clients here) to original, candid, in-the-moment vibes on the wedding day. It helps to have a wedding coordinator who knows how your day should look and can help bring individuality to your wedding that is true to you two.
How can interested couples reach you?
They can always get in touch directly by email, or check my work on my website, and on my Instagram.
I am also happy to sit with potential couples and consult.
Reach Nabeela at Nabeela Huda Photography:
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Don’t be afraid to spend on a lifetime investment!
Just like that when the day is over and done, only your photos will last your lifetime. It’ll be a souvenir to show your children and perhaps, grandchildren! Invest your time and finances in getting the right photographer who will do just that for you.