Daniel Cheong: capturing the majesty of Dubai's architecture

mages from Ahmed Mater's 100 Found Objects exhibiton. Anna Seaman A&L story, March 2014.
CREDIT: Courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation
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Look closely at this image and you will see Dubai as you have never seen it before: completely empty.

The effect was achieved through a photography technique, where Daniel Cheong used an especially long exposure and chose the hour just before sunset, to give the sky the glowing effect.

It is one of 35 stunning photographs on display until the end of the month at the Alliance Française in an exhibition called Dubai of Lights and Dreams.

Making use of the city's occasional foggy nights and the plethora of high vantage points and sweeping architectural vistas, Cheong has managed to capture the city in a way that allows viewers to feel emotionally attached to the cityscape.

"My approach to photography is very technical but I also rely a lot on intuition," says Cheong, who is a full time project manager for a telecommunications company. "I'm also drawn to architecture of new buildings, it is something I've been interested in since I was a child."

Cheong, who is French-Mauritian, has lived in Dubai for eight years and has built up a reputation as one of of the most talented cityscape photographers, despite keeping it as only a "hobby".

Sheikh Zayed Road made to look like a computer's mother board. Image by Daniel Cheong. Courtesy of the artist

To take his images, which also feature views of the city that look as if they come from a futuristic movie, he has to find spots on rooftops, skyscrapers, friend's apartments and once, even a Wild Wadi waterslide.

"I definitely monitor the weather and look for places to shoot from," he says. "Most of the time I plan shots in my head for a long time before I actually achieve them."

Cheong was approached by Hubert Sévin, the new director of the Alliance Française for this exhibition that opened on February 2nd, for what is his first solo show in a gallery context.

"Daniel has an amazing talent that combines great technical skills with an incredible photographer's eye and it was ideal for us because we like to combine the French with the local," says Sévin.

"This is the first time I've seen my images printed so large and I am also learning more about my work by seeing this exhibition," concludes Cheong.

Dubai of Lights and Dreams runs until February 26th at Alliance Française in Oud Metha, Dubai. For more info visit: www.afdubai.org

The Burj Khalifa pierces the clouds on a particularly foggy night. Image by Daniel Cheong. Courtesy of the artist.