Tour Dubai ... in a flash [National, The (United Arab Emirates)]
(National, The (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) "I'm guessing your knowledge level of your camera is somewhere between very little and not much," Corinna Harrison correctly assumes as we begin our photography excursion with her company Hairy Goat.
Harrison, a 50-year-old Australian, is about to begin offering her sessions – which combine a masterclass in how to use your digital camera with a walking tour – in Dubai in November.
She previewed what they will entail by taking me on a brief sojourn around Deira port. As well as granting us a pleasant amble through the busy wharf, she also uses the time to further my understanding of my camera's functions.
Before we embark, she recalls the history of her company and her ambitions in the UAE.
Back in Australia, she'd held a number of jobs in the travel industry, from bus driver to tour guide.
After emigrating to the UK, she'd worked as a contractor for a construction firm before being made redundant when the economic crisis hit in 2009.
Rather than return to her home country, she decided to combine her tourism experience with her love of photography.
So, taking its name from the Australian expression "running around like a hairy goat", the company was born. "It means you're running around zipping from place to place, as this is what you do on our tours," she explains.
"But it's definitely different from running around like a headless chicken, because there's no panic involved."
Despite the somewhat idiosyncratic title of the brand, Harrison's perambulatory tours of central London are hugely popular, gaining top rankings on travel review websites such as Tripadvisor.com
But she hopes Dubai, with its mix of tourists and residents with plenty of disposable income to hand, is ripe territory for her first foray outside of the UK.
"I need to expand and get bigger than London, and get into markets where people have an interest in photography but are not sure what to do with it," she says.
"My initial expansion plans included other cities in the UK and Europe. But the recession and the Eurozone crisis over there put me off. Over here in the UAE, people do have plenty of cash."
Perhaps because of this wealth, she believes there are numerous people who have purchased top-of-the-range photographic equipment, yet have never learnt how to use it properly.
"A lot of people buy these really expensive cameras with the dream that they're going to become a fantastic photographer, but then they just end up using the auto setting for all their shots," she says.
"They're still letting the camera control them. If you're going to spend all this money, you should really make an effort to learn how to use your camera."
The instruction manuals that come with the cameras, however, are often incomprehensible to the layman. "I gave up reading my camera's manual after about page 10," she jokes.
"Even if you read the manual cover to cover, or reading photography magazines or books, or watch YouTube clips, quite often you're still totally in the dark about your camera.
"But to have somebody standing there ... to guide you, for 95 per cent of people, this is the best way to learn," she believes.
Hence, as we photograph the workers loading and unloading cargo from the dhows harboured in Deira Creek, she talks me through how adjusting aperture and shutter speed can alter our snaps.
And while my Nikon D5100 does not really have the lens to take professional-level pictures, I definitely have a more complete knowledge of how a camera functions.
"Most people's problems with photography is that they let the camera control them. If you use auto, you're only going to get the shot you want about 40 per cent of the time.
"But the camera isn't a mind-reader, it needs to be told what to take. As long as you remember you're in control of your camera and pay attention to the light conditions, you should be able to take some great photos."
• For more information about the tours, visit www.hairygoat.net
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