How Can I Earn Money as a Freelance Photographer in Dubai?

4 Mins read

The Gold City, Dubai, is one of the fastest-growing commercial and industrial hubs in the world, opening its doors to entrepreneurs to set up their businesses in a variety of sectors. Additionally, the city is at the forefront of promoting budding freelancers from all over the world to set up operations both in the main city and in its so-called Free Zones.

Similar to many other businesses that have been set up all across the UAE, you can find many opportunities waiting for you if you choose to be a freelance photographer in Dubai. The city offers freelance photographers a large potential client base, business opportunities, and a selection of beautiful spots to capture spectacular shots.

Because of its massive profit potential, corporate photography Dubai is among the most competitive freelance businesses in the entire UAE. To earn money as a freelance photographer, you need to be an astute business person besides having the talent to take great snaps. A big part of starting a profitable photography freelance business is understanding the city’s unique entrepreneurial environment.

Have a Solid Business Plan

There is a well-known saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Before you set of on your freelance event photographer Dubai adventure, you need to do your math so that you can see if it is a sustainable venture.

One place to start is to establish what you will charge your clients for your services. For instance, if you think that your time and effort are worth AED 300 for each hour that you spend on a shoot, remember that every hour of actual photography needs about three hours of editing. This is something that you must factor in when doing your pricing.

You also should carry out your research and find out the type of photography services that are in the highest demand. Is being a wedding photographer in Dubai a good niche? Should you place your focus on the food photographer Dubai sector? Or could you be suited to something more exotic like maternity photography in Dubai? Does the type of freelance photography you choose require you to have a full-time studio?

Build Up a Professional-Looking Portfolio and Buy the Best Gear You Can Afford

No matter the niche you choose, you need professional training and experience. You should be able to demonstrate the quality of the work you can produce to prospective clients, so you must have a portfolio. It does not matter if you are one of the best wedding photographers in Dubai, if you cannot show your past work to prove it, you cannot be successful. Alongside your social media presence, having a professionally designed website is an excellent way to showcase your work.

If you are just starting out in product photography in Dubai, seasoned professionals recommend that you should have two cameras, two flashes, a couple of high-quality lenses, and pro-standard photo editing software to produce the best final results. You always need two of each of your essential equipment so you have a backup. Eventually, all equipment breaks down, and letting your clients down is disastrous for your baby photography Dubai business.

Take Advantage of Opportunities in Dubai’s Free Zone

If you want to earn money as a photographer, you should carefully choose where to base your freelance business. Dubai Studio City, Umm Al Quwain Free Zone Authority, Fujairah Creative City, and Dubai Media City are located in the Dubai Free Zone are popular for entrepreneurs who want to launch their own family photographer Dubai operations. Not only does the free zone provide you with the essential services required to run a professional freelance photography business, but it also gives you access to some of the region’s most reputable media hubs. Some of the services offered at these free zone hubs include:

  • Fully furnished offices/business units
  • Simple registration process
  • Easy licensing terms

For most of these free zone creative hubs, receiving a permit to carry out freelance photography work requires that you provide certain documents such as:

  • A copy of your passport or other government-issued ID
  • Your CV
  • A portfolio of your work
  • Business plan
  • A reference letter from your bank
  • A reference from a previous employer

These Free Zone hubs are a great choice if you are starting your business on a tight budget and cannot hire staff or rent your own dedicated office space as a new fashion photographer in Dubai.

Other Considerations for Professional Photographers in Dubai

It is important to note that, in the United Arab Emirates, you must obtain a local permit to carry out outdoor photography from the Department of Economic Development of Dubai (DED) or the National Media Council. Before you carry out any ground-level shoots in public spaces or take any aerial pictures as a freelance photographer in Dubai, you must fill out an online application for a permit. The entire process is straightforward, and there should be no reason for you to fail to comply with this regulation.

The only information you need to supply when applying for your permit is:

  • Confirmation of when you will start and end your photo session
  • Where the photographs are to be taken
  • The details of each photographer involved in the shoot

Although Dubai’s free zones are the best choice if you are not native to Dubai and just starting out as a freelance family photographer in Dubai due to simpler regulatory requirements, to operate in mainland Dubai requires you to set up a company that is 51% owned by a local sponsor. It is also compulsory to have a permanent physical address for the business.


Due to the city’s rapid growth and its relative wealth, it is an exciting time to be a freelance photographer in Dubai. Recent advances in technology such as 3D capture, Augmented Reality integration in real-time, and super-high-resolution digital photography means that we are at the start of a new era in photography.

With Dubai always at the cutting edge of new technologies, launching your business there places you right in the middle of this bold, new world and opens up massive opportunities to make money as a freelance photographer.

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