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Neville Hopwood is a Dubai-based horse photographer. He began taking pictures at the age of eight. Jaime Puebla / The National
Neville Hopwood is a Dubai-based horse photographer. He began taking pictures at the age of eight. Jaime Puebla / The National

A day in the life of a photographer at Dubai's Meydan Racecourse

Neville Hopwood, renowned for his equine photography, describes a typical day during race season in Dubai.

Neville Hopwood, 43, is a professional photographer, renowned for his equine photography. Based in Dubai for more than 10 years, he takes racing images for Godolphin, Dubai Racing Club, Hong Kong Racing Club and Getty Images. Here, he describes a typical day during race season.

4am

When I'm working for Dubai Racing Club it is inevitably an early start because of the heat. The trainers exercise the horses early and if I want to get some interesting shots, then I have to make sure that I am set up and ready for when the horses come out.

5am

I'll arrive at Meydan and watch as the horses are led on to the track. I need to be prepared and have an idea of which horses I want to photograph, so I speak to the track manager the day before to ascertain which horses and outriders are practising that morning. Speaking to the track manager also helps me find out whether there are schedule changes.

5.15-8am

I photograph the horses in training. It's important to get a variety of shots every day during the season - close-ups, wide-angle shots, low angle, mid-shot and so on - and to be creative so that my work doesn't go stale. I have been photographing since I was eight and used to borrow my dad's camera. I bought my own camera in my teens.

8.15-10am

I wrap it up at the track and head to the office to ask the head of media what photographs they want that day. They'll have been watching the training session and so have quite a clear idea of which horses and riders looked good and which photographs they're interested in having on the website. I then edit the photographs ready to be uploaded on to the website. I don't only photograph horses; I also do interiors, studio shoots, product launches and commercial work. I worked at the Dubai Marathon for Emaar, Chinese New Year for the Burj Al Arab and New Year's Eve for Jumeirah Zabeel Saray.

10.15-12.30pm

I wait to find out whether there are any meetings or horses that are being schooled that day. If a new horse is being shown the track, I can get some interesting images. There are also usually two or three press conferences every day during race season and this is a chance for the media to speak to the trainers. I go to as many of these as I can to capture some interesting shots for the website.

2pm

I am back home, which is very different to when I'm working with the Hong Kong Racing Club and my work begins and ends later. Obviously I am up early again the next day, so there's not much time for socialising when working in Dubai.

11pm

If I've had a day's shoot and then submitted images, I won't have time to relax before heading to bed by midnight. If I have a free day, I'll read or go to the gym.

business@thenational.ae

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