7 Ways to Capture Great Family Pictures in Saudi Arabia

Do you want to learn about the challenges of family photography in Saudi Arabia? Would you like to know the best ways to photograph your family in the Kingdom? Are you curious about life for western families in a completely closed country? If so, read this unique lifestyle article which offers seven ways to capture family pictures in one of the most intriguing countries in the world.

Is family photography even allowed in Saudi Arabia?

More so than most countries, Saudi Arabia is subject to significant fake news. For example, some people think married couples cannot hold hands in public and wives have to walk behind their husbands. Furthermore, many believe the authorities completely prohibit photography and filming in public spaces. These impressions are a world away from reality. Photography and filming are permitted in Saudi, but you must not capture anything or anyone in the background deemed unacceptable to the authorities. In addition, married couples can definitely hold hands but must not kiss or be too affectionate in public. Almost certainly, if you avoid sensitive locations or getting other families in your shots you’ll be just fine. While the environment is definitely challenging, our tips below will help you capture the best family pictures possible in the Kingdom.

1. Embrace local style

First of all, when shooting photographs inside the real Saudi, you should embrace local style. Seems like it’s the perfect opportunity to both wear traditional garb and capture authentic photographs in Arabia. For a woman, choose a tight-fitting abaya and style it with a belt and colourful hijab. To complete the look, follow a YouTube Arab makeup tutorial or hire a makeup artist to transform your eyes into something suitably dramatic. For a man, wear either western clothes (like many Arab men do) or join in and wear a thobe (a long, white robe). 

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2. Shoot early

If you want to shoot family pictures in public areas, like a street or beach, go as early as possible. The light will be much better in the early morning and you won’t have to worry about anyone getting in the background. Shoot directly into the light for really beautiful captures. Also, use a reflector to bounce the sunlight onto the faces of your subjects. That’s the big advantage of Saudi Arabia: sunny weather almost everyday.

3. Go to the roof

For some family photographs, go to the roof of your apartment or compound. There are two advantages: access to a mosque-strewn authentic skyline and relative privacy. Remember, married couples are not permitted to kiss, cuddle or get too close in public areas, but you can be a little bit affectionate on a private roof.

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4. Find a good compound

For photographs outside the real Saudi Arabia, find a decent compound. Pay-as-you-go beach compounds allow you to wear whatever you want, including bikinis. Although the backgrounds in compounds could be anywhere in the world, they will at least make your friends surprised about the freedom and amazing weather you enjoy every day in the Kingdom.

5. Hire a professional photographer

If you want stunning images with a combination of whole family, couple and solo shots, hire a professional photographer. Use our tips for your first family photo shoot to make the shoot more enjoyable and successful. Make sure you meet your photographer before the shoot and discuss in detail what you’re looking for. Also, find out exactly what you get for your money because professional photography is not particularly cheap in Saudi. In Al Khobar, we hired J B Dacanay Photography who did a magnificent job capturing us at Baher Villas. He charged 1200 SAR (US$320) for a two hour photo shoot.

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6. Splurge on a five-star hotel

One night in a five-star hotel provides a lot of opportunities for interesting family photographs. Wear whatever you want inside the luxury room and dress up local style for outdoor shoots in the beautiful gardens. At least you know the religious police do not operate inside these hotels.

7. Try the niqab, if only once

The Niqab divides opinion more sharply than any other garment in the world: a symbol of male oppression or the ultimate expression of religious commitment. Whatever your view, maybe try it once to replicate Saudi women’s conservative attire. Apply more make-up than usual around the eyes to create a sense of allure.

Final word on Family Photography in Saudi

Saudi is an extremely memorable country which people know so little about, so they’ll be interested in your lifestyle there. Don’t miss a unique opportunity to capture your family during a season in Arabia. Choose location and techniques wisely and you’ll come away with heaps of awesome pictures to make an enduring photo book or to share on your preferred social media sites.


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