Home > Expat Men > The photography of David Taylor-Bramley

Sally is British and she lives in Zimbabwe. We have been absolutely lucky to “meet” her because she is a wonderful proofreader for our translated articles. This time, for the special updating on Photography and Expatriation, she has surprised us with a wonderful article on her photographer friend David Taylor-Bramley – thanks a lot, Sally!

All photos are copyright of David Taylor-Bramley


I have known David Taylor-Bramley for almost 30 years when we first worked together in London during the 80’s. I moved to Zimbabwe in 1995. He moved to Dubai in 2003 and hasn’t looked back. I last saw David at my wedding in London in 1996 and we’ve kept in touch over the years.

He has experienced meteoric success in Dubai, saying, that for him personally and professionally, it was the best thing he ever did. When he first arrived in the Middle East he did shots of some of the amazing hotels that Dubai has become world famous for.

His next assignment took him on location to the desert for Lamborghini. In 2004 he got his first poster campaign for Jotun paints. In London, David was better known as a People photographer. His work was usually people orientated with clients like British Airways, Mitsubishi, Royal Horticultural Society, Port of London, Fina Oil, Royal Mail, The Army, British Telecom and many financial institutions – it’s a long list. He has had some amazing, and in his own words, “scary moments”. His first paid job was in 1982 at the Dorchester Hotel in central London to photograph the actress Shirley Maclaine. He clearly remembers being told, after only a few minutes, to leave by the PR people, as the national press photographers wanted more time to get the best shots. He was a beginner and not so important! However, he stayed and although he was physically lifted out of her room by two public relation employees, his persistence paid off. As he was being carried out, he called to Shirley Maclaine who at that exact moment turned to look directly at him, resulting in this perfect shot of the star:


David Bradley2

One of his better-known shots was from 1989. He was on the set of Derek Jarman’s film War Requiem to take pictures of Sir Lawrence Olivier. He had come out of retirement to make the film and was very frail. His character was to play a war veteran and his nurse was Tilda Swinton. The other actor in the picture is Nat Parker.

David’s decision to move to Dubai was born out of artistic frustration. “A photographer’s life appears to be glamorous and exciting and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t – when you’re busy! If you have a month with no work it’s a different story”. The advertising industry in Dubai and the Middle East was starting to really rev up. International photographers were in demand and the agencies were all chasing awards to get noticed in the bigger global picture. “I set up Taylor-Bramley Photography LLC in 2003 and I have a studio in a villa close to the hub of the advertising business over here. My business partner and I have recently set up Parashoot Production which works with advertising agencies and directly with companies to organise the casting, locations and stylists (hair, make-up, wardrobe and food) together with permits, transport, crew meals you name it! We’re very excited about the future”.

Here are some of the prestigious clients David has worked for: Samsung, Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, Nissan, Etihad Airways, Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airways, Rolls Royce, Toyota, Coca Cola, Daimler/Mercedes, McDonalds, National Bonds, Masdar Institute for Renewable Energy – but! David tells me he has discovered a new passion with his photography in Dubai and you’ll never guess in a million years what it is ….. he absolutely loves hanging out of helicopters!!!


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He is currently working on a portrait of a chef for the 5* Grosvenor House Hotel in Dubai and a car shoot for Nissan. “Whenever I look at pictures I think of the person behind the lens: in the position I’m in as the viewer – they were there, they experienced this. I’ve spent a significant part of my life looking at the world through a camera lens. My job isn’t just about exposures or getting it sharp – it’s about making what happens in front of the lens happen. It’s about getting hung-over models to look great on camera and it’s about being patient and friendly to security people who weren’t told you were coming. It’s about problem solving and getting a client to trust (and therefore pay) you to make their ideas real”. David has a long list of accolades and prizes:

2006 London International Awards : Gold – Print
2007 Dubai Lynx : Gold – Outdoor
2007 Dubai Lynx : Gold – Print
2009 Dubai Lynx : Gold
2009 Dubai Lynx : Silver
2009 Dubai Lynx : Bronze
2010 Epson International Panoramic Awards : Bronze
2010 Epson International Panoramic Awards : Bronze
2012 Summit International Awards : World Press Freedom Day

And the future for David? “I’ve no desire to return to the UK in the foreseeable future. Life is good, I’m busy most of the time and have the space to work from home. I have a great circle of friends and colleagues. Being an expat suits me just fine. Now that Emirates is flying from Harare, I might just hop on a plane and catch up with my old friend!”.

Sally Arumainayagam
Harare, Zimbabwe
June 2012
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