A former Vogue photographer, Charney Magri came to the Middle East with a desire to document the beauty and intensity of women across the Arab world. TV news Correspondent, Hermoine Macura meets the famed photographer and finds out the inspiration behind her first book based on women in the Emirates.
Australian, Charney Magri is known for her high fashion photography in the UK and GCC – however surprisingly her latest project, Women of the UAE is not based on just outer beauty but rather inner beauty – featuring women from all walks of life that call the UAE home.
The 34-year-old photographer and mother of two, launched her first book earlier this year with the aim to highlight inner beauty, strength of character and whatever it is that drives the women who live here to make a significant contribution to the progress of the nation. She explains how it all began.
“In the UK I had been working in the fashion industry, which is predominantly women focused. When I started my own career I continued to work with women, which led me to my first project in Kenya and Tanzania photographing the ‘Beautiful women of Africa’. Then when I moved to Dubai, it was natural for me to bring my project with me and continue my study.”
Despite her focus for this project, Magri does have direct experience photographing some of the world’s most beautiful women. She worked in London for the famed photographer Nick Knight, sometimes dubbed “the Steven Spielberg of photography”. She was an assistant for Knight for three years in London, whose international clients include names as Alexander McQueen, Calvin Klein, Christian Dior, Jil Sander, Lancôme, Mercedes-Benz, the Royal Ballet, the Royal Opera House and Yves Saint Laurent.
Since she moved to Dubai in 2008, Magri has worked on fashion shoots and advertising campaigns for high-end companies, including Louis Vuitton, Ogilvy & Mather, Volvo, L’Oreal Professional, Leo Burnett, Emirates Airlines, Jumeirah Living and the Yas Hotel. She recently won two golds and two bronzes in the Dubai Lynx Awards 2010.
She is just one of several women who are focusing on women development in the Gulf states – a major economical driving force who now control one trillion dollars worth of wealth in the GCC. Based on statistics from the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook, female literacy levels prior to 1971 affected up to 85% of UAE women. This has since fallen to 7% in 2005. In 1972, 2.5% of women from the region were in the workforce. This figure has now increased eight-fold to 20.4% by 2005. She adds, “These figures alone are enough to demonstrate that women ARE developing and it is only a matter of time before these numbers grow even higher.”
So what about the challenges? “Like anything in life, nothing comes easy. And as I always say, if it’s not a challenge, it’s not worth doing! This book is a pure example of my pure determination, perseverance and belief in what I truly wanted to show the world. The challenges I faced in getting people to believe in me, my idea, my vision was endless. And I could have given up so many times. But I didn’t. And that’s the difference between success and failure. NEVER GIVE UP.”
Women of the UAE will continue to exhibit in various locations across the globe with Magri currently looking at working on her next book or first feature film. So watch this space.
Hermoine Macura is the first Australian female English speaking TV News Anchor in the Middle East, and also one of the area’s most recognized faces. Prior to establishing Straight Street Media in 2012, Hermoine was one of the main Anchor’s on Dubai One TV’s Emirates News. Her first book, FACES OF THE MIDDLE EAST was published in 2010.
FACES OF THE MIDDLE EAST is a book that aims to introduce the various ethnic and social groups who reside throughout the Middle East, proof that this part of the world is not, as many in the West mistakenly believe, a monolithic culture.
Neither a definitive story nor a political statement, FACES OF THE MIDDLE EAST, is the culmination of more then seven years of Photojournalism that documents the existence and rich diversity present in the region.
Order a copy online at www.straightstreetmedia.ae