Day in the life: Beautiful visions for Dubai photography studio owner

Yasmin Hussain owns and runs YH Studios in Dubai Media City, a photography studio she opened three years ago. The Briton, 44, has 25 years of experience in the photography industry and was a photographer for various magazines in the UK before moving to the UAE in 2012. The entrepreneur, who lives in Dubai Marina, is also behind The Lipstick Make Up Institute, an extension of the photography studio offering both amateurs and professionals the opportunity to learn the art of make-up application.


The first thing I do when I wake up is turn my phone’s volume on; I usually turn it to silent before I go to sleep as people like to call me all the time. I’ll have a shower and then see what messages have come through overnight. I don’t eat breakfast, but sometimes I’ll have some fruit. I’ll also take vitamin C and some calcium supplements. I’ve started drinking apple cider vinegar with organic honey – it’s disgusting but it’s good for the digestive system and allegedly burns fat away.


I arrive at the studio and discuss various ideas that I have for photo shoots with my staff. I currently have a team of five full-time employees – two photographers, one editor and two make-up artists. I also work with a lot of freelancers.


My first clients have arrived for their shoot. We have all kinds of people come in to have their photographs taken, from models needing shots for their portfolios, to families wanting group shots for their living rooms. Kids are fantastic to work with as their personalities come out and I have great conversations with them. One example is the time a woman brought her 13-year-old son in. Apparently the whole way to the studio he had been complaining to her about having his picture taken, but once he was in front of the camera we couldn’t get him to leave. He loved it.


Once the morning’s shoots are over with, I like to have lunch. If I have time in the morning I make it at home – usually cherry tomatoes, spinach with fresh chillies and a fried egg on top. If I haven’t brought lunch in, I like to order some chicken livers from Nando’s.


I meet the make-up team. We do make-up and styling for our clients before their photo shoots, which sets us apart from the competition. Because the team is so brilliant, I decided to open The Lipstick Make Up Institute to offer different courses ranging from stage and catwalk make-up to Arabic make-up. We train everyone from make-up artists to those who want to learn how to apply their own make-up well.


There are more photo shoots and again, this can be anyone from a mixed bag of clients; I work with a lot of fashion companies as well as corporate businesses that come to me for professional mugshots for websites and photos for their marketing material. I put my clients at ease by talking to them. By the time they get to me they’re usually relaxed because they’ve been having their make-up and hair done in a lovely setting while listening to music. I can immediately tell who’s not comfortable and I make the effort to speak to them in make-up before they even come into the studio. My northern English charm usually works a treat.


We’re always working on new ideas in the studio. One of our make-up students had recently completed our platinum course, so I suggested we do a shoot with a live crocodile so that she could have an incredible shot for her portfolio. We hired a crocodile from Posh Paws, took some shots, gave them to my make-up artists and students and asked them to find ways of replicating the animal’s skin on our model. They figured out a way – it took 13 hours of make-up application, and we then took a great shot of the model holding the crocodile. I wanted to give our students a challenge and something interesting that would capture their imagination and give them room to explore and experiment with make-up; the texture and colours of the crocodile skin offered us the perfect project.


The time I get home varies from day to day, but if I’m back reasonably early I like to go out for dinner. The restaurant I frequent most is Ruth’s Chris Steak House, but my favourite is Armani/Ristorante.

After dinner, I chill by downloading music. I love music. I discover new songs by browsing through YouTube; clients love the music that I play in the studio and are always asking me to transfer the songs for them on to a USB.


I’m in bed watching TV. I love all the old programmes such as Prime Suspect. I usually fall asleep by 11.30pm.

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