Michael Huss Lights Up Dubai

I was honored to have been asked to run a workshop on production lighting for the crew of the Sharjah Media Center just outside of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

I jumped at the chance for two reasons. One, I love teaching and this offered an opportunity to put together an intensive “syllabus” on trends and styles in lighting. The other reason should be obvious: who wouldn’t leap at the opportunity to travel to and work in this part of the world, one so different from my own.

It was an amazing eight days. The staff at the regional TV station was wonderfully receptive to this Western stranger and eager to soak up my “wisdom.” Along with showing them about the latest lighting equipment and technical ideas, we did a lot of hands-on work in all kinds of places and formats.

We started off the week by focusing on different ways to light sets in their studios, from news broadcasts to commercials, including techniques for lighting faces for beauty ads and different kinds of products. As the week progressed, we took the act on the road to a number of locations. At the Sharjah waterfront, we worked on ways to tame the strong, unforgiving Middle East sun which challenges any production crew in the region working outdoors during the day. At Sharjah’s magnificent Calligraphy Museum, we explored the subtle effects that can be achieved with soft interior lighting, a somewhat new approach for this group. At night, we worked on new ways to light exteriors in darkness.

So what did the “teacher” learn on this excellent adventure? In addition to my delight in experiencing the richness, beauty and customs of a new culture, I was impressed by how open and ready to learn my “students” were, admirable since they are all seasoned professionals who have been doing things in certain ways for a long time. The Sharjah crew made me feel welcome and appreciated, and I realized that, despite the cultural differences, we all shared a common goal: always striving to be better and continuing to learn throughout our careers and lives.