Tag Archives: Best mummy blogger Dubai

Fatherhood | Alex Jeffries, owner of Barefoot Dubai Photography, is one of the leading family photographers in Dubai

Photos: Alex Jeffries

I don’t treat the words lightly when I say someone is a great photographer.  In the new age of digital, there are many photographers but not many great ones.  Alex Jeffries is certainly one of the great ones who is technically brilliant at his work and is also a genius in post-production too.  Very rarely do you find a photographer who is good at both.  A man of incredible detail and focus, and his work speaks for itself.  Alex, from Harrogate in Yorkshire has lived in Dubai for 15-years.  He lives with his beautiful wife, Kelly, and their 4- year old daughter Aya, and most importantly with Molly, the cat.  Alex first came to Dubai because of his love for the region when his father worked with the Oman Police with Sultan Qaboos many years ago. Together Kelly and Alex run three businesses: two Photography and one Public Relations. To see Alex’s work click here.

How did you get into photography and when did you turn professional?

I studied Graphic Design at University but from the darkroom days at school I’d always had an interest and a passion for photography. Having a designer’s eye gives you an advantage: you understand typography, composition and know design and layout. I also studied Art History which gives a great understanding of the golden rectangle and how the masters constructed their paintings.

I started shooting stock with istock it was great to be part of the Getty Images family. I stuck with it and my skills grew. They keep you abreast of the global creative image needs and standards, a great grounding.

I also teach. There’s a great reward that comes from it, that you can miss whilst doing other paid work. I’ve taught Adobe Photoshop for many years, firstly in the UK and then here in Dubai at GPP, the local photography education provider and elsewhere in Dubai.

With teaching Adobe software for so many years, I was also invited to become an Adobe partner. This partnership gives access to the latest design and imaging technologies before anyone else and direct contact with Adobe. The relationship and experience gives me and the team great retouching and colouring skill. Additionally I was also invited to be a Coloratti – a collection of the world’s top professional photographers recognised by X-rite who understand the importance and implementation of good colour management. It’s great to be involved with them.

I inherited a great work ethic from my father – I worked incredibly hard and my skills grew in all areas. I began to build the business and jobs started to flow in.

Back to 2017 and I have recently been awarded qualifications by the British Institute of Professional Photography – one of only two Photographers in the region that holds these. BIPP are internationally recognised and respected and its qualifications are a benchmark of excellence. Members must be qualified professionals and agree to be bound by their code of conduct. BIPP qualifications are among the most rigorous in the world, requiring hard work, determination, commitment and lots of creativity.

These days, being a professional photographer you need to wear many hats, it is no longer good enough to pick up a camera and take some good photos. You need to teach, you need to be skilled with colour management and retouching and have design and composition training and you have to be good with Social Media, Strategy and Marketing – it’s great fun.

Now, over ten years later, I run two successful photography businesses www.alexjeffriesphotographygroup.com – that specialises in Hotels, Hospitality and Interiors Photography and www.barefootdubai.com – family photography.

Can you tell us about Barefoot Dubai Photography?

Four years ago, when Kelly was pregnant with Aya, I was thrust into a wonderful world of families, babies, children, mums and dads. It was exciting, and because so many people knew I was a photographer they asked if I would do a maternity shoot, or a family shoot, or a newborn shoot. At that point I told people that we were a commercial photography company not a family one. But the requests kept coming, and so did the stories about family photographers in the city.

It seemed many people were unhappy with what they had seen or experienced, whether it was the quality, the pricing, what was delivered or the shoot packages. There didn’t seem to be much that they were pleased about and I heard so many negative stories.

Our pregnancy with Aya was not an easy one and many times we were told to prepare to lose her. With strength and prayers and an amazing doctor, our little angel Aya arrived at 8 months – her name fitted perfectly as it means “Sign from God’ or ‘Miracle’. Many late nights gave me time to think about this family photography problem that I kept hearing about, so around that time, ‘Barefoot Dubai – photography for family’ was born too.

I put a whole lot of work and investment into the launch and the web site. And all of this strategy and thinking was solely based on customer research and feedback. Consumers expect and demand high standards and they want transparency in pricing, packages and deliverables. So I looked at the whole project with a commercial eye. I wasn’t going to just set up a Facebook page and do a few shoots at the beach. It had to be done professionally and in the right way.

We were the very first family photography company to be awarded membership to the National Association of Professional Child Photographers, NAPCP. Others have now followed, but it was very important to me that people trusted our work, our qualifications.

I thought about the shoot packages – what people wanted and expected from a shoot. The images had to be professional, modern and the style needed to be less posed, more real. People told us that they were tired of being lured into a photographer’s studio with the offer of a cheap shoot, only to be told that their images are going to cost thousands of dirhams. Their images are effectively held to ransom until they pay outdated and ridiculously high prices for them.

We give all the images to clients, in high resolution for print and low resolution for social media, in different colours and styles, additionally all our costs are listed on our website, both of these aspects – we were the very first company in Dubai and the UAE to do this.

We haven’t paid to partner with any hospital, we haven’t rented a space in a mall. We have grown organically and successfully and now are a great photography provider in Dubai, giving families really what they want.

We’ve photographed multiple generations of families coming together, we’ve been invited to palaces in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi, photographed members of the royal family and now have numerous pages of testimonials on the website from happy customers.

Enquiries come in daily from the UAE and all over the world. We worked so hard to build a good reputation and I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved.

You also have Alex Jeffries Photography Group – can you tell us a little bit more about that? (so people don’t get the two confused)

Alex Jeffries Photography Group is our commercial company, we have made great progress in winning clients and building an impressive portfolio. We photograph hotels, resorts, interiors, corporate and food and beverage.

Our client list now includes Apple, Jumeirah and Meraas, owned by Dubai’s ruler – Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, most of the global law firms in DIFC including Herbert Smith Freehills, Clifford Chance and Linklaters, hotel groups including Radisson, Rotana, Jumeirah Group and Marriott.

Can you describe Barefoot Dubai Photography’s artistic style and what is your vision and emphasis to capture the essence of each family?

People want real, natural images, not heavily posed and photoshopped. It is often the shot between the shots that is the best one – if a photographer says ‘smile’, people tend to go rigid and stiff, but when they think the camera is off they relax and smile. These are the images that we like to capture.

Are your family shoots on average indoor or outdoors?

We offer both – no surprise that during Dubai’s fabulous Winters we spend a lot of time outdoors. We take families down to the iconic Burj Al Arab for fun beach sessions, or to one of the beautiful parks for the lush green background. When Summer comes we either head to the studio or to our clients’s homes for relaxed, laid-back sessions.

Do you also do photoshoots for newborns?

Absolutely, and I’m really proud of our amazing newborn shoots and the beautiful images that we capture. This was one of the shoots I had heard so many negative stories about: photographers that had never held a tiny baby before, conducting sessions in a garage, squishing babies into plant pots, even insisting that the parents could not be in the room. All wrong!

Taking a precious newborn baby that is just a few days old from the hands of a new mother is a very special privilege, not something to be taken lightly. It’s an amazing time and we were passionate to get this shoot package exactly right. We’ve photographed the tiniest premature babies, we’ve worked with many sets of twins, we’ve been to tiny studio apartments and the biggest palaces. It’s a magical and lovely shoot. I think we have designed it perfectly.

With our newborn session we go to our client’s home so that they can relax completely – no stress wrestling a new baby into a car and across the city with all the things that you need for changing and feeding. We take very natural, beautiful images, we don’t squish and push a new baby into poses that are uncomfortable.

We encourage parents to be present and to take part – babies need to cuddle mum and dad every few minutes. We take photos with parents too, and other relatives if they are there.

We also advise new parents how to soothe a new baby, how to hold them. You can practice swaddling, you can read all the books available, but until you have that newborn baby in your arms, only then can you really understand what they want and need.

Can you describe to us the process for a typical family organising a photoshoot with Barefoot Dubai Photography?

We’ve tried to make the process as simple and as streamlined as possible. A client’s first point of contact is usually our website which details all of our shoot packages and ways of working. They can send an enquiry through the ‘Contact Us’ page. which we respond to within a maximum of 48hrs.

At this point, I’m aware that issues high on peoples minds are:

#1 Is the photographer professional?

We explain that we are licensed, qualified and insured.

#2 Does the Photographer make great images?

We direct them towards our great portfolio to see examples of beautiful images, these are updated weekly.

#3 What are the costs?

We discuss the shoot package that they are interested in and direct them to the page on the website, they can clearly see one cost and all details, no need for confusion or a hundred emails back and forth.

#4 Is there any feedback from other clients / families?

We show them testimonials from our happy clients – we have many pages of great feedback on our website.

At this point people reserve an agreed date with a deposit or full payment, which is easily done through the website with Paypal or a credit card. We stay in touch as the shoot date approaches and are as flexible as we can be – we know that babies do not always arrive to a schedule!

What’s really lovely is that we see many clients as their lives change and their families grow: we might start with a maternity session, then meet their newborn, then have a 100 day session, then a first birthday cake smash.

For a family with a AED1,500 budget, can you tell us what they would get for that?

Our costs are ‘all-in’ costs. We have a number of packages on the website for 1,499 AED, one of our most popular is the Classic Barefoot session. This is an hour at the beach, park or desert, with 30-40 digital images included in a variety of styles: lovely vintage, vibrant colour and classic black and white.

Your wife Kelly works too, how do you both balance between work and time with your little girl?

As for any working parents, we co-ordinate and plan carefully. I’m present for many nursery pickups and drop-offs and the great benefit of running our own businesses is that we can be flexible and work the diary around commitments.

Aya and I often have sunset swims together and weekends are always planned well in advance. We live near the beach in Jumeirah and we spend a lot of time there and at the city’s gorgeous parks. Family time at the weekend is such a great time to relax and re-charge together.

We have our own little rituals that ground us in busy times: no one is allowed to leave the house without a hug and a kiss (this includes Nanny Grace and Molly the Cat!) and we have a special ‘kiss-cuddle-hug’ moment at bedtime. There’s not an evening that she sleeps without one of these from Dada.

Your favourite place to getaway from Dubai?

When I came back to work in the Middle East and Dubai, I visited Al Ain and grew a great fondness for the Emirate, as did Kelly. In those early days exploring, I shot many photographs of the old doors there and this became a coffee table photography book, published by Motivate.

Al Ain remains largely untouched and we usually visit every month. I enjoy nothing more than exploring a peaceful oasis with Aya in the winter months.

Your favourite piece of art?

I grew a great passion in my early days of Art history study for both the Impressionists and the Pop artists. I love Salvador Dali and visited his museum in Catalonia, I love the Gaudi architecture in Barcelona too. I’m also a big fan of Frank Lloyd Wright, his way of working can be seen everywhere today.

Your favourite art gallery in the world?

I’d have to say the Dali museum in Spain, although I’ve yet to visit Andy Warhol’s. It’s not an art gallery but the new Etihad Museum in Dubai is walking distance from our house and has some fascinating exhibits – we have been a few times and I urge everyone with a passion for the history of the UAE to head there.

Your favourite restaurant in Dubai?

I’m constantly shooting in the greatest 5 star hotels and restaurants in Dubai and Abu Dhabi so for my favourite restaurant I’d have to opt for a simple more down to earth restaurant. Ravi’s in Satwa makes great Pakistani street food, we’ve been going for so many years. All the staff know us, we know exactly what to order and it never changes.

What do you do on a weekly basis just to get some downtime?

I ride a motorbike and have a great group of friends who head out to ride very early every Friday morning, usually to Kalba through the mountains to the East coast. It’s a 5 hour trip, great to get some flow and blow away the cobwebs and see the guys.

Additionally I also get up at 5.30 every morning and swim for half an hour in our pool. It really clears my mind and sets me up for the day ahead.

Mums tend to struggle with buying gifts for their husbands, can you tell us your current top 3 presents on your wish list?

#Some Oppo headphones, the best you’ll ever hear

#The book – ‘How will you measure your life’ – Clay Christensen

#El Chapo – DVD Box set

Find out more about Barefoot Dubai Photography 

The Residence Maldives | Days in Paradise | Affordable Five-Star luxury | A family review

The Maldives has always been on most travellers bucket list, and it is sometimes a struggle for parents who still delight in travelling to know what to do with young children on an enclosed island and some parents are intimidated at the prospect.  The Residence Maldives is different – it gives the children a sense of adventure and fun alongside experienced staff and warm hospitality.  It is located on Falhumaafushi, an island located on one of the largest atolls in the world.  We stayed at the property for 5 days, and by the end of it we wanted to extend our stay. We will definitely be returning to this property next year when the resort expands to a second island connected by a bridge making it one of the largest hotel in the Maldives with a further 173 villas.  There is much to do every day from diving to paddle boarding, to lazing around by the pool, to long luxurious massages.  It is a long time since my family has felt this well rested.  Also check out the special summer offer below, and Seashellsonthepalm’s special offer for readers.

The Hotel

The hotel is owned by the Cenizaro Group, a Singapore based company, and headed up by Gary Xie, a second generation hotelier, who was recently featured alongside his wife, Beverly Chin, in the most recent issue of Singapore’s Tatler Magazine.  With a Singaporean at the helm  of the company, I knew there would be some guaranteed standards including efficiency on the island as well as good food.  More on our food experience…

We took the morning 4-hour flight from Dubai to Male.  Our arrival to Male was easy enough, as we waited two hours in the lounge before taking a 1 hour flight to the closest island.  The children were exhausted after the travel, but nevertheless, very excited to arrive to a 10-minute boat ride to the island.  Staff were efficient, warm, and great with the children and our luggage had moved from Male to island with little or no effort on our part allowing us to focus on the children.

The island is long and narrow so crossing over the width is a stone’s throw away, whilst the length is a good 15 – 20 minute walk but long enough to require buggys in the rain.The main arrival jetty is next to the infinity pool where most families gather after breakfast every morning either for a swim or a stroll on the beach.  The island’s sandy roads are beautifully manicured and well-kept in keeping with the paradise feel of the resort.    The island also has its own house reef located at one end of their water villas, and reefs sharks and turtles can be commonly spotted along the shallow waters as well as colourful reef fish.

Island fashion is relaxed and casual so bring only a pair of wedges and a dress for women and long trousers and shirts for men for the occasional date night at Fulhumaa Restaurant.  The guests at the hotel during our stay were a good mix from America, France, UK, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China even in low season.


We took a two bedroom beach villa with pool – we prefer this option to water villas because of the children’s safety plus our kids love to explore the sand for shells and crabs.  The rooms are extremely clean, with simple white tiles floors and Bali-styled teak furniture, very practical for children with no delicate or breakable tables or furniture.  Each room has a spacious bathroom with a large bathtub (on the water villas, this bathtub lays at the glass doors which can be opened for the perfect view), an indoor and outdoor shower which the kids enjoyed.  The rooms are simple, but more importantly, the rooms are well taken care.  The only way to describe the rooms is they are cleaned with ‘Singapore standards’ – a concept most people who have travelled to the Lion City would understand.  My children had room service on a couple of evenings and often food and sand would be evident on the floors.  During turn down service, the floors were back to their bright white colour and not a grain of sand could be found anywhere.  Laundry is quick too, and clothes can be usually returned to your room within a day.

Kids Club

The property does have a cosy temporary Kids’ Club whilst the island awaits for the construction of the larger and more permanent Kids’ Club to be completed later on this year.  The comfortable and clean converted room serves it purpose with tables for colouring and painting, board games and other toys.  More importantly, The Residence Maldives, creates a Kids’ Club all over the island.  The children’s daily activities are not restricted only to the Kids’ Club but they can range from crab hunting, baking cookies in the main pastry kitchen, BBQ with a professional chef, swimming activities at the main pool to make it fun for children of all ages.  My eldest is thrilled that at age 7 is now an expert crab catcher, a brilliant experience and at least I know that he can catch fish and crabs so he won’t go hungry on any island.

Paid Activities – Diving, Snorkelling, Dolphin and Fishing

My husband has been training our older three children, aged 7, 5 and 3, the last couple of months prior to our trip to ensure that snorkelling techniques were being refined before embarking for the best snorkel of the children’s lives.  We were so excited to take the children out to a large stunning reef that was only 10 minutes by boat.  The children were over the moon as they spotted reef sharks, leopard sharks, turtles, and several Nemos, of course.  Luca and Sofia, my elder two, still say today that ‘The best part about the hotel was the snorkelling and fishing.’

Also, surrounding the island are pods of dolphins, and it is possible to go out by boat to catch these incredible creatures who chase the boat to give you a spectacular show whilst they are hunting for their supper.  The dolphins are not always guaranteed but we were lucky enough to catch hundreds of them as soon as we set out.  Then, all by chance, whilst big-game fishing early in the morning we also caught sight of several more dolphins.

The diving is splendid as it one of the islands furthest south from the capital, Male, and it nests itself in one of the largest atolls in the world, The Gaafu Alifu Atoll.  The international dive team is extremely experienced and is headed up by French/American Master Diver, Nicholas.  He is cautious and safety is a priority for his team and guests.  You do feel safe in their care.  We saw leopard sharks, turtles, reef sharks and a family of eagle rays surfing though the channel.  Great visibility and possibly one of the best places in the world to dive.


The risk of travelling in low season (May – October) is possible monsoon rain but it never rains for long in the Maldives without gorgeous burst of sunshine.  Our risk paid off, and despite it being rainy season we had 5 glorious days of sunshine, and it only rained at night so I didn’t need my secret stash of children’s rainy day backup activities hidden in the suitcases.


Often, price and budget has also stopped many families from taking holidays in the Maldives.  At many other five-star properties, paid activities are often unaffordable, like a fishing trip on other properties can cost up to USD1,000 whereas at the The Residence  works out at USD300 an hour.  Most five-star Maldives properties today are still very expensive and each day including activities and food can cost a further USD800-USD1000 a day.  The Residence Maldives has priced itself affordably which wins them most clientele to date.  Even, a massage at the spa only costs just over USD120 for 50 minutes, making you more willing to spend knowing it is value for money. For more information on the Spa by Clarins, click here.

Our family has been blessed to try out several other Maldives properties but as a family this is the one that we will come back to.

To read more about dining options and the delicious Asian delicacies available click here.

To read about our spa experience click here.

Summer Island Savings with Seashellsonthepalm. The Residence Maldives is offering 50% off Best Available Rates, complimentary room upgrades and USD 100 resort credit per day.  

Exclusively for Seashellsonthepalm.com, The Residence Maldives will offer an additional 5% discount on Best Available Rates (Total 55% off BAR Rates), along with the room upgrade and USD 100 resort credit.

Quote “EBO 5%/SeaShellsOnThePalm” and send enquiries to sales-maldives@theresidence.com


Cooking for my family | Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Soup Supercharged |Using my Greenheart Organic Vegetables

Did I mention how much I love Greenheart Organic Farms who are based in the UAE already?  This week I thought to share with a receipe that I use with the children using butternut squash and pumpkin!  It’s the LONG weekend so here are ways to get inspired to cook with the kids.  We have blended the concept from two well-known cookbooks, Gwyneth Paltrow’s My Father’s Daugher, and Honestly Healthy by Natasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson.  My son, Luca, is crazy about cooking so although he isn’t a fan of this soup, it is a way of making him like appreciate the ingredients and enjoy his ‘own cooking.’

The health benefits of these supercharged ingredients in this pot of soup are countless from high levels of Vitamin A in pumpkin, pumpkin can also reduce cancer risk, fresh turmeric can help with inflammation, butternut squash delivers ample dose of dietary fibre, has significant amounts of potassium and vitamin B6.


2 onions chopped

2 Cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon of garam masala (or curry powder)

Half a large butternut squash chopped

Half a pumpkin chopped

1 carrot chopped

1 red chilli de-seeded

Fresh Turmeric

2 pints of organic vegetable stock

Coconut oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: Sprinkle with chia seeds before serving


Sweat the onions in the coconut oil, then add the garlic, garam masala powder, fresh turmeric, carrot and chilli and fry until fragrant.  Then throw in the butternut squash and pumpkin and ensure that all the spices are mixed in well, and when they start to soften gently pour in the vegetable stock to ensure all the root vegetables are covered.  Then add salt and pepper to taste.  Allow to simmer for 30 minutes, and cool for 15 minutes.  Then simply blend, and left overs can be frozen.

If you are cooking for children 6 months – 1 year, this can be mixed with brown rice, with no salt or chilli added.

Greenheart Organic Farms Opening Hours: 11:30am – 5pm except Fridays

For more information visit the website www.greenheartuae.com

Some super supplements if you are in your thirties.

I am extremely lucky to have a doctor as a husband. (he is not a supplement expert but he explains the science to me when it gets technical when I do my reading).  We are both very much into healthy living, and we have the occasional slip-ups like most people, but we will both get back on the healthy living track to try and help our body live the best way possible. Whilst in London and New York, I always set half a morning aside to visit my favourite store, Whole Foods Market.

One of the great thing about being married to a doctor is attending his medical conferences where I often meet highly specialized anti-ageing experts from all over the world.  They can help me understand the stuff that I already know but it is always so confusing so I ask them to help me simplify some of the more important information on mind-boggling topics supplements.

Most recently, I met one of the leading doctors from LA who believes women around my age (mid-late thirties) should take the following supplements so I went shopping at Whole Foods on Kensington High Street during my trip back to London. I love the whole organic concept when it comes to food but struggle to be disciplined about my supplements – so I asked him for a short list that I could deal with on a daily basis.

#Vitamin D – it has several important functions including regulating the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body.  These nutrients keep bones and teeth healthy.  Vitamin D can obtained from sunlight but if you have darker skin, it is harder for the sun’s benefits to penetrate the skin.

Good food sources – oily fish and eggs

#Magnesium – is a crucial mineral to help keep the body’s function pressure normal, bones strong and the heart rhythm steady.  If you regularly consume alcohol, drink dark soft drinks, caffeinated drinks, these tend to reduce the amount of magnesium available in the body.

Good food sources – beans and nuts, brown rice and whole wheat bread and green leafy vegetables.

#Zinc – it is much required by more than 300 enzymes in our body which are currently known and it plays a huge part in immunity, reproduction, skin health and vision.

Good food sources – oysters and other shellfish, grass fed beef, lamb, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeks, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, quinoa and oats.

#Omega 3 – there are a list of benefits from a healthy heart, regulation of cholesterol triglyceride and the  intellect of your children as it has  a big impact on the health of the brain.

Good food sources – fish (but be aware of mercury levels and other toxins) so the best would be wild Alaskan salmon and small sardines.

#Curcumin (contained in turmeric) – it has been used in India for thousands of year, and it is the spice that gives curries its yellow colour.  It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and has antioxidant properties.  Top tip:  this is even more absorbable with black pepper so add it to your cooking together.

Good food sources – you can add this spice to curries, pasta sauces, omelettes to boost your food.

Which brands

I discovered that the world of supplements was not as ‘clean’ as they like to make out – yes, the world of healthy living has to be researched well too.  Many of the supplement companies use binding agents to club together the ingredients making a tablet.  The problem is I don’t know which brands to buy. The shelves at Whole Foods are stacked with pills with so many brands  – and choice is mind-boggling these days.

I spent time with the Whole Foods in-house expert, and Viridian came out as one of the top brands because they don’t binding agents in their supplements, instead the supplements are placed in a casing which is softer on the stomach. Viridian products are also available in Dubai.


I am not selling on behalf of Viridian, and I am coming from a place of passion and I really want to share my research with you.  After my chat with the in-house expert I was curious to find out more about Viridian.  I went onto the Viridian website, and I fell in love with their ethical concept.  The owner of the company was 17 when she chose to become a vegetarian and spent her twenties passionately working on a Health Magazine in the UK before joining Solgar.  Then she worked her way up to become the MD of Solgar UK.  When the company was sold in 1999, she launched with a team of advisors and experts, Viridian.  This company finds the best quality ingredients, and some are organic, and they do not use binding agents.  She is also passionate about charities, and insists that parts of the profits are donated to charity.  40% to children’s charities, 40% to the environment, and she allows her consumers to vote for the charities they want these profits to go to.  I love supporting businesses like these and want to encourage more of them to be around.

Please note that I am not a doctor or nutritionist but I have a passion for trying to super charge my body. Please ensure that you speak to your doctor before taking any of these supplements.