Neon-filled Blade Runner-style Dubai photos by Xavier Portela

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In 2014, the Belgian and Portuguese photographer was exploring Tokyo in the wee hours of the morning, suffering from jet lag, and captured the city as much as possible. But when he got home, he wasn’t bowled over by his photos. “I was not really happy with the result because it was flat … I couldn’t reproduce the emotion in your guts when you stand in the middle of the Stations of the Cross in Shibuya or in the streets of Akihabara and the world is moving around you “, explains Portela.” This chaos, all these people around you, the noise, the temperature, this vibrant atmosphere, everything was gone, my images represented the reality of these places but not the perception that I ‘ had had while being there. “



From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela

Portela archived the footage from his trip to Japan and it wasn’t until two years later that he decided to do something about them. “I was inspired by the way Japanese anime are colorful,” he says. “I remembered the work of Zhang Bin, alias Benjamin, who is a Chinese manhua artist and illustrator. This is where I started to think, maybe the colors can help me bring the atmosphere back. and the emotions of my compositions. “

He started playing with his photographs of Japan, then launched Tokyo shine – the first of many series to follow, all with quotes captured at night “where colors try to activate the brain to replicate variables you don’t have in a photo, like temperature, noise, movement “, as Portela puts it. Simply put: the glow is what you remember instead of what you saw.

From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela



From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela

From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela



From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela

So far we’ve seen Hong Kong, New York, and Bangkok get the same “sparkle” treatment; Now Portela has launched his latest – Dubai, the city in the United Arab Emirates that he visited in 2019 for a photography festival. “I love that you can really see the urban choreography in every shot, even the ones of the Dubai Marina, where the boats make nice curves,” Portela says. “I didn’t have time to explore the whole city and to be honest the temperature was extremely hot, I mean it was a nightmare for my lenses with all the condensation. But I guess I will have another chance in the future when it’s cooler. “

What does Portela love so much about night photography? “If the sun isn’t shining on your composition, it means someone did, a neon, an LED, a street light, a passing car, all the lights you get at night are there for some specific reason. , because someone at one time thought about lighting something Night photography captures what people want you to see.

“During the day, the sun takes over to show us everything, which is too difficult to focus on. This is why most of us just wait until sunrise or sunset to take photos, when the sun creates shadows and gives a direction to focus on, which is why we all know good places to look. sunrise and sunset. I guess I like to capture what humans choose to light up. “

To find out more, visit Xavier Portela website where you can also purchase one of his prints from his ongoing Glow series. Or follow him on Instragram.

From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela



From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela

From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela



From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela

From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela



From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela

From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela



From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela

From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela



From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela

From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela



From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela

From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela



From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela

From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela



From the series, Dubai Glow © Xavier Portela





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