Where are you today, and how did you get there? Everyone is on their own journey, and it’s important to appreciate each moment as a lesson for whatever is to come. Being in the right place has contributed to several highlights in my life. Today, my memory takes me back to my adventure in Dubai, where I had set out to photograph members of the royal family.
The year was 2013, and -as you might imagine- it was ridiculously hot there. Michael and I had reservations to enjoy a special dinner at the top of the Burj Khalifa tower, where the maitre d engaged us in a lengthy conversation. As we spoke, I shared with him my interest in photographing the royal family because he had mentioned the royal family owns the building. “Forget about meeting the royal family,” he said. Although the family owned the building, the staffer mentioned that no one even on staff had ever had the opportunity to meet any of the members in person, let alone take a photograph of them.
Disappointed, we continued with our journey. The next stop on our itinerary was the Camel Races that Dubai is quite famous for, so we arranged for a car to take us from the hotel into the desert, and had another young couple join us. Just our luck- the driver couldn’t quite understand our requested destination, so he ended up driving us a whole hour in the wrong direction, heading for the horse races when we were really anxious to see the camels!
When we had finally arrived at the race (the camel races, that is), it was like we had entered into a scene from a movie, so surreal it all seemed. As I looked around, I noticed that there were only men present there- no women except for myself and the other woman in our party of four. I thought it was pretty interesting to see only men with their camels, and then this little blond woman with her camera – ME! As I found myself in the right place to capture the perfect shot of the race, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Someone was trying to get my attention. Annoyed, I turned away from the race, and missed my shot of the takeoff, to engage with whoever was behind me. It was an entourage member handing me a box of desserts and refreshments. Curious to know who the gift was from, I looked beyond the crew member to see a Mercedes-Benz pulling up with none other than the royal family in it.
When the press had caught on to what was happening, they quickly told me to go up and speak with the family once their car had made its next lap around the race track with the royals aboard. I was so excited to meet the Crown Prince and his uncle, the Emir’s brother, but what really made that moment all the more special was the opportunity to document our encounter. It’s amazing how things work out just right. I remember when I thought everything was going wrong as we drifted off in the wrong direction because our driver could not understand us- and the words of the maitre d were certainly of no comfort. But, just when I least expected it, I discovered I was in the right place, standing there at the Camel Race waiting for takeoff. When is the last time you discovered you were in the right place?
As we engaged in conversation, I handed my photography card to both the royals, and told them about the Lucille Khornak Gallery in the Hamptons. I noticed the press was really interested in getting some shots of the prince and me together, and I asked Michael to capture some photographs of the two of us as well. It’s important to make the most of special moments like these. You never know the impact you may have had on someone else, or what future returns your investment in today could bring. Remember to appreciate every moment as a lesson for whatever may come, and you’ll see how being in the right place will benefit you in your own life.