Snapshot of a Photographer from South Africa to Dubai

South African-born Anke Groenwald got her first camera when she was four-years-old and has always been “obsessed with photographs.” Now, she is a photographer and Operations Manager for Picture People in Dubai and not only loves her job, but helping others achieve their career goals. Her advice for other aspiring photographers? Practice, keep improving, and develop your own personal style.

How did you become interested in photography?

Anke:  I have always been obsessed with photographs. Whenever we would visit someone’s home, I would always wonder off looking at all the portraits they had up on the walls and then would want to know the story behind it. My love for capturing moments dates back to when I was gifted my first camera. I got my first camera when I was four-years-old and would ask my parents to pose together, or end up taking really random photographs of our garden and my dolls.


Anke: After I completed my studies in Cape Town, I decided it would be a nice adventure to go to the UK for a year. I absolutely loved meeting people from all around the world and learning more about different cultures. I had returned home after my UK visa expired and for two and a half months, the thought of going back to a standard routine and adapting to the “South African” way of life made me cry everyday. My mother could not handle seeing me so upset and recommended I apply for a job she saw advertised that was based in Dubai. I went for an interview, got hired on the spot, and a month later I was in Dubai. This year I celebrate 10 years of living in Dubai.


Anke: Practice, practice and keep practicing! Allow yourself to make mistakes. Identify how you can improve and develop your own personal style. It is important to know what area of photography you are passionate about capturing, as this will make all the difference.

ankeCompare and contrast working as a woman in South Africa, with working in the UAE.

Anke: I feel that opportunities for women working in both South Africa and the U.A.E. are really great. However, the main difference is that in the U.A.E. you are able to work yourself into a higher position in a shorter space of time based on your capability.

What are you trying to accomplish in your career?

Anke: To look back in 30 years and know that I made a difference by mentoring and developing the skills of any team I manage. I would find it the biggest accomplishment being thanked for helping someone achieve their career goals.

What do you see as business opportunities in the photography industry in the UAE?

Anke: We are very lucky to be surrounded by such beautiful architecture, I do feel that this line of photography which can be sold as Art, is a great opportunity for photographers in the region. I think that being inventive with new concepts for family and infant photography is a successful route to follow. Lastly, the Wedding and Event culture is massive, this would be another key area to focus on.

What DO YOU DO THAT HAS HELPED you succeed at work?

Anke: To succeed you have to show dedication, be efficient, ask many questions, accept mistakes, keep pushing yourself to be better and voice your opinions.

Erin Risner

Director of Community Engagement

Writer. Creative. Brand Strategist. Content Curator. Social Media and Marketing Maven. Passionate about connecting with women around the world and telling their success stories.