I’m Charlotte Simpson of HotShots photography. As a third-generation photographer, photography is truly in my blood and has fuelled my creative energy for as long as I can remember. I’m a single-mum to two boys, Jack and William who are 20 and 16.
WHERE IS HOME?
I was born in Chiswich in the UK but having spent 20 plus years in Bahrain and Dubai, so the Middle East now feels like home. I also lived in New Zealand for ten years, where my eldest son was born, and felt very much at home there too, I guess home is wherever I lay my hat, or camera should I say…
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER?
Being pretty dyslexic and having a complete inability to stay focused, (only much later was it even diagnosed as ADHD) my school years were a real challenge and I really didn’t know what I could be, or wanted to be. I came out with hardly any grades as in most of the exams I couldn’t even understand the questions! I simply followed my passions for photography and travel and spent some time working as cabin crew for Gulf Air, based in Bahrain. I hated the flying but loved the opportunities for travel photography and when I was offered a position with an ad agency in Dubai, I hopped across the Arabian sea and gained a wealth of knowledge, combining photography, advertising and marketing. Finally, in 2007 I was in a position to recognise my dream of setting up a photography business of my own and ‘Hotshots Dubai’ was born. Winning 4 awards in the first year… which proved to me you can have slight ailments and still do okay! You just have to work harder!
WHAT DO YOU DO?
I am the owner and creator of HotShots Dubai Photography, where my aim has always remained the same … to offer creative but affordable photography. As there has been a down turn in the photography side due to Covid, I also now sell prints.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ACTIVITY TO DO WITH YOUR CHILDREN?
Even though my boys are all grown up, we still love our camping trips. We thrive in the great outdoors and they share my sense of adventure, whether it’s pitching a tent in the desert or a field in the UK or NZ and exploring the great outdoors.
HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR WEEKENDS?
Recently, my weekends have been spent setting up my new venture ‘Road Trip Dubai’. I spend hours driving through the streets of Dubai capturing all the quirky road signs that hold precious memories for us expats, turning them into funky wall art. They’ve been incredibly popular so I am constantly on the lookout for new signs to create variety in the collection.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MOVIE?
The Shawshank Redemption is a movie I could watch over and over again, great storyline and superb acting.
IF YOU COULD EAT ONE MEAL FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I’ve been a vegetarian for two years now and I’m constantly trying out new meat-free recipes. My recent favourite is Papaya Salad; a delicious mix of shredded cabbage and carrots, diced yellow pepper, peanuts and fresh papaya flavoured with coriander and lots of lime juice.
WHO’S YOUR CELEBRITY CRUSH?
Since I watched ‘The Notebook’, Ryan Gosling has been my celeb crush. I’d love to photograph him!
WHICH DESTINATION IS ON YOUR BUCKET LIST TO VISIT?
Over the years, I’ve become really interested in street photography, so my bucket list destinations reflect that. I’ve already ticked off Cuba, and London and filled my website with some really unique wall art from those trips. Next on the list is New York, where I want to wander the streets with my camera.
WHAT’S YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE?
Lindt dark salted caramel chocolate without a doubt. I always say I’ll just have a couple of squares a day as a treat, then usually end up eating the whole bar…
IF YOU COULD HAVE A SUPER POWER, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Actually I’d want two…
1.To find a cure for this dammmmm virus and let everyone get their lives back! So many have lost so much, it’s heart-breaking to see how so many have been so affected. Just brutal for everyone right now…
2. Be able to see my dad again…(I’m sure many would choose that one!) I miss him every day. My mentor, my inspiration and my friend. He single-handedly raised my three sisters and me…(so he had the patience of a saint too!)
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT LIVING IN DUBAI?
It’s difficult to choose just one! I’m a real people person so I love to chat to people from all walks of life and appreciate their life journey. Living in Dubai we get to meet fascinating characters from all over the world. Ultimately, we are all here because of our ambition and desire to carve out a better life for ourselves and I love that Dubai offers us those opportunities.
Where else would I have had the opportunity to photograph Gordon Ramsay and his food, Henrik Stenson’s wedding (he’s a golfer …I didn’t know that either), Santo Versace in his hotel and members of the UAE Royal family.
And the fact that I wake up to blue skies and sunshine most days too is the icing on the cake!