Jorge Ferrari

A silhouette of a motorbike rider performing a jump at sunset.

In this image taken by Canon Ambassador Jorge Ferrari in August 2020, professional motorbike rider Sam Smith performs a jump at sunset while test riding in Dubai. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM lens at 343mm, 1/1600 sec, f/10 and ISO800. © Jorge Ferrari

Canon Ambassador Jorge Ferrari is one of the most in-demand photographers in the United Arab Emirates. With an illustrious career spanning three decades, Jorge has covered almost every event imaginable, from news and politics to commercial work and Formula 1 – and he has fired his shutter at some of the biggest sports stars on the planet.

Ever present at the biggest sporting events in the Middle East, Jorge has an enviable reputation. Growing up in Argentina, he was captivated by photography from a young age. "My family have always mainly been involved in journalism, and photography is a great part of that," he explains. "When I was growing up, photography wasn't a university career, so I went into journalism, which I really liked. I was always involved with photo clubs and my mother used to go on her travels and come back with loads of slides, so we'd all sit down together for her slideshow. That's how I got into photography."

After taking a photography course, Jorge moved to Kuwait in 1986 to work with his uncle. "We did a lot of commercial photography, and I learnt a lot from him about the business of photography, which is key if you want to be a professional photographer."

After working as a stringer for Reuters in Kuwait, Jorge set up home in the UAE in 1990, where his commercial work soon led him to rally photography. "We covered the Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) and the UAE Desert Challenge (now known as the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge), so I was heavily involved in the rally scene in the beginning. On the back of the rallies, I started to do a lot of car photography, which I still do."

A black and white image of Canon Ambassador and sports and action photographer Jorge Ferrari. © @nasseryounesphoto
Location: United Arab Emirates

Specialist areas: Sports, action, commercial

Favourite kit:

Canon EOS-1D X Mark III

Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM (now succeeded by the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM
Tens of female swimmers race through choppy waters. A fisheye lens has caused the surface of the water and the buildings at its edge to appear curved.

Female swimmers race through choppy waters during an annual triathlon held at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X (now succeeded by the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III) with a Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye lens (now succeeded by the Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM) at 1/800 sec, f/5 and ISO100. © Jorge Ferrari

Today, Jorge's hugely varied career spans sport, action and commercial work. He is also the official photographer for Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi, home of the Formula 1 Grand Prix, as well as the Dubai Tennis Championships and the Dubai Sevens, an annual rugby event. "It's an atypical situation because a lot of photographers specialise in one field and stick to that," he says. "I don't specialise, but I cover a lot of events that happen here in the Gulf region. The fact that they keep calling me year after year and now I'm kind of part of the events – it's a very good gauge on what I do for them."

Among his most famous images is a shot of Roger Federer playing a tennis match against Andre Agassi at the top of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai – one of the tallest hotels in the world. "This photoshoot received massive coverage across the world at a time when social media didn't really exist," says Jorge. "A tennis court was set up on the helipad at the top of the hotel and they played a game of tennis as I was shooting right next to them – it's definitely one of the most exciting shoots I've ever done."

A rally car leaves behind a huge trail of dust as it races around a desert track.

Jorge shot this aerial image of a rally in Oman from a helicopter hovering over the desert course. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D Mark II (now succeeded by the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III) with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM lens (now succeeded by the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM) at 16mm, 1/2000 sec, f/4 and ISO100. © Jorge Ferrari

Since moving to the UAE three decades ago, Jorge has covered an impressive number of high-profile sporting events in the region. "I'm very proud of my career in general," he says. "Over the years when I think of all the different athletes and personalities I have photographed, it's amazing.

"Last year, the Dubai Tennis Championships hosted a ceremony celebrating the event's success and they started calling people up to thank them. They called me last and when my name was read out, there was an eruption of cheers and clapping. On a personal level, that was a very touching moment. I felt incredibly valued."

How would you describe your photography style?

"I think I have a style which works across the different disciplines that I cover. I have a way of working that I apply, whatever the sport. Of course, Formula 1 is completely different from football, but the way I approach each event is very similar. There are some parameters that I use and apply for all the disciplines and the result is a style which is unique to me. I find it hard to explain my style, but I know that when people see my images, they say, 'That photo was taken by Jorge.'"

You've shot a huge range of events – do you have a favourite sport to photograph?

"I played rugby in my youth, so I like rugby very much and I love covering that. I like team sports and field sports. Unfortunately, here, I don't do enough, and I'd like to do more. I enjoy all the sports I cover. It's a blessing and a curse to cover so many sports, as I get bored very easily. If I cover a tournament for a month and the days are similar, I get a bit twitchy. My brain is used to being constantly challenged and pushed to do different things."

What would you say are the biggest challenges with the kind of photography you do?

"If you're just starting out, the challenges will be related to having the right equipment. There are always new technologies, new cameras, new lenses, so these challenges are still valid. At this stage of my career, my main challenges are situations related to access. You can be the best photographer in the world, but if you don't have access to where you need to be, you can't do your job."

What's been the most valuable lesson you've learnt during your career?

"I'm from Argentina and we often have a short fuse. But although I can't hide my emotions, if I've had a disagreement with someone at work, I've always fixed it – and we often end up becoming good friends. I've encountered many different people and we all have bad days, but you must remain calm. I would also say it's very important to be patient, and you must always prepare ahead of time for any shoot."

What's next for you? Which ambitions remain unfulfilled?

"I am really content with what I'm doing. Perhaps I would like to expand into the other events which are happening here in the UAE – I don't cover a lot of golf for example. I am also looking more at mentoring. I have teams who work with me, and I observe what they are doing and mentor them. I have grown to love this, and I think my career will take this direction in future – working with small teams and taking on more of a mentoring role."

One thing I know

Jorge Ferrari

"No matter how creative you are, you won't get very far if you don't work hard and put the effort in. You won't get where you want to be if you solely rely on genius or creativity. You need to put the hours in and attack your career. Don't despair when things don't go your way because they won't a lot of the time. Learn from it – keep pushing. You must also be super critical of your own work. Look at as many photos as possible and join a photo club or group; you can learn a lot by sharing experiences."

Instagram: @jorgeferrari_photos

Twitter @ferrariphotos


Jorge Ferrari's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Jorge Ferrari's kitbag containing Canon cameras and lenses.


Canon EOS-1D X Mark III

The ultimate creative toolkit, with superb low-light performance, deep learning AF and 5.5K RAW video. "This is Canon's top of the line professional camera for me. It has amazing features, it's robust and completely weatherproof, it has a long battery life – it's totally reliable," says Jorge.

Canon EOS R

A full-frame 30.3MP sensor with impressive detail, ISO performance and Dual Pixel CMOS AF. Jorge says: "I love the new technology, features and possibilities of this camera. I am looking forward to a dedicated mirrorless sport body!"

Canon EOS R5

Whatever you shoot, however you shoot it, the EOS R5 will let you be creative in ways you simply couldn't before. "I always have one on all my shoots. Depending on the job, I may use the R5 as my second camera, but it's always with me," says Jorge.


Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM

The successor to the lens Jorge favours is a fast and flexible telephoto zoom lens that's built for any assignment. Jorge says: "I love this lens for its versatility and image quality. It is also very fast, and it has a very fast focus. It lets me hunt for images from a distance so I can get more candid shots. In sports, it is the opposite – very useful when the action gets closer to you."

Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM

The latest version of the lens Jorge always carries is a versatile fisheye zoom lens offering a choice of full-frame or circular image. "I love this lens and it is always in my bag. During any event, I always find an opportunity to get a 'wacky' fisheye image that adds to the final edit," says Jorge.

Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM

This 14mm f/2.8 optic uses ultra low dispersion (UD) and aspherical elements to boost image quality, while its rectilinear design corrects for distortion. Jorge says: "I love this lens because it is really wide and super sharp. It is always in my bag."

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

This new version of the classic wide zoom offers stunning sharpness throughout the zoom range. "I use the 16-35mm when I think the job demands a funkier look because of the wider angle," says Jorge.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

The successor to the lens Jorge enjoys working with is the perfect companion to any full-frame EOS camera, with sharp optics and outstanding image quality. Jorge says: "My criteria for choosing this lens over the 16-35mm is based on the nature of the event. If I'm going to do more people shots, then I use the 24-70mm because it lets me get closer and I can even photograph portraits; also, at 24mm, there is not much distortion, while giving you a respectable amount of wide angle."

Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

A high-performance L-series super-telephoto lens ideal for all types of action photography. "This is an extremely good quality lens. I use it for special shoots, mainly static cars, because at wider apertures it throws the background out of focus and gives a smooth feel. I also use it a lot for tennis when I want to get full body," says Jorge.

Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM

With its wide angle of view and extended depth of field, the EF 20mm f/2.8 is a great choice for photographers shooting landscapes, architecture or reportage. "I use this a lot when I want very wide coverage; very sharp and light, I use it a lot for commercial shoots with people or architecture," says Jorge.

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM

The EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM delivers outstanding image quality in a robust design ideal for sports and wildlife photography. Jorge says: "My favourite for action, whether it's football, rugby, tennis or Formula 1. It's extremely sharp and fast."

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

A lens that allows fine creative control over focusing and depth of field. "A classic when you want to throw backgrounds out of focus and to keep a frame that is as close as possible to the human view," says Jorge.

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