GPP, OMG [Updated with Shootout Video!]

photoSettle in….lots of words and photos below.

I’m back, and recovered (more or less) from Gulf Photo Plus PhotoWeek 2013 in Dubai — and I have to say that I’m still feeling the afterglow! Never mind that Dubai is a truly amazing city. And never mind that you can have some magical experiences there. This annual photography event is really like no other.

EDIT: Start here, with the Shootout Video from GPP:

<p><a href=”″>GPP2013 Shoot-Out</a> from <a href=””>gulf photo plus</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Hit the link below for the full writeup and about a hundred photos.



I’ve taught workshops in the US, Canada, Australia, Spain, and Norway (and I’ll be in Sweden the day after tomorrow) but I can honestly say that no one puts on an event remotely as well as GPP. It’s well organized, well-supported, high-level; and yet casual, chaotic, fun, and above all — energizing. Jetlag? What’s that? I was pumped all day, every day. The workshops themselves are well-conceived, well planned, and the logistics are all worked out ahead of time so things go off smoothly.


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I dropped in on one of David Hobby’s classes. Here he is apparently haranguing this poor girl….actually, David is just extremely animated when he teaches. Too much Mountain Dew.

Part of that is the instructor list – Gregory Heisler, David Alan Harvey, Eduardo Angel, Peter Hurley, Joe McNally, David Burnett, Bobbi Lane, David Nightingale, Lindsay Adler, Zach Arias, David Hobby, John Keatley….where else are you going to find a roster like this?



They’re stoked and they’re serious. Like, really serious. Like, push me to my limits serious, sometimes. Which is what you want when you’ve flown 9000 miles (about 18 air hours, 27 travel hours) to get there. I’m not making that kind of commitment just to screw around, you know? The students are on board with that. They’ve dropped some serious coin on a workshop, and they expect to get something out of it. When both sides arrive at the table with the same goal, things happen, and it feels really good.


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Day one is an orientation meeting and a chance to meet the other instructors. David Hobby and I have “known” each other a long time, but ironically we had to fly to Dubai to be in the same room. So that was a treat. The rest of the day was location scouting, for me. My workshops are all in the field, and GPP had lined up a VERY exclusive villa for us to shoot in, called Al Barari. We’re talking about the upper crust of an upper-crust city. I shot that villa for three days and still didn’t see all of it.

My assistant/PA/fixer for the week was the very capable Issa AlKindy, himself a photographer (he shot a cover for Forbes magazine right after our scouting trip – amazing). Issa and I toured our locations and even spent some time looking up locations for some personal work I wanted to do.


After that, it’s pretty much a whirlwind of teaching, talking, networking, and eating/drinking. There are workshops starting and ending at all times of the day, so you never know who you’re going to find in the VIP room, which is a sort of faculty lounge GPP maintains with food, water, wifi, and a safe place to lock up your gear. At any given moment I’d find David Alan Harvey swapping stories with David Burnett, while John Keatley would be working on a presentation and three or four GPP staffers would be doing mysterious but no doubt crucial things on laptops. Then in would sweep Sarah Lando and all hell would break loose as a torrent of enthusiastic Italian-English came  forth.

Most days end with an informal gathering at Vista Bar, upstairs at the Holiday Inn. Vista has a gorgeous outside patio, with views of the Palm Jumeirah and the Burj Al Arab, and serves great food and drinkable wine (alcohol can be hard to find in Dubai). Depending on your stamina, these little conclaves can go well into the night.



I had three workshops, two days each. We ran Interiors 101 back to back, shooting in Al Barari Villas, the offices of, and Vista Bar. These were great locations, big enough to contain a bunch of photographers and their gear, and challenging enough to push some envelopes while still within the realm of the possible.


My last two days were Interiors/Lifestyle, which is always a gas (and always sells out). Here, we spent one day in Al Barari shooting residential, and the second day at Vista Bar, where I gave everyone the assignment of shooting three photos: one wide “establishing” shot, one “medium” shot, and one detail that could be associated with the restaurant. Two of the shots had to include people, preferably in a way that allowed for some story-telling, or for the viewer to project a story onto the image.


Here’s a slideshow of student photos from across the entire week. These people rocked it! Watch for my cameo appearance as a bartender!

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Well done, people.

A few of my shots from the week:






And, finally, here’s a little of the social milieu. David Alan Harvey’s show opening at the GPP studios (check out David shooting the belly dancer’s butt); some world-class top-shelf elite photographers goofing around with iPhones; and lots of BTS from my workshops. Enjoy!

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14 responses to “GPP, OMG [Updated with Shootout Video!]

  1. hey Scott, it was great having you as a teacher. Do you also have the group photo from our group, the interiors/lifestyles one? Would love to have that. Thanks!

  2. The images are great, wish I could have been there.

  3. Scott, glad you enjoyed your trip! Once you catch your breath let’s pick a US location for your workshops!

  4. yildirim enes

    I am so up sad that I wasn’t able to make it there as much as I wanted to be there.

  5. Is GPP in November as well, and you will be having workshops? So I can get a second chance 😀 . Do you know when and where I can sign up? Did not see anything about November on GPP2013 website.

    • Thomas, maybe. GPP runs an event called PhotoWeekend in November, but I doubt that they’ll even think about the line-up before mid-summer. But you could shoot them an email and ask…

  6. yildirim enes

    I hope so,that would make me very happy