Last month I had the great pleasure of traveling to Dubai to speak and teach at GPP 2013. It was an incredible experience and I was able to meet some awesome people and photographers. GPP was an incredibly well planned and exciting week of workshops and seminars by some of the top teachers in the industry. I tried to pop in on a few different workshops when I had 10 minutes or so to spare, and I learned so much, even in such a short amount of time.
I had many great experiences and interactions on this trip, but perhaps the best part of the whole trip was dinner each night. Not because the food was incredible (Well, Ravi’s was), but it was the people I sat next to at dinner: David Alan Harvey, Greg Heisler, David Burnett, David Hobby, Zach Arias, Peter Hurley, Joe McNally, and on and on. Wow. How fun! Talk about great conversations and stories.
In addition to being one of the teachers, I was also asked to participate in the shootout on the last night of the week. The GPP shootout is a fairly new tradition that has caught on like wild fire. 3 photographers competing against each other under less than ideal circumstances. The rules are explained in the video, but basically you are given an assignment in front of 350 people, and from that moment, you have 20 minutes to think, light, shoot and edit a picture from start to finish. After all 3 photographers have finished, the crowd votes on who they think won. My competitors were Zack Arias, and Lindsay Adler. It was intense, but I have to say, after feeling nervous for about 30 seconds, I really enjoyed it. Not to mention, I love how my picture turned out! Now I have Leibovitz and Heisler in my collection.
So what was the assignment? Create a portrait of one of the greatest portrait photographers of all time, Gregory Heisler. Fortunately, I had gotten to know Greg over the course of the week, so I knew he was an awesome guy, and that helped a bit. Before I packed my bags for Dubai, I had anticipated, or at least hoped the assignment would involve shooting a portrait, or at least photographing a human one way or another. To be at least somewhat prepared, I brought a few props just in case (turtleneck and wig). I only needed 2 of them as it turned out, so I’m going to keep the other options a secret for now.
The video above is condensed quite a bit, so there is a lot you aren’t seeing and hearing, but this is a great recap of how it all went down. Congrats to Zack Arias on winning! He was talking trash all week, and he backed it up by going for the jugular. And by that, I mean he put a teabag on my head. Which I should have been more humiliated by, but I was too shocked at the time to fully know what was going on.
David Hobby (strobist.com) wrote a very flattering blog post about the GPP Shootout from his perspective which is worth a read if you are interested. He has done the shootout before, so he has a good perspective from all sides of the event. Thanks David for the kind words, and thank you Mohamed, Hala, and everyone else at GPP for being such wonderful hosts! I hope you all enjoy watching this, and maybe I’ll see you in Dubai next year.