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Five Reasons to Go to Dubai for Gulf Photo Plus 2013

March quickly approaches, and GPP has announced their instructors and courses.

I happen to think this is the best photo week of its kind on the planet. If you are anywhere near that part of the world, GPP is a no-brainer. But even if you are far away, it's worth the trip.

Here's why.

Go for the Classes

Duh. GPP's best draw is its variety of classes and range of instructors. Frankly, I am often intimidated to even be a part of this faculty.

Small classes, big classes, lectures, workshops, discussions—GPP runs the full gamut. This year I am teaching four classes—on deadline editorial portraiture, blogging/social media and two new offerings: small and larger lighting classes for absolute newbs.

The newb classes will be a no-fear environment, meaning you can be sure everyone in the class is in your same newbie boat. Also, the classes will include all of the items you need to turn your little speedlight into a portable studio. And the gear is yours to keep.

And what am I doing on my time off? Same thing most every instructor does: sneak into the other instructors' classes and learn everything we can. GPP allows the instructors crashing priveleges, and we'd be insane not to do it.

There are several instructors I have not yet met in this year's line-up. But even just considering the ones I already know (McNally, Arias, Greg Heisler, Dave Burnett, Bobbi Lane, Dave Nightingale, Scott Hargis and John Keatley) I am already gonna be hard-pressed to choose.

And there is a whole crop of new folks I have not yet met. You can bet I'll be listening to student feedback to see if I should be crashing their classes rather than those of the known-quantity folks. Decisions, decisions.

Go for the Downtime

Here's one of the coolest things about GPP: everyone pretty much just hangs out. It is a close-knit environment and ad-hoc discussions just pop up everywhere.

Sprinkle in a few drinks and some strawberry sheesha haze in the air to remind you that you are in the Middle East, and the only thing you'll be lacking during the week is sufficient sleep. By choice.

Go for the Shootout

Nowhere else in the world does this happen. Last year I (along with Martin Prihoda) got my ass handed to me by Greg Heisler. Live, in front of 350 people.

Shocker, I know:

This vid has been compressed down to ~6 mins. But it's a great thing to watch the unedited version live. (And, I can assure you, a completely nerve-wracking thing in which to compete.) It's the perfect capstone to an awesome week.

No idea who this year's victims will be . . .

Go for the Cultural Experience

How to put this?

There are a lot of differences, both perceived and real, between Western and Middle Eastern cultures. How you internalize those differences—how you learn from them—largely depend on whether you experience them first-hand or go on believing what other people tell you to believe.

I am a strong, strong believer in experiencing things first-hand and then forming my own opinions. Nothing has had nearly the impact on my view of the word (and, by extension, my understanding of myself) than has travel to other cultures. And I have made many lasting friendships as a result.

Here's the thing: Dubai in general is both Islamic and accessible. And at GPP in particular, you'll be learning in the midst of people from cultures all around the world. It's an amazing experience, and you'll leave having made new friends from all over the globe.

You can read more about the cross cultural experience in an earlier post, here. And my friend Dave Kile wrote briefly about the experience here.

If you are considering not going because of the cultural gap, you are exactly the kind of person likely to benefit most from the experience. See the world for yourself. Meet new people. Make new friends. Grow your own perspective and understanding.

Go for the Food

Even if cultural nuances are lost on you, you still gotta eat right? The UAE has a population composed about 90% of ex-pats. And they all brought their own food.

In particular, my very favorite restaurant in Dubai in the world is here. It is a little hole in the wall Pakistani restaurant called Ravi's, pictured above.

I am salivating just thinking about it.

Go for Dubai

Self-explanatory. One of the most visually insane cities in the world. It's like giving your camera catnip.

Sign-ups are now open. There is even an early bird discount on classes booked before January 17th.

Hope to see you there.


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