If you keep up with the photography community in the slightest, you have probably heard about Gulf Photo Plus. GPP is the largest international gathering of professional photographers in one of the most interesting cities in the world: Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This year will be the first year Fstoppers will be attending and Lee and I are beyond excited. Continue reading to see how you can make the most of one of the largest photo meetups in the world.
We have been following GPP ever since we first became interested in photography. This gathering is packed with so many one of a kind events but here are a few of the things we are most looking forward to at Gulf Photo Plus 2013.
I've been to more photography workshops than I can possibly recall. Whether they have been focused on weddings, lighting, business, or post production, attending workshops has allowed me to see other ways to grow my basic photography knowledge and ultimately my photography business. Gulf Photo Plus is another beast altogether and takes continuing education to the next level. Not only are you able to learn from some of the best commercial, editorial, wedding, and national geographic photographers in the world but you also get to learn from them all in one place. That's pretty incredible.
Finally, what Gulf Photo Plus is probably most known for is the live shoot out challenge at the very end of the week. David Hobby from Strobist covers this event each year and it is always fun watching three pro level photographers battle each other in a high stress environment. Who can't love that? Check out David's full Strobist post from last year which includes videos of the whole thing at the bottom of the page.
When I travel for a photoshoot or sign up for a workshop, the most important thing in my mind is to grow as a photographer. That being said, I would be lying if I didn't say the MOST important thing is to return with at least one portfolio image (or at least one crazy sick facebook photo). Gulf Photo Plus has put together an interesting video that shows the work of those who have attended GPP in the past and it's pretty impressive. If having exotic photographs in your own portfolio is as important to you as it to me, Dubai's city streets or sand dune filled deserts are some of the best locations I can imagine. I'm sure many of you still remember this ridiculous shoot Joe McNally did years ago!
Since starting Fstoppers.com a few years ago, hands down the most rewarding and valuable asset has been meeting other photographers and gaining some of the best friends in my life. The community here at Fstoppers is beyond anything I could have imagined but beyond that, the community amongst photographers in general is stronger than ever. Everyone I have talked to that attends Gulf Photo Plus raves about the workshops and the learning experience but the one thing they always rave about more than anything is the intimate community GPP organizes. It is one thing to meet an inspiring photographer at a lecture but to be able to stay at the same hotel and share cocktails with some of the best photographers in the world sounds straight up my alley. I like the quote "work hard, play harder" and Gulf Photo Plus seems like the perfect environment to not only grow as a photographer but to also make some great friends.
We are working out the details of an Fstoppers Meetup while out in Dubai so stay tuned for that, but from what I've heard, Gulf Photo Plus is like having a meetup every single night. I really can't wait to meet photographers from around the world.
If there is one thing I've learned from running Fstoppers, it is photographers often scoff at the cost of continuing education without warrant. Maybe with the exception of having an advertising budget, I think continuing education is the most important money a photographer can spend (yep, new gear falls at a distant 4th probably). You can read and conceptualize all the photography knowledge you want from your home office but you are only going to get better by putting that knowledge to use, engaging in real conversation with other photographers, and pushing yourself in a hands on environment. Nothing can substitute this type of growth.
I just booked our flights (Lee and I are the two going) and I was shocked that from the US the flights were on average about $950 from the east coast. honestly I was expecting $2000 but apparently this time of year is a great time to head overseas. I'm currently booking hotels but they too don't seem that expensive compared to hotels in other major US Cities. The hotel to stay at if you want to hang out with everyone is the Holiday Express Dubai Internet City by the way. Don't forget the exchange rate. If you are paying in US dollars, our 1$ equals 3.64 cents of their UAE currency.
Finally, the courses are very very reasonably priced. You can check out all the courses on Gulf Photo's website at http://gulfphotoplus.com/gpp/2013/workshops. The range seems to be about $60 - $750 (Blame Peter Hurley for making that range so wide, but having produced his The Art Behind The Headshot DVD personally, I can say it's well worth that price).
All in all a trip like this might cost you $2000, but as photographers who own our own businesses, this is an amazing opportunity to learn from the best, advance your own career, and have an amazing international trip that counts as a write off towards your 2013 taxes. I personally would much rather have an experience like Gulf Photo Plus in my list of amazing trips I've taken than a new camera or studio gear any day of the week.
Hopefully you guys can tell how genuinely excited I am about this experience. Lee and I are working on a few surprises for GPP 2013 and we hope to meet more of our readers from around the world out in Dubai come March. If anyone has already planned to attend Gulf Photo Plus, leave a comment below and we can start planning some excursions.