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GPP, Again….

Feb 8

In Seminars & Workshops at 6:02am


Gulf Photo Plus launches in Dubai in a couple of weeks, and I’m stoked to go back to the Middle East. This will be the 4th year for me, and the event just keeps getting better and better. Hats off to Mohamed Somji, Hala Salhi and the whole GPP crew for putting together what has become the premier photo conference and learning center in the Middle East.

Got a bunch of reasons to be stoked, principal among them the faculty who heads yearly to that strange and friendly conglomeration of concrete and glass that is Dubai. The talent and teaching that is offered at GPP simply makes me want to go to all the classes. The workshops run the gamut of skills, from photo-j, to lighting, post production, portraiture, you name it. If you got a jones about getting better at just about any aspect of picture making, this place beckons.


Also happy to participate in a group exhibit over there. My contribution is a bit of my admittedly odd dance photography. Just had the privilege of working with the magnificent dancers of the California Ballet Company, based in San Diego. Up top is Halim Seo, aboard the nuclear submarine Topeka, and below is Jenny Curry, atop the counter at the Night and Day Cafe, on Coronado Island. In the middle, and underwater, is the daring, redoubtable Samantha Knobloch, who plunged gracefully. Dancers are simply wonderful, hard working, creative people to engage with a camera. They literally leap at a creative notion, and somehow, physically transform a vaguely worded idea into something beautiful that belongs much more to them than to the person behind the camera. More blogs tk on this project.


There’s a bunch of events and shows and sponsors over there, to be sure, but the heart and soul of GPP remains the classes. David Hobby (aka St. David of Baltimore) goes every year. This year his classes cover portrait and lighting, but also still life and social media as a tool. Zack Arias brings the one light to Dubai, and Bobbi Lane does her “portraits unplugged” class, among others. (I’m hauling gear like crazy and she gets terrific pictures carrying around nothing more than a damn fill board. It’s not fair. I gotta take that class.) David Nightingale brings his HDR magic, and Matt Kloskowski bails outta Tampa for a few days to teach layers, about which he is the definitive word. (Though I have given him some pointers over the years:-)

Chris Hurtt does a great range of beginner type classes, and Joey L. weighs in on the pressures and processes of heavy duty commercial shooting.  Steve Simon takes his phojo gang out on the streets, and Vincent Laforet explains the transitions and mysteries of shifting from stills to video like no one else can. Melissa Rodwell shows the ways of the fashion world, and Robin Nichols takes folks from behind the lens to in front of the computer.

Did I mention this is a candy store in the desert? The individual classes held during the week are topped off by Photo Friday, which is like a buffet of photo topics, presented in two or so hour blocks, that anybody can drop in on. It’s a bit of a madhouse, but fun. GPP, in it’s short history, has created a definitive, energetic photo community that gathers from far afield every year.

A good example: Did a class last year on location lighting. Good bunch of folks. We got back late, and unfortunately, the bus door opened right at a point in the sidewalk where there was a hunk of metal from an old sign stand poking through the cement. Fadi, one of our stalwart, enthusiastic shooters, struggled out the door with his backpack, and he came right down on the unforgiving protrusion. Boom, broke his foot. He spent the time waiting for the ambulance laying on the sidewalk and worrying about his lighting, his take, and how he would get to class the next day. We tried to assure him his first worry was his foot, which was rapidly becoming the size of the Goodyear blimp.

Next morning, we gather for class, and in comes Fadi, in pain and on wheels, but ready to talk Channel One, Group A. As a teacher, you just have to stand in service of that kind of passion. More tk….

Adam Swords says:

on February 8, 2010 at 6:13 am

I’m looking forward to going back to Dubai again and this year I’ll be assisting St. David of Baltimore on his workshops (provided he can find a sled and a flock of huskies to transport him to the airport).

This will be my third time back and it’ll be good to catch up with the old(?) faces that I’ve not seen in a year.

See you there Joe :)

Lucca says:

on February 8, 2010 at 6:13 am

Joe, I love the dance imagery that you’ve done! I’m planning on doing a similar project here in our town engaging young people from youth centres to show off their dance skills in front of local landmarks. Hopefully we’ll get some backing from the council…

ben says:

on February 8, 2010 at 6:21 am

Great photos! Just wish I had time to get out to Dubai and get involved!!

Gary Stewart says:

on February 8, 2010 at 7:16 am

Wow Joe… Just Wow!

Lewis Coward says:

on February 8, 2010 at 8:14 am

Absolutely fantastic work Joe. Sorry about you not having the UK on your agenda this year … well maybe 2011 then. Thanks for the FB message. Keep shootin!

tony says:

on February 8, 2010 at 8:35 am

finally i was able to book one of your classes
last year i could not it was fully booked
am a gr8 fan of your work
looking forward to work with you

Alex says:

on February 8, 2010 at 8:57 am

Hey Joe,
Booked my tickets a while ago and really really looking forward to it. One quick question, what the hell should I bring with me to your class (beside my witt and charm of course;) )? I’m flying from the UK so don’t particularly want to be carrying the kitchen sink but also don’t want to be left out!

See you soon,

Johan Sopiee says:

on February 8, 2010 at 9:26 am

amazing to see these incredible photos on your blog, Joe! and wow! hats off to Fadi.. incredible passion. way to go!

Art says:

on February 8, 2010 at 9:47 am

I’m dieing to know – was the diner-counter shot candid, or a set shot with “customers” actually friends/models posed?

If candid, do you get model releases for this kind of shot?

Thanks for the great blog!

Mike B says:

on February 8, 2010 at 9:55 am

Hey Joe,
Still waiting to see the shots taken onboard the USS Sterett with one of the dancers!

Einar says:

on February 8, 2010 at 9:58 am

Joe. I look forward to see how you manage to make one feel that you have 48 hours a day, when we team up for your FocusOnNature workshop in Iceland this summer. You are all over the place with great images on your blog, day after day after day. Stay cool. -Einar

wai L says:

on February 8, 2010 at 10:19 am

Joe, I have always wondered and never really got the chance to ask you in person. This is probably embarrassing but may I what you mean by “More tk”

Jon Tiffin says:

on February 8, 2010 at 10:24 am

Damn it! You were in San Diego and I didn’t get a chance to be a fly on your wall!!

Always inspired by your work & postings, Joe!

Radu says:

on February 8, 2010 at 11:24 am

I will be one of the “lucky 16” in your lighting bootcamp 😉

First time at GPP (couldn’t make it last year) and so looking forward to meet you, David Hobby, Zack Arias and the rest of the crew!

Alan Hess says:

on February 8, 2010 at 11:31 am

It is great to see the final product from the Night and Day Cafe shoot.
One of the more educational nights i have ever spent in a diner.

The light looks so good.
Impossible to tell that the room was lit by 30 or 40 Sb900s….


ROB says:

on February 8, 2010 at 11:43 am

is it really that good of an event or is it that they pay reeeeeeaaaaaly good??????????????????

Ingoman says:

on February 8, 2010 at 11:52 am

Omg, a dream is coming true for me! I still cannot believe that I am going to participate in a “joe mcnally workshop”. I am so looking forward to this whole week with all this great photogs. Also joining david hobby for the “stills” workshop and for sure photofriday.
@alex, same here. The only thing I cannot bring is the recommended PW :-(
let’s get in touch before we actually meet, do you know how many people are in this ws?
see you very soon

Fred Baer says:

on February 8, 2010 at 12:04 pm

How does one get involved in GPP? It sounds pretty amazing!

Hala says:

on February 8, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Thank you Joe, always a super pleasure to work with you. We’re counting down.

Alex, you will receive an email a week before the class with specific instructions, but since you ask, bring small flashes, pocket wizards (as many as you have) and needless to say, your camera, lens(es) and many flash memory cards.

Looking forward to seeing you all.


Ken Toney says:

on February 8, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Times have sure changed, I can remember geting in trouble for photographing a helicopter at Quantico. Here you are on a nuclear sub, unbelievable! Good luck in Dubai (can’t wait to see the photos from there).

John McGill says:

on February 8, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Joe, you’re class sure filled up fast. Too bad (well, for me anyway). I was really looking forward it! Maybe next year if I book in early January!

Bob says:

on February 8, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Joe: Images are just amazing. How did you balance out the light in these? The dancers are beautifully lit but not overpowered. They standout so well but blend in a the same time. Can you talk about the set up and numbers for these? After so many years shooting rocks (landscapes) I have become so interested in flash photography and really working hard to try and understand the set ups and possibilities. Thanks!

Iden Ford says:

on February 8, 2010 at 6:41 pm

I love the dancer on the counter in the diner, that is very original and very dramatic

MattSplatt says:

on February 8, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Hey Joe,

In relation to your underwater, daring & redoubtable Samantha Knobloch image….where did you put the strobes??? I am sure you would have 10 or 12 of them somewhere? hee hee.

Jomi Garrucho says:

on February 8, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Dreaming of the day that I could have enough Moolah to get out of my country ans attend a Joe McNally workshop. Tips and advise from your blog and FB should do for now. add me up :)

Skip Barber says:

on February 8, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Great images as usual, Joe. Have fun in Dubai.

Patrick snapp says:

on February 9, 2010 at 3:53 am

Kick ass joe! Ur work always amazes me always!

Fadi Kelada says:

on February 9, 2010 at 10:47 am

Dear Joe,

Just came home and read your blog today.

I really don’t know what to say…

I am surprised that you still remember my name.

This is not a comment. I have written a reply to you but I would prefer to send it to you directly. Will be very thankful if you can advise the best way to send it.

Thank You,

6bv says:

on February 9, 2010 at 1:18 pm

thanks too much

Janine Smith says:

on February 11, 2010 at 12:03 am

@Wai L Just guessing, but generally “more TK” means “more to come.”

Ari Denison says:

on February 11, 2010 at 6:38 pm

“Dancers are simply wonderful, hard working, creative people to engage with a camera. They literally leap at a creative notion, and somehow, physically transform a vaguely worded idea into something beautiful that belongs much more to them than to the person behind the camera.”
I work with a lot of dancers from the wonderful Eugene Ballet Company myself and I couldn’t agree more with this statement. Dancers are absolutely marvelous to work with.

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