I’ve been putting off writing a blog post for the longest time because.. I’m scared. What if I say the wrong things? What if I say too much? Too little?

But after GPP2014, I realized I can’t put this off much longer. Not only because I need to write about my experience, but also because this is me. This is who I am. Sometimes, I’ll say the wrong things. Sometimes, I’ll ramble. And that’s okay. This is who I am.

GPP2014 was the year’s biggest photography event in the Middle East. And I was lucky to be a part of it. They kicked off the event with a day full of seminars, called Photofriday. I attended Joel Grimes’ Think Like An Artist seminar, Sara Lando’s Language of Photography seminar, and David Alan Harvey’s Finding Your Voice seminar. Every single one of those seminars was inspiring. Joel Grimes made me realize that it’s OKAY to think of myself as an artist, not just a photographer – something I’ve struggled with for a while. I couldn’t think of myself as an artist because I always felt like that would be.. show-offy. Sara Lando is HILARIOUS. I absolutely loved her. And David Alan Harvey is fantastic. He got to work with National Geographic (my dream job) and the whole time I was thinking, can I have your life please? haha.

On the 8th of March, I attended Lindsay Adler’s Introduction to Fashion Photography workshop. I’ve been a fan of Lindsay’s work for a while and meeting her was just so amazing. She’s an incredible person, so sweet and so willing to share everything she knows. During the second half of the workshop, we got to take pictures of the models and experiment with lights. I’ve never worked with lights before so I was quite intimidated, but it was so much fun! I also got to meet so many interesting people and made new friends. Might even go shooting with one of them!

Lindsay Adler workshop 2014 All images copyright © 2014 Amani AlShaali

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Yours truly & Lindsay Adler

On the 10th of March, I attended Lindsay’s In Search of Inspiration talk with one of my best friends. I ended up forgetting my notebook and my friend stole some papers for me (adventure!) but thankfully I had a pen. The talk was great and I left feeling even more confident about what it is I want to do. Lindsay talked about how she started it out – her perseverance is amazing. She went through a lot to get to where she is now.

The 11th and 12th were – drum roll please – Brooke Shaden’s Fine Art Photography workshop. For those who don’t know, Brooke Shaden changed my life. I went to her workshop last november and it completely changed me (more on that in another post). The workshop was SO MUCH FUN. On the first day, Brooke talked about what fine art photography is, and inspiration and techniques. Then she had some of the students shoot blindfolded. If you’ve never seen or done that, please do! She basically asks a student to pick an outfit, then puts a blindfold on them. The point of this exercise is to help people envision the picture they wanna take, and build it up in their heads, before actually shooting. So once they’re blindfolded, they’d tell Brooke exactly what they want the model to do, and what angle should Brooke shoot from, etc. Why am I explaining? Here, watch this:

After that, we headed off to Ras Al-Khaimah. It took us almost two hours to get there, but on the ride I got to talk to Brooke about a bunch of random stuff and it was so much fun. I also got to know some of the other students there. Brooke made us do these exercises where we’d write 10 words that describe our work now, and 5 words that we want to describe our work in the future. She then went around checking what everyone wrote and helped us to figure out how to get from where we are to where we want to be.
Once we got to RAK, Brooke shot two images in front of all the students with one of the models, explaining how and why she does certain things. Then we were divided into groups of 5, and each group had 10 minutes with each model (we had three models). Every person in the group would shoot an idea, while everyone else helped (we all need dress floofers!). As much as I enjoyed shooting, I also had a lot of fun just helping people out. I got dirty and I pricked and scraped myself but it was so worth it. I got to shoot three ideas; one I came up with when we got there, and two I had in my ideas notebook. Speaking of the ideas notebook, I have a few quotes by Brooke on the first page and she saw them and signed it for me!

I haven’t finished editing my pictures from that day, I only finished one, which you’ll see at the end of this post. Meanwhile, some behind the scenes shots from RAK:

Brooke Shaden workshop 2014 All images copyright © 2014 Amani AlShaali
Brooke Shaden workshop 2014 All images copyright © 2014 Amani AlShaali
Brooke Shaden workshop 2014 All images copyright © 2014 Amani AlShaali

Brooke Shaden workshop 2014 All images copyright © 2014 Amani AlShaali
With Sung Lin Gun, who took this amazing picture of me:

copyright © 2014 Sung Lin Gun

Brooke Shaden workshop 2014 All images copyright © 2014 Amani AlShaali
With Rand Huneidi

Brooke Shaden workshop 2014 All images copyright © 2014 Amani AlShaali
Brooke Shaden workshop 2014 All images copyright © 2014 Amani AlShaali

Brooke Shaden workshop 2014 All images copyright © 2014 Amani AlShaali
With Karien Mulder

So we headed back to Dubai and got to Knowledge Village around 8pm, and I had to drive back to Ajman. I would’ve asked them to drop me off but I couldn’t leave my car in Dubai haha.

Day 2 of the workshop, Brooke edited one of the pictures she shot in front of us and asked us to follow along. I picked up quite a few tricks and techniques that I’m super excited to start using! Then we all worked on our own pictures, and I was probably the slowest because I was helping people out but I love that. After that, we got to talk about the business of Fine Art Photography, from exhibitions to prints to book covers and licensing images. All amazing stuff to know. Brooke is such a wonderful person (for the sake of not making this post longer than it already is, I will refrain from gushing about Brooke, because that needs a whole new post!).
I did not want the day to end. I made such amazing friends and it made me sad that I’d have to wait such a long time to see them again. Most of them don’t live in the UAE, but they promised to come back for GPP2015! Also, I got to see Brooke and a few other people the next day, because my little sister attended Brooke’s workshop too and I drove her.

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Silly Brooke being silly haha
Brooke Shaden workshop 2014 All images copyright © 2014 Amani AlShaali
Brooke Shaden and Karien Mulder
Brooke Shaden workshop 2014 All images copyright © 2014 Amani AlShaali
This picture makes me happy 🙂

The 14th of March was the last day of the event – The Shootout. They put Zack Arias against Sara Lando, gave them 20 minutes to shoot a subject, and edit it. Sara went first, so they kicked out Zack so he wouldn’t know what the subject is and start planning. I’d tell you more about it, but I wouldn’t do it justice. It was so exciting to watch, and I think it would be better to wait for GPP to post the video on their website (I will keep you updated!)

At the end of the shootout, I got to hang out with Brooke, then Lindsay came and hung out with us. I love these two so much. Lindsay kept calling Brooke “Brookiepoo” and I thought that was adorable lol. I can’t wait to see them again, and I can’t wait for GPP2015. The staff at GPP are amazing people, they put together the event so well, and I was so proud to be a part of it.

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With Brooke Shaden and Lindsay Adler

And last but not least, here’s one of my finished images from Brooke Shaden’s workshop!

The Pain You Left Behind
Safe On The Other Side
model: Mylene

2014-2017 Events

7 Comments Leave a comment

  1. This was a really nice read Amani.
    I wish I could have been there, especially with the fact it’s only 15 minutes down the road from me, but it wasn’t to be.
    Reading posts like this make me more determined than ever to keep learning and hopefully get the money together for GPP2015 or the photoweekend in November.

    ps. The post was shared by GPP twitter which is how I found your site 🙂


    • Thank you so much Rob for taking the time to read it and comment, I really appreciate it!
      You definitely should try to make it to GPP2015. At GPP there are always contests you can enter and you could win tickets to a workshop of your choice so you should keep an eye out for that!
      It was so nice of them to share it 🙂


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