There are a number of large photography events and festivals in the world and choosing which one to go to can sometimes be a challenge. Let me shorten your list of events you must attend at some point in your photographic career and put Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai at the top of that list. There is no other event, that I know of, that is like GPP.

Many large events, conferences, festivals, etc typically have a day or two of small hands-on workshops and are then followed by a number of days of platform talks in large conference halls. GPP turns that model around with one day of platform talks (Photo Friday) and then SIX days of hands-on workshops from a wide array of teachers teaching an equally wide array of topics. Check it out. You can lay in the grass with Joe McNally. Where else can you do that?


Fashion, portraiture, editorial on location (and at amazing locations at that), Lightroom, Photoshop, headshots, art, documentary, lighting, business, inspiration, etc, etc, etc, etc. Dude. Ed Kashi is teaching two classes. I’d tell you to sign up but his workshops are already sold out. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

You can take a class from Sara Lando. Then you can spend one, two, or three days with Joe McNally. Take off with David Nightingale for landscapes or shooting the city then learn post production from RC Concepcion. Joel Grimes is gonna be there. Lindsay Adler is back. Ryan Brenizer is teaching weddings and business. PETER F*CKING HURLEY. PETER F*CKING HURLEY. PETER F*CKING HURLEY.


If you have never taken a Peter Hurley class you have to take a Peter Hurley class. He’s a damn monster and I love him. Some loser named David Hobby will be there teaching something about lighting or something. Architecture with Mike Kelley. Drew Gurian is teaching. Some hack named Zack Arias is teaching street and editorial and OneLight. (Listen to nothing that guy says.) I should link each of these. Just go look at the list here.


But wait! There’s more! Tell ’em what else they get!

There’s the Photo Friday talks and panels. There’s usually a talk or demo given most evenings. There’s the shoot out that’s always fun and frustrating. Meg and I will be doing a live critique at some point during the week. I guarantee you will leave Dubai filled with ideas, information, techniques, and new friends. You’ll be deprived of sleep and you’ll be marking your calendar for GPP 2016.


I mean really. Watching David Burnett shoot Kushti wrestling with a 4×5 camera is something I’ve gotten to witness because of GPP. It’s these magical little moments that make GPP the most unique event for photographers I’ve seen.

The beauty of GPP is it’s still on the small side compared to other photography conferences. Everyone is accessible sometime during the week. It’s common to find instructors and students mixing and mingling as peers. There isn’t a wall separating teachers and students. There are more and more people attending GPP each year from all over the world but it is still intimate and friendly and open. It’s the best photography festival I’ve ever been a part of.


Lastly… It’s Dubai! It’s an amazing place that brings people together from all over the world. It will change your life and your world view. If you’ve never been to the Middle East you need to go to this event and experience it first hand. You need to either not buy that new lens you’re looking at or sell one and buy a plane ticket and get your tail to Dubai for GPP. They have a great page to help you plan your trip there. Sign up for my Day & Night street class and I’ll take you to my favorite place to eat in Dubai. (ETA – Sorry. It’s sold out. Get on the waiting list!)

The dates for GPP 2015 are March 6th to the 13th. Cash in some miles and I’ll see you there!


Zack Arias

A full time commercial and editorial photographer, Zack shoots everything from bands to CEOs to ad campaigns. A gifted teacher and communicator, he has an uncanny ability to meet and connect with all types of people.

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  1. Imraan

    SHEBANG. 😛

  2. Thiagones

    It’s a pity that here in BR dell one lens would not buy a plane ticket… Not even two lenses… It would cost me two months or more of my money from engineering. Seriously, I would go if I could. But it is far from my pocket. Joe McNally teaching about composition?? Zack with a flash on his hand teaching me…. Heck yeah…. But I cant… I ll keep dreaming…

  3. Thiagones

    Zack, I know you should hear this all time, but would you critique some of my photos that are on instagram? I really could use some real critique, specially from a pro like you that I learned so much, about lighting, connecting to people and “not be mediocre photographer” as you said in crop or crap video and one light. Would you? 🙂

  4. Martin McPherson

    I don’t suppose there’s something comparable to GPP that’s sort of… closer and not ruinously expensive to newer photographers?

    • adam bucci

      there’s wppi. it might fill your needs. its in las vegas in late february

    • James

      If there was it probably wouldn’t be like GPP because there would be a lot of people attending and that would totally change the feel.

    • Peter Ort

      It isn’t cheap, but it’s actually surprisingly cheaper than you would think. I got my round trip from Tulsa, Oklahoma for $804; and if the hotel is too much you can get an AirBnB spot pretty close for about $80/night or less if you look.

  5. James

    No Heisler?

  6. Leo Gemetro

    Hey Zack! I booked less than a week that the roster for GPP 2015 was out and I’m quite eager to see you here in Dubai!
    I’ve been living here for 4 (four, yes, effing four years) in Dubai and this is my first time in a GPP. I even booked leave for that day, so no more day effing job for a week!
    If you like Indian food and wanna taste as well Argentine food, lemme know! My wife is Indian and cook like a pro, so you might want to pop by with Meghan any day that you’re in Dubai.
    Looking forward to attend those workshops!


    PS: An amazing place to do some street ph in DXB is the Fish Market, but you have to be an early bird and go by 3 A.M.

  7. Jim

    It may be cheaper to get Joe McNally to lie in the grass with me somewhere nearby, however, I’m beginning to see the appeal. Does Peter F. Hurley lie in the Grass? Lindsay Adler’s grass session is probably full.

  8. Peter Ort

    I haven’t sold a lens (yet) but I did hold off on buying that X100T so I could book a workshop and flight. From what I’ve seen I made the right decision…

    • Zack Arias

      Yep! You sure did.


  9. Amos

    If only Angelina Jolie was teaching a class…

  10. aubry

    I need to this. Like yesterday.