When me and Ryan got off the plane from New York, the first thing I saw was Bona on the cover of Friday magazine with an article inside. The airport control guy had it in his hand as he was guiding people off the plane down the ramp into the airport. On the cover is a portrait I took of a Hamer cheif in the south of Ethiopia, and now he was gracing the cover of a Dubai publication, looking quite sharp.
Bona is the highly respected chief of his village, Labaltoy. In Hamer culture, the name Bona is given to an aggressive dog or animal. It is not a common name for a human. When he was young, Bona showed strong signs of aggression and strength, causing his mother to choose this name. His scarification is a symbol of the enemies of the Borana tribe he killed in battle. He is unsure of the exact number of deaths from of the wounds he inflicted, but is sure at least 7 fell to him.
After the airport, I had some rest at the hotel, met the workshop crew, and went out to the Mall of the Emirates, where I have an exhibition with the Ethiopia photographs. It is a group exhibition shared between some of the photographers at Gulf Photo Plus, including David Hobby, Zack Arias, David Nightingale, Steve Simon, Robin Nichols, Melissa Rodwell and Joe McNally. After a group of us escaped the crowd at the gallery and went skiing… Yes- an indoor ski-slope. The weirdest part about skiing in the middle of the desert is not so much the novelty, but seeing people from the Middle East riding the ski-lifts (without skis) for the sake of seeing snow.
David Hobby and I!
Vincent Laforet and I!
Joe McNally and I!
Ryan and I!
One of the more memorable moments was visiting the older part Dubai. Although Dubai is seen as an extremely modern tourist metropolis, (which I still want to point out impresses me very much) there are some other sites that interest me. In the shipyards, we saw traders that had come on dows all the way from India in some cases. It got Ryan, Cale and I thinking that it could be a really interesting to hitch a ride, and find a way to enter India from Dubai, or vice-versa. We spoke to a boat crew from Pakistan, who showed us around their boat.
This is us trying to take a touristy photo in front of the worlds tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, in a more practical manner. Dubai is constantly under construction. The short time it takes them to erect new buildings is crazy. “Did that shirt come with the magazine subscription?”
My workshop groups were fantastic. I taught some advanced lighting / photoshop classes with students who really learned quick. I was really impressed. I don’t teach a lot of workshops, but these groups really didn’t make me mind it at all.
One of my classes
At the end of the workshop came the shootoff- a competition between Zack Arias, David Hobby and myself. We had 20 minutes to photograph an unknown subject in an auditorium filled with people. I peeked in on and found my opponents fine-tuning their setups days before the shootout. I wanted to through a curve ball, and just have a good time with the competition. Obviously we are all good friends (spent 2 weeks in Australia with Zack) so there is no real contest. There’s no macho-maniac trying to prove their photo-skills. This was the end of the workshop, and more of a celebration of the students work. Also, the audience was full of previous workshop students who had their brains stuffed with lighting-technical-know-how all week. The last thing they wanted to see was more, so I wanted to do something fun. Each contender took their turn while the others waited outside the auditorium in a concealed room.
So, when my turn came, I entered the room and was told the rules…The clock started, but my assistant Ryan and I did not rush around. We sat down and offered the models some water first as the crowd gasped in horror. I decided to bust out my old polarioid camera instead of my Phase One or Mark III and take a snapshot. In snapshot fashion, Ryan gave some bunny ears behind the models, making it a true polaroid. The shooting time would be about 5 minutes, but I still had to process the image. This would take roughly 2 minutes, so Ryan boosted me up and I taped the polaroid to the projection screen. Voila! Complete.
Now, I understand there are a few people quite taken back at this. I understand how it could be seen as a way to forfeit the competition, or me being a smartass. The truth is, I meant it all in good taste. (But I am a smartass anyway!) I’ve spared you for now, David Hobby!!
And here is my “real” auditorium picture, a group shot of everyone who put on the workshop taken in about 8 minutes. If you really would want to know what I would use for a shoot-off setup, my main would be a big Elinchrom octabank on my Profoto lights, and some heads behind with standard reflectors for back-lighting. Thanks so much to everyone for their hard work and passion bringing everything together this year.