Less than ten years ago, Hala Salhi had a corporate job and never dreamed of making a living in the arts. But in 2004 she took a photography course with Gulf Photo Plus (GPP) – at that time the event was just a year old – and her life changed for ever. Hala began a career as a wedding and events photographer, and in 2008 she took over as co-director of GPP, a role she still holds today.
‘Since learning to take photos I see things differently,’ says the 37-year-old Syrian, ‘I see things from new perspectives – that’s the most fascinating thing about photography.’
Gulf Photo Plus has grown from a single annual, one-day workshop to a huge organisation with more than 24,000 members. It hosts scores of workshops and seminars every year, aiming to nurture photographers from across the region. Since 2011 GPP has taken a dedicated gallery space in Al Quoz’s Alserkal Avenue, hosting exhibitions, meet-ups and movie nights, while the group also offers printing, equipment and studio rental.
But it’s still the annual event that is best known to non-photographers, having grown from a single day to an eight-day festival. This year’s ninth edition will offer more than 50 workshops and seminars and host 13 renowned international photographers. And the goal? To get you out shooting in Dubai.
‘What’s special about photography is that it’s a form of artistic expression that is open to everyone,’ adds Hala. ‘In Dubai there’s a huge variety of things to shoot – you have architecture you don’t see anywhere else in the world. All the famous photographers that come here go crazy – there’s enough variety to keep you busy for two years.’ Turn the page for our favourite places to shoot in the city.
Who to see at Photo Friday
David Alan Harvey
A renowned photographer and member of the invite-only Magnum cooperative, Harvey has shot more than 40 covers for National Geographic, and will open this year’s GPP with his new exhibition, a collection of photos taken in Rio de Janeiro.
After opening last year’s event with his Bob Marley retrospective, ‘Soul Rebel’, noted photojournalist Burnett makes a welcome return.
This blogger is read by millions of photographers across the world. At GPP, Hobby will be talking about how to make the most of social media.
Noted portrait photographer Heisler has shot for some of the world’s most respected magazines, including Life, Esquire, GQ and The New York Times Magazine.
Gulf Photo Plus takes place in Knowledge Village from Friday March 1 until Friday March 8, with the more casual sessions taking place on Friday March 1. This ‘Photo Friday’ event is a collection of 16 90-minute talks from some of the world’s best photographers,speaking about their life, work and inspirations. Tickets are Dhs50 per talk and can be bought on the website. www.gulfphotoplus.com.