This World Has No Limits. #GPP17

Salut adventurers!

Today’s story is about how we went to the desert to photograph a conservation project with Benjamin Wong as a part of his workshop for GPP17.

The idea behind the project is that desert kills trees, and we need to help planet by planting more trees. So Benjamin and GPP teamed up with a charity company that plants trees. He found really cool looking trees in Sharjah desert as well as an artist who created absolutely incredible costumes of deadly creatures.a_s_dsf3142-2

The whole team behind the project is talented beyond measure… and what I love most is that it was done for a good cause.

Initially we planned to go to three locations to create 3 images, but unfortunately with the usual Dubai organisation we only managed to do 2 trees. Nevertheless Ben took 3 shots that I am sure going to be mindblowing when finished. I saw one almost finished, and it is really impressive.

I had a really funny driver in our 4×4 who was:

  • looking like a rock star from 90s.
  • in fact British, but spoke with Indian accent.
  • had a problem with his neck but refused to go to the doctor saying that Jesus will help him.
  • promoting eating camel meat and drink camel milk even after I told him I was a vegetarian.
  • was singing songs about Jesus the whole time we were driving *and we had an Emirati lady sitting in the back of the car.
  • asked me if I want him to model for my fashion shoots.
  • and was thanking Jesus every time we made it over the dune.

I also met a guy in this workshop that I have been following on Facebook for a while but I didn’t realize it was him. Only after he complimented my Fuji, the whole puzzle came together for me to figure out who he was. Pleasure to meet you, Waleed.

What I saw in the shoot is that Ben is just like me, always does everything himself. There are plenty of people to help, but we still have to do everything with our own hands. 😛


Apart from seeing the magic in the action, we got lost in the desert, got stuck in the desert, got rained, blown away by the wind… my camera got so sanded to the point that shutter speed won’t press any more. Thankfully there was free camera cleaning service available during photoweek.


So grateful to have been a part of this unbelievable experience. Left tired, but motivated and inspired to dare to dream bolder.

Getting stuck in the sand 15 times on our way back maybe wasn’t the best experience ever, but we made it out alive with or without Jesus’ help.


Loved being a part of it. Thank you Ben, Valentina, Kashyap, Bernhard and each of the students. You guys rock!


I didn’t Choose Photography, Photography Chose Me. #GPP17

If ever life stops being epic, oh well, that would be boring, wouldn’t it?

The GPP17 photo week is done, and gone, but not forgotten! So many adventures, so many funny stories, so many inspirational people.

Had a chance to go to Grand Mosque with the master Yoda, mm, I mean Hobby, David Hobby to photograph the blue hour. Doesn’t that just sound like a dream? David Hobby, however, wouldn’t be himself if he didn’t have a plastic diana lens, which he taped to the converter for the Fuji camera. The lens was faaaaar from being sharp, but he also converted images to black and white, and square format right away. Interesting choice for the blue hour class photography, but why not, honestly? Anything, but ordinary. I only had a chance to take one picture for myself of the magical sunset that was happening that night, but I am happy with what I got. I was there to take pictures of David and the students.


Another awesome moment of that night was that Patrick Hall from Fstoppers team had to come with us to film the class, and he showed up in shorts and had to wear a kandura (the local dress). He honestly looked awesome!

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Next morning I had to teach a class on live performance photography with Sony Middle East. My husband showed up for support and won the heart of my assistant, who later on sent me a bunch of messages emphasizing how much he liked my husband. Okaaaaaay 🙂

Teaching again was fun, I liked enthusiasm of my students, they asked questions and shared their successes in that short amount of time that we had. I honestly struggled to take images with the Sony because I didn’t know the camera so well, because the light was changing every 5 seconds, as well as the white balance and the direction of the performance. But some people managed to create some awesome photos.

The weather was pretty horrible the whole week – it was dusty, stormy, rainy, cold, and sandy. But we still had fun.

We got a chance to try electrical scooters that were fantastic experience to ride around. How long do you think it takes to take an image like this? And under the rain?


The next day I went to take pictures of the one and only Sara Lando, the beautiful weirdo, who had a class in a mannequin storage room. All the students had 30 minutes and a topic given to them – to photograph the model in a certain mood with the mannequins. That was mindblowingly creative. I loved it.

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Went to Davide Moneteleone’s talk that night, which was again sponsored by Sony so had to shoot with Sony….somehow I feel I am gonna end up with that Sony in my pocket one day. All of the odds.

That night we went out for drinks with the crew and the photogs, and I ended up sitting next to Davide. He is Italian, but lives in Russia, which I don’t understand. But the guy really has a Russian soul. He even looks Russian now. It was interesting to listen to his stories… but on my other hand was his sweetheartedness Zack Arias. I love what Zack does. I feel his pain about seamless backgrounds. I wish he drowned me with his medium format megapixels in the back yard and made us all feel uncomfortable. Next time, ha?

Got to know Rafael Concepcion better and he is a fun man, and that story about massage… khm. One day he employed me into shooting the whole behind the scenes story of him using the surface pro. That was fun. He immediately makes everyone around him laugh.

Had a company dinner in Iranian restaurant which was awesome as I got to know Benjamin Von Wong better as we went hunting for vegetarian food together, and ended up sending selfies to Patrick di Fruscia at the end of the night. I am so grateful to the fact that he ended up on my side of the table because otherwise I  would never had a chance to take BTS photos in his workshop which was honestly mindblowing experience. He is a crazy genius.

298d6908-65c0-4668-b536-d57615cd5a80Spent my Valentine’s Day talking to Ben about environmental issues in Dubai and in planning his next day shoot. It honestly deserves a separate post that I hopefully will be able to produce.

I am so happy to have met my old friends Damien, Tracey, Altamash, get to know my colleagues better and make new friends.

God bless coffee. Thank you GPP for making this all happen.


To Be Continued…